MetLife Stadium – New York Giants
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MetLife Stadium – A Study in Blue
MetLife Stadium opened in 2010 as New Meadowlands Stadium, but was renamed in 2011 after MetLife purchased the naming rights. The stadium is jointly owned by the New York Giants and the New York Jets of the NFL, and both are equal partners in the venture (unlike the former stadium, in which the Jets were lesser tenants). The stadium was designed to be quickly changed between the two teams, and thus includes features such as lighting on the inside and outside that can be switched from green to blue, removable blocks of turf in each end zone so that either team’s logo can be installed on game day, as well as an NFL logo at midfield (instead of the typical team logo) so that no re-painting is ever required. On rare occasions when both teams play at home in the same weekend, the grounds crew can also install plain end zones with slanted white stripes, in order to reduce the changeover time.
MetLife Stadium has a capacity of 82,500, making it the largest in the NFL; Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where the Los Angeles Rams currently play, is technically larger when configured for USC Trojans games, but only holds 80K when set-up for NFL games.
Food & Beverage 5
The concessions at MetLife Stadium offer a huge variety of food and beverage options, including full-size bars inside, and even offer smaller versions of some of their regular menu items at a reduced price. Main dishes include everything from hot dogs, empanadas, nachos, chicken tenders, burgers, pizza, tacos, burritos, cheesesteak sandwiches, pizza logs (think pizza eggrolls), and even fried clams, at a cost of $6 to $12. Additional snack and dessert options are also available, including rice and beans, peanuts, popcorn in a variety of sizes, French fries, potato chips, several types (and sizes) of pretzels, and Caesar salads, as well as cookies, brownies, boxed candy, ice cream, and fruit cups, all of which run $3 to $7.
Drink options include full alcohol menus at any of the bars inside (for example the Bow Street Irish Whiskey Bar), but at the regular concessions stands you can find bottled water, fountain or bottled soda, coffee and hot cocoa from Dunkin’ Donuts, and both canned and draft beer (either premium or regular). Soda and bottled water cost between $5 and $7, but you can get a small water for $2 if you purchase an entrée. Coffee and hot cocoa are $5 for the regular size or $10 for the large souvenir cup, with canned beer starting at $5 and draft beer starting at $9; you can also buy beer outside the stadium for $5.
The atmosphere at MetLife Stadium is much more energetic during Giants games than Jets games; the crowd is larger and louder, more fans show up in team gear, and there is quite simply just a better vibe (ostensibly because the G-Men have historically been the better team). Interestingly, however, Jets games probably have slightly better entertainment at the start, and during breaks in the action. MetLife Stadium is laid out in a bowl with three tiers, and all of the seats are bucket-style chair backs. The exterior of the facility is fronted with aluminum bands called louvers, and rows of lighting that go around the top of the stadium are set to blue during Giants games, and green during Jets games. The same goes for the MetLife logos inside the stadium (except during the singing of the national anthem, when they display a panorama of red, white, and blue). There are banners and other décor all over both the outside and inside of the stadium, including individual banners displaying the names and jersey numbers of notable former players. There is also a banner showing past championships and Super Bowls.
There are four video boards inside the stadium (one in each corner), and while they are not especially large, it doesn’t matter very much because you will be close enough to at least one of them to see replays with perfect clarity. Each corner is named after one of the four alternate sponsors, which makes it very easy to find your section and seat, since the main gates are also named for each of those companies.
In addition to the multiple video boards, MetLife Stadium also has several other features that make for a fun game day experience. For example, there is a gigantic video board outside the stadium, which interestingly enough is fronted by a decently-sized set of metal bleachers, in case you want to go to the stadium and watch the game, but not actually buy a ticket and go inside. There are also paintings of football players in action dotted around the facility, and a dune buggy with a Gatling gun on top, which is used to launch t-shirts into the stands during the game. The Giants also have their very own drum line, called the G Line, which performs during breaks in the action. In addition, there are small TVs at each of the concessions stands, so you can keep tabs on the action while waiting in line.
There is not much at all within walking distance of MetLife Stadium, as the area is basically swampland with rivers and rivulets on three sides. In fact, the Meadowlands Sports Complex includes a racetrack and the IZOD Center (formerly an NBA arena, now mainly a concert venue), so most of the surrounding area is taken up with those, and of course the massive parking lots. The only restaurant nearby is Redd’s, a sports bar and casual dining restaurant which features live music on weekends, located just outside the complex grounds. Of course, New York City is only a few miles away, so if you are in town for the weekend and looking for something to do, you will find plenty out that way if you are willing to drive a bit. There are a couple of hotels near MetLife Stadium, including a Hilton and a Hampton Inn, both of which are right outside the confines of the Sports Complex. These may run a bit steep on football weekends, however, but you can find additional options across the Hackensack River in Seacaucus. Rodeway Inn, for example, may not look like much from the outside, but is only a mile or two from MetLife Stadium (along Highway 3), and offers rooms with interior entry for only about $100 per night, which is cheap in these parts.
Giants fans are a great crowd, and bring a lot of energy to MetLife Stadium on game day. They are loud, intense, and many of them show up wearing team gear. They are knowledgeable about the game, and are very loyal to their team, which is undoubtedly helped by two Superbowl victories in the past decade. The only downside to Giants fans’ attendance has to do with the weather. Over the full season, the official attendance at MetLife Stadium during Giants games is well over 70K, or at least three-quarters full. However, attendance tends to dip late in the season as the weather gets colder (and perhaps as the team picks up a few too many losses). Tickets are still hard to come by, though, even on the secondary market, and even seats in the upper deck cost quite a bit. Therefore, it isn’t so much that the tickets to late-season games are going unsold; rather, some fans just stop showing up.
One you get inside MetLife Stadium, the concourse is very easy to move around. The aisles are wide, there are plenty of stairs, escalators, concessions stands, and bathrooms, and good signage around the facility, so finding your seat is not much of a problem. Traffic and parking, however, are a whole different matter. If you can find them, parking passes on the west side of Washington Avenue (in lots A through P, on the side of the complex that the stadium and racetrack are on) cost $40, but passes are almost always sold out, and getting out on that side is a bit of a pain, even during Jets games when there are a lot less people here. Parking on the east side of Washington Avenue (in lots 26 through 29, near the IZOD Center) is a much better option. On that side, cash parking is only $30, and it is much easier to get out after the game; there is a pedestrian bridge on that side (and even a shuttle) which you can use to get to MetLife Stadium.
Regardless of where you park, though, traffic is a nightmare, especially trying to get onto the New Jersey Turnpike after the game (which by the way is a toll road, so you may want to look into getting an E-ZPass when you plan your trip, as the cash lanes at the toll booths tend to have long lines).
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to Giants games are almost always sold out, most of them going to season ticket holders. You should be able to find them from third party re-sellers, of course, but they will likely cost over $100 apiece, even in the upper level, and much more than that in the lower bowl. Your best bet when finding tickets is probably to wait until a few days before the game, as prices tend to go down as people become desperate to sell extras (I have found this to be true for most NFL teams, with a few exceptions). Even at over $100 apiece, though, attending a game at MetLife Stadium at least once in your lifetime is worthwhile. The modern stadium has all of the bells and whistles you could ask for, and there are plenty of concessions options, and lots of energy in the stands. Of course, if you just want to visit the stadium itself, you could elect to attend a Jets game instead; tickets to those games might cost as little as $20 each, even for seats in the lower bowl.
Amenities at MetLife Stadium include charging stations for your mobile phone, lounge chairs and TVs showing off the sponsors’ technology, and being able to sit outside and watch the game on a gigantic screen while listening to the crowd noise from inside. There is also a real piece of turf you can walk on, to get a feel for what the players experience.
Arguably the biggest, and one of the most modern stadiums in the NFL, MetLife Stadium offers a lot of cool features to enhance the game day experience, and is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. Furthermore, with two teams to choose from representing both NFL conferences, even if you are not a Jets or Giants fans, it is likely that your team will come to town at some point during the upcoming season, so look into making the journey to MetLife Stadium. If you plan ahead, there are several things you can do to reduce the cost, and make your visit a little more enjoyable.
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