"Hey, I'm gonna get some tickets to the Arena Bowl!" Dan said.
"Okay," I said, only half-believing him.
Shoulda known better. An hour or so later, he'd won us some nosebleed seats on eBay. And I do mean nosebleed, since we were in the very last possible row we could be in before we had to crawl up onto the ceiling. We could have rappelled down from the catwalks with the rest of the army dudes who delivered the game ball down to the field.
First off, I hate the New Orleans Arena. Architecturally, it is an unimpressive structure. Safety-wise, the place freaks me out, as there are really only two major ways in and out the place, which seats close to 20,000. God forbid there should ever be a fire in the place. We went there shortly after the place opened for a concert, and the bottlenecked crowds at the exits convinced me never to return to the arena unless it was absolutely necessary. I guess the Arena Bowl in which San Jose made it into the game qualified as a necessity. I've cheered for Dan's pet teams in stranger situations. What the hey.
Well, the whole pregame, which I missed most of because I was walking around and down some stairs to get a Champs Sporting Goods sweepstakes form, was basically a major propaganda show put on by our country's army. I thankfully managed to avoid an Army glee club rendition of many patriotic hits, and arrived at the tail end of a small ceremony inducting some new recruits into the Army. "There are much better ways to get into this game for free," Dan said to me as the inductees marched off. Wish I'd stayed out when they tried to get everyone involved in a "Mardi Gras Mambo", though - where's the Navy Steel Band when you need it? I've heard Navy bands go to town with "Enter Sandman", too. Must petition the major sports franchises to get the sailors to put on the show next time.
The folks sitting next to us were less than thrilled with their dirt-cheap seats, however. "I'm pretty mad at my Saints' ticket rep right now,"one of them said. Can't win 'em all.
I will say that, judging by the sheer number of jerseys and merchandise worn, there were loads of Saints fans in attendance at the Bowl, which means any of the following things:
- Most likely, about half of the Arena Bowl attendees were local.
- These people want the NFL season to start. Right. Now.
- This probably added up to free nationwide publicity for the first owner of both an arena football team AND an NFL team. Yup, everybody's favorite car dealer and corporate sports bully, Tom Benson.
Actually, it was all kinda fun and family friendly. Like Peewee football with grown men, mixed in with the ice hockey-ish possibility of players ending up over the wall and into the stands at any moment during the game. The cheerleaders are allowed to get away with much skimpier outfits, which Dan chalked up to their being in climate-controlled arenas most of the time. If I weren't freezing my kishkes from all the climate controlled A/C blasting on us, I'd have agreed with him.
"Why didn't you get a sweatshirt?" Dan asked me when I came back from a jaunt out to the bathroom and to get some Arena Bowl apparel to help me warm up.
"Because, they didn't have any! All they had were XXXL t-shirts!" I said.
Hey, it'll make a nice sleepshirt.
I must say that the Arena Bowl had the halftime show that the 2006 Saints' home opener should have had. ReBirth kicks the butts of U2 and Green Day combined any day of the week, and has energy to spare. Love it, loooove it. I am also extremely proud to say that I successfully avoided the Superdome jambalaya, which I have had issues with previously, but couldn't evade a daiquiri brain freeze. Must have been the meat locker A/C contributing.
Aw, hell, Dan was happy. San Jose won!
Plus, I saw some guy on the Jumbotron screens who looked a lot like AshMo missing no opportunities to lift his shirt and expose his prodigious gut to the assembled crowds and, possibly, to national TV viewers at home. Woohoo!