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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
A new wave has reached the Big Easy, and it is taking Uptown New Orleans by storm. No, jazz and Cajun music have not been replaced, but the home of the Tulane football team has, as the brand new Yulman Stadium has brought football back to the college campus for the first time since 1974. Built at a cost of $73 million, the stadium has revived interest in the football program to a level not seen in 40 years. The Green Wave has had somewhat of a vagabond existence since departing the old Tulane Stadium when the Superdome opened in the mid-1970’s. Taking the games off campus resulted in smaller crowds in the gigantic dome and reduced the home field advantage to a thing of the past. The fall reached its nadir in 1995, when Hurricane Katrina struck and devastated New Orleans and rendered the Superdome unplayable. That season Tulane played all eleven games on the road, and with no student support, as the fall semester was cancelled so repairs could be made to the heavily-damaged Tulane campus.
Faced with a massive rebuilding project, the Alumni and business community felt that a return to the campus would result in a revival of the football program and also help the recovery efforts in the Uptown District of New Orleans, where Tulane is located. What has resulted from this campaign is a 30,000-seat stadium that not only celebrates Tulane’s long football history, but also celebrates its ties to the city of New Orleans. To do this, the school replicated the white and green checkerboard design in the end zone which was a trademark of historic Tulane Stadium. They also honored the past by naming the field after Tom Benson, a Tulane alumnus and owner of the New Orleans Saints, who played their first few expansion years at the old stadium before the Superdome was constructed.
Several unique features have been included in the design of Yulman Stadium, including a number of special seating areas designed for the deep-pocketed alums, as well as the student or casual fan. These include: 1) the top-of-the-line Glazer Family Club, which features 1,500 chair back seats with two club rooms overlooking the 50 yard line, a sports bar and an enhanced menu of food on the buffet, 2) Westfeldt Terrace, a covered open air section with 3,000 seatbacks and a panoramic view of downtown New Orleans and 3) party decks that are open to anyone in the stadium with a ticket. Outside of Yulman Stadium is the Athletes Plaza, where pre and post game celebrations take place as well as live jazz entertainment leading up to the kickoff.
Tulane is a member of the American Athletic Conference, which includes teams like SMU, Cincinnati, Memphis, UCONN and the University of Central Florida.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
New Orleans is definitely one of the gastronomic capitals of the U.S., and Yulman Stadium embraces this heritage with its food offerings. Amongst the delicacies available at the concession stands are such New Orleans staples as Fried Chicken with Louisiana Pepper Butter Sauce, Petit Po' Boy sandwiches, red beans and sausage with white rice and mini muffulettas. In addition, Yulman Stadium is one of the few NCAA stadiums where the sale of alcohol is allowed. Choices include both domestic and foreign beers, as well as several craft beer selections.
Moving back into a new stadium on campus has made a huge difference in the game day experience. The massive, impersonal atmosphere of the Superdome has been replaced by a revival of the tailgating experience and renewing of old friendships. A Tailgate Village takes up several quads throughout the campus, with amenities that compare favorably with the Grove at the Ole Miss games in Oxford. People are allowed to begin setting up their tents the night before the game to stake out a good location.
Tulane's campus is surrounded by a predominately residential neighborhood, and the school has strived to be a good neighbor. The new stadium has a lower profile, so that it does not tower over the houses down the street. Also, the school has established satellite parking areas outside the neighborhood, with free shuttles to prevent gridlock on the area streets. Across the street from the school are the beautiful Audubon Park and Zoo, which are well worth a visit. A few neighborhood eateries to consider are Ted's Frostop, a new Orleans institution (3100 Calhoun Street); Bayou Hot Wings, a wing shop, which also offers shrimp, chicken and frog legs dipped in spicy sauces (6221 Claiborne Street) and The Sammich, home of the best po' boys in town (7708 Maple Street).
Yulman Stadium has resulted in a rebirth of the Tulane football fan. During the years the team played at the Superdome, there was a real disconnect between the students, alumni and the football program, due to its distance from the campus. Bringing football back onto campus has renewed school spirit, and has resulted in greatly increased season ticket sales, as well as contributions to the athletics department. The stadium is a sea of green, blue and white, and even if the Green Wave is flat that particular day, these fans are still going to have a good time. The school does a great job of monitoring alcohol related behavior and taunting of visiting teams' fans is not tolerated.
Parking close to the stadium is difficult, as there are narrow residential streets surrounding the campus. Tulane is utilizing area parking facilities such as schools, churches, hospitals and even the Superdome, then offering a free shuttle service to the stadium. Parking rates vary greatly ($5 to $30) depending on the type of lot. The commercial lots are the highest, while the schools tend to be the cheapest, as they are doing this as a fundraiser. My suggestion is to take a New Orleans tradition, the St. Charles Streetcar, to the game. This allows you to see the beautiful homes of the Garden District. The streetcar stops immediately in front of the front entrance to the Tulane campus and cost only $1.25 (correct change only). After the game, you can enjoy other New Orleans attractions like Bourbon Street and the Riverwalk, as they are also on the streetcar line.
New Orleans is a town that depends on tourism for its economy. That being said, it can be an expensive place to visit. Check with friends for suggestions of where to stay, as there are many B&B facilities in the uptown district that will be much more reasonably priced than the downtown convention hotels. Also, this is a destination city. Don't limit yourself to just going to the ball game. Immerse yourself in the uniqueness of the most European-style city in the U.S., and you will feel that your money is well spent.
Tulane games are typically in the evening to beat the heat and humidity. This leaves plenty of time to sightsee in the Crescent City. Check out the Jax Brewery, a New Orleans cemetery, Preservation Jazz Hall and venture across the Mississippi to see Mardi Gras World and then stop in at the Café du Monde for one of their fabulous beignets.
New Orleans is a resilient city, and has come a long way back from Katrina. The residents and businesses have suffered greatly, and their happiness and friendliness in welcoming visitors back to the city is very genuine. In many ways, Yulman Stadium has played a major role in the revival of this city. Laissez les bon temps roler!
Check out this video from Tulane for another look at the game day experience at Yulman Stadium:
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3100 Calhoun St
New Orleans, LA 70125
6221 S Claiborne Ave #104
New Orleans, LA 70125
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