- Steven Kee
MetLife Stadium – New York Giants
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
MetLife Stadium 1 MetLife Stadium Dr East Rutherford, NJ 07073
Year Opened: 2010
The Giant Sardine Can at the Meadowlands
It’s that time of year again where a beautiful fall day at an NFL football game can be a glorious, but very expensive day out. MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in New Jersey is where both the New York Giants and New York Jets play and reside. Giants and Jets’ fans trek to MetLife Stadium (or what True-Blue Giants’ fans will still lovingly refer to as Giants Stadium) which is, unfortunately, lacking in too many ways for an almost $1 billion, 21st Century modern-day stadium housing two NFL teams in the most expensive sports market in North America. For almost a billion dollars, especially in comparison to others for about the same price, it is a “giant” disappointment. Built in the parking lot of the old Giants Stadium sits this massive grey oval louvered sardine can. It is nothing spectacular to look at from the outside nor the inside until you get to your seats. The louvered facade obscures your view on the iconic New York City Skyline and getting in-and-out of it has not improved.
Fans still leave the game early to avoid being stuck in traffic in all areas: getting out of their section from the parking lot, the parking lot itself, on the highways after that and even for the train & buses. The only real plus is the seating, which is much more comfortable, and having sat in all areas, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. If you are there to watch the game, which is what really matters, then once in your seat it’s great…everything else, not so great.
There are food alternatives (nothing spectacular or worth mentioning), a huge store, some activities outside after security, and a “museum” that looks like it was an afterthought.
Food & Beverage 3
After being at MetLife Stadium for several sporting and non-sporting events, including this latest, I believe I know why their food is discombobulated, haphazard, and average at best…TAILGATING. It seems like not much emphasis is put on food once inside, especially after walking through the elaborate Giants fans’ set-ups, food choices, and wafting delicious smells they have spent hours prepping and spend even more hours enjoying before & after the game. Tailgating has been a long tradition in the parking lots of both the old and new stadiums.
Inside MetLife Stadium, the food is fair and the pricing is typical but not inline for what you get. Visitors can also order the basics: stadium hot dog, knish, popcorn, pretzels, nachos, and Pepsi products. Then again, it is hard to pass up traditional and boneless chicken wings at WingMan NYC and tacos & burritos at Taco’s Raqueros.
There is quite a bit to choose from at the game from local to international cuisine: Bahnbekyu offers Korean pulled pork with carrot cabbage slaw sliders, the BBQ Shack offers rib combos and bacon on a stick, Global Pies sells meat pies, and Premio Sausage has the iconic sausage, peppers, and onion sandwich on its menu.
Once in your seat, there is a realization that you are on top of the action. You are welcomed by the comfortable seating and invited to enjoy the view. There is plenty of legroom and space so you’re able to sit back and enjoy every minute from warm-ups until after the last whistle blows.
You can sit back in comfort after the game and watch as the players run into the tunnels– win or lose. This leads to an atmosphere that is very pleasing and a great day out. Everyone is very cordial, even to the opposing teams’ fans (division rivals from Washington), and security is instantly on top of any situation that didn’t have a chance of getting out-of-control. If you wear the opposing teams’ colors or gear, security has their eyes on any activity surrounding you. Friendly ribbing goes on, but it is all kid-friendly.
There is cheering when the G-Men scored, but not the involvement you use to come to expect at a Giants game. In addition, the stadium itself is not a “player in the game” as it was with Giants Stadium. Also gone are the comradery-building spirals in each corner that just about everyone had to leave by and either celebrate or commiserate with each other as a whole. Now it’s more of an up out of your seat and scattering like ants right to the car.
Still, the focus is on the game on the field and the day of this review was the second one with Daniel Jones, who the Giants faithful hope is the successor to Eli Manning. The views are unobstructed even when sitting all the way up in the 300 section, good views are the norm with one exception. Neighborhood 2
What neighborhood? MetLife Stadium is built on a swamp (to be more precise – the marshes of New Jersey). Crammed between highways and other facilities, working and non-working it is too far from any walkable neighborhood. The best way to arrive is by car and the giant parking lots that surround the stadium is ideal for tailgating on a Sunday afternoon. The Meadowlands Complex was also home to the Brendan Byrne Arena that housed both the New Jersey Devils and Nets, but both teams are gone and the arena sits idle and vacant.
However, a new entertainment complex is under construction that will open on October 25, 2019, and consists of 500 stores. American Dreams will also be home to 100 eateries, an indoor amusement and water park, NHL-sized skating rink, indoor ski slope, two miniature golf courses, and an aquarium just to name a few.
If venturing within a few miles by car from the complex check out the Tic Toc Diner for a wide variety of food and their iconic dish of Disco Fries. Brix City Brewery, Bolero Snort Brewery, and New Jersey Beer Company are worth having a few samples of pints after the game. Also, New Jersey is one of the best cities for sports betting, according to betting.com.
Fans have quieted down quite a bit over the years from boisterous and extremely knowledgeable to a much tamer and less enthused crowd. The crowd is excited but lack that “12th Player of the Game” vibe. There use to be this loud roar, jumping out of your seat, and screaming on every down. Even when the Giants score it is lacking, which again was not the case in the past.
Giants Stadium used to erupt for everything from a bad throw by their own quarterback to a successful extra point. These days at MetLife Stadium a touchdown gets less enthusiasm and this might be due to technological advances, pricing out fans, and generational middle class blue-collar fans being pushed out and saying enough is enough.
A child, young adult and/or long-time Giant fan would have jumped at the opportunity to go to the game, however once a year or not at all is just fine now because of all the changes. There are three telltale signs that say it all at the game of this review: 1) Not once was the time-honored “wave” done. 2) There wasn’t one “chant” through the game. 3) You can still get season tickets for a Giants game – there use to be a waiting list that was so intense you’d have to will your season tickets to your family upon passing away.
There are still some of those “True Blue” Giants’ fans out there, but they are getting harder to find. At this game, you could spot them standing after the game was over as they respectfully applauded their previously starting two-time Super Bowl-winning MVP quarterback as he ran off the field and into the tunnel. It would be nice to see a stadium full of them.
There is an entire subsection on the MetLife Stadium website solely dedicated to accessing, travel, tailgating, and so forth. However, it’s important you know the following specific information for your event, the hints are below, and not go by the general information provided from other visitors because it can differ between the numerous events held at the stadium.
You need to find the NFL section and after that which NFL team you are going to see. Since this review is based on a Giants game please take into consideration that the information provided is for this event only and pricing and rules may change at any time.
According to the MetLife Sports Complex, there are over 28,000 parking spaces throughout and the complex offers ample transportation opportunities. There is a MetLife Sports Complex Site Map made up of thirteen choices of which about half are dedicated to parking a vehicle; again make sure you are looking at the NFL Giants one specifically. The other half is dedicated to Uber, the Rail Station at MetLife Stadium, shuttle buses from Lot P by the Meadowlands RaceTrack and from the arena (located on the other side on 8 lanes of the NJ Turnpike), a taxi/limo stand area, ADA parking, buses to the New York City (NYC) Port Authority and finally access to a private helipad and valet car service as well.
When parking a vehicle keep in mind pricing is now tiered and can range from $40 to over $100. Only guests without prepaid permits may park at the off-site lot located at 20 Murray Hill Parkway in East Rutherford for $40 (cash/credit card is accepted). Shuttle service will be provided to and from MetLife Stadium.
Bus lines and train lines are extremely long, fans leave even earlier now because waiting times to leave the stadium have not improved. Your best bet, especially if you want to tailgate, is to get someone to throw in a prepaid parking pass for free if you buy your tickets from a third party or buy just the parking pass which third parties sell as well.
In addition, you may want to plan–if driving in–to tailgate after the game as well until traffic subsides because once you finally get out of the parking lot you sit in more traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike or Route 3 towards the Garden State Parkway.
Return on Investment 2
Whether a family or by yourself, it has become a very expensive outing. There are not many extras, conveniences, or upgrades that seem to warrant the pricing at or surrounding this venue. All ticket prices can range anywhere from as low as $67 plus fees to over $1,300 plus fees. If buying on secondary websites and depending on who the Giants are playing, the cheapest tickets can range in prices as low as $88 against the Arizona Cardinals or $151 against division-rivals Dallas Cowboys. It pays to shop around and see how far you can stretch your dollar. If making a trip to see a game, it will depend on how much you would want to pay for your ticket, but if you have the ability to plan for a specific game, the prices and packages can drastically vary.
The New York Giants Hall of Champions @ the Legacy Club presented by New York-Presbyterian is open to all, but don’t blink or you’ll miss it; it closes sharply at the end of halftime. It is recommended to arrive a little early to see it. There is never a line because the majority of fans either pass it or are unaware of its existence.
It’s great to see all the championship trophies and Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophies, some memorabilia and jerseys, and their homage of busts like at the Football Hall of Fame in Canton of the Giants’ “Ring-Of-Honor” inductees. For such a newer stadium and long history of a team such as the Giants, they could have made it the jewel of the league.
The Giants get another extra point for its Giants First Game Day Certificate for children, placed in a Giants folder so you can bring it home safe and sound. This is available at the Courtesy/Information areas. They also do the designated driver free non-alcoholic beverage like baseball has done for a long time.
Finally, there is a huge store that is white and changes colors and the merchandise out dependent on what team is playing–no new green Jets jerseys for sale. On this day it was lit in blue and red.
All these extras and a large screen fifty-yard line area are right outside the stadium but after you go through security is in one location and entrance: the MetLife “Fifty (50) Yard Line” entrance. If you look up you’ll also see a Giants mural of where the great players of the past reside (if you look carefully, you can see how it flips to reveal a different image during a Jets’ game.) MetLife Stadium does offer tours, for more information check out the MetLife Stadium website.
I just want to write, “Ugh!” or sigh and leave it at that. Instead I’ll say this, the seats are surprisingly comfortable and from the last seat up top (where if you are about 6’ tall, stand on your seat, are on the correct side of the stadium, have no physical impairments…is the only place you can see and get an unobstructed view of the iconic New York City skyline from within MetLife Stadium) to the front row at the 50 yard line you feel like you are on top of the action.
With one exception, depending on your height the view from the first row on the upper tier in section 300 (even on the 50-yard line) is obstructed by a metal bar. You are better off getting the next row or two up. Remember, this was also the home of Super Bowl XLVIII. You have to make your own good time once there, as you did with the old Giants Stadium. Not the best by far a billion dollars could buy.
For the Jets’ and Giants’ fans and especially children here is a telling anecdote that sums up this ‘modern-day’ stadium and its “museum:” An adorable inquisitive little boy who just turned seven (7) two days prior with his Giants’ Jersey, Giants’ hat on, and Giants’ Teddy Bear in hand that he just got from him Grandma asked the right question…to me, “Is this it?” and “Where is the Jets’ stuff?” I sadly had to tell him that this is barely a room itself and I’m guessing the Jets have a broom closet somewhere. In all honesty, I told him this is it and don’t get your hopes up kid if you go to a Jets’ game because they have nothing!