A primer of basic information for fans planning to or thinking about attending the Ragin' Cajuns' first-ever Division I football bowl game
Some quick fan information for the upcoming R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl:
The 11th annual New Orleans Bowl is Saturday, Dec. 17, kickoff at 8:05 p.m. (approximately), at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (73,208 capacity). All team practices will also be held at the Superdome beginning on either Tuesday or Wednesday, Dec. 13-14. The game will air nationally on ESPN and on ESPN Radio at 8 p.m., with the local radio broadcast on KPEL-AM (1420) and KHXT-FM (107.9).
The game traditionally matches a Sun Belt Conference team against an opponent from Conference USA. UL's opponent could be determined early next week after the regular-season games of Saturday, Nov. 26. Winning team receives the New Orleans Bowl trophy after the game, and a Most Outstanding Player selected by news media covering the game will also be honored postgame.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation is the managing entity of the New Orleans Bowl. R&L Carriers, a global transportation service, is the title sponsor of the bowl game.
UL received 9,250 tickets from the bowl game on Monday, and director of athletics Scott Farmer said that another 5,000 were on the way. If those run out which the UL athletic department desperately hopes will happen they'll have access to more, but the next set of tickets won't be directly behind the Ragin' Cajun bench they'll likely be more into the curves of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. In other words, if you want to be behind the bench, buy your tickets soon.
Most tickets in the Dome are $42, but UL received an allotment of 2,000 tickets in the "Plaza Club" area that is directly behind the bench between the 30-yard lines. Those tickets are $62 each.
Tickets may be purchased at either the Ragin' Cajun ticket office in front of the Moore Field baseball park from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday or at the Cajundome box office from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. Phone orders are available at 851-2011 at the UL box office or 265-2357 at the Cajundome.
There is also a mail or FAX-in form available online at www.ragincajuns.com. A link to order tickets online was not available as of Tuesday but could be available soon.
UL officials are strongly encouraging fans to purchase tickets through the UL athletic department at the above locations or sites. Purchases through UL helps offset bowl expenses and helps establish a ticket-sale tradition that can be used to influence future bowl-game selections, while tickets purchased through outside agencies (TicketMaster, StubHub, scalpers, etc.) do not help the university's coffers.
Group tickets for organizations of 20 or more are available through the bowl office at a $30 rate. Information is available from group sales manager Derek Dupepe at (504) 525-5678.
The largest crowd in New Orleans Bowl history is 30,228 for the 2009 game matching Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss. Attendance has been over 30,000 twice in 10 years, and the game drew 29,159 for last year's Troy-Ohio contest.
The New Orleans Bowl web site (www.neworleansbowl.org) lists 21 "partner hotels" with reservations phone numbers or the opportunity to click a link and book online. They include several hotels in the vicinity of the Superdome, including the next-door Hyatt Regency with a $119 rate for single/double occupancy. But buyer beware the first hotel on the list is the Marriott on Canal Street with a $99 rate listed, but that rate expired in November and the only remaining rooms at UL's designated hotel are more than $50 higher per night, if any remain.
If they're still available, the Hilton Riverside at the end of Poydras St. lists a $92 rate and the Sheraton on Canal St. lists an $89 rate for fans.
Among the good things about college bowl games are the other activities surrounding the game itself. The official Friday noon luncheon with both teams is at the Marriott, with some tickets available to the general public at $45 each by calling Kristen LaNasa at the bowl office at (504) 525-5678. Former New Orleans Saints standout Darren Sharper is the guest speaker.
"Fan Fest" is set for Friday from 6-9 p.m. at Spanish Plaza located next to the Riverwalk, near the end of Poydras St. Both teams' spirit groups will take part along with a "Battle of the Bands" between the two schools, and also scheduled to perform in a free concert are the Rebirth Brass Band and the Givers Band.
Game-day activities include a "Fan Jazz Brunch" at 10 a.m. at The Chicory on Fulton Street, and a free tailgate party featuring Band Camp beginning at 5:30 at Champions Square, an outdoor festival venue next to the Superdome.
The UL Alumni Association is also putting together activities including a pre-game bash to be held inside the Superdome. Details are still being finalized.
There are several activities that are players-only or staff-and-families only. UL's players will enjoy a trip to the venerable Rock N' Bowl, a New Orleans landmark, on Tuesday night and will take part in a visit to New Orleans Children's Hospital on Thursday.
The UL Alumni Association is putting together two bus trips, both departing on Saturday one leaving early in the day and one at mid-afternoon. Details are available by calling 482-0900.
The Superdome parking garages will be available on a pay basis. Other private parking is located nearby the Dome. It's approximately at two-hour, 20-minute drive from Cajun Field to the Superdome.
With UL's selection to the game, bowl officials are attempting to have a lot set aside for RV and tailgating activities. More information will be available prior to the game at (504) 525-5678.
The Cajuns, as Sun Belt representative, are the designated home team, and the Sun Belt squad normally faces an opponent from Conference USA. Twice in the game's 10-year history, though, C-USA did not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill its quota of bowl game slots, and that could happen this year. C-USA has six designated bowl games for its teams Liberty for its league champion, St. Petersburg, Hawai'I, Bell Helicopter and Ticket City along with New Orleans and currently has only four bowl-eligible teams entering the final two weeks of the regular season (Houston at 11-0, Southern Miss at 9-2, Tulsa at 8-3 and SMU at 6-5). East Carolina and Marshall are both 5-6 and play each other this weekend, so one of those will become the fifth bowl-eligible team, and if UTEP (5-6) beats Central Florida on Saturday the Miners will be the sixth bowl-eligible team.
But, if unbeaten Houston defeats Tulsa on Saturday, wins the C-USA championship game against (likely) Southern Mississippi and gets an expected bid to a BCS bowl, then C-USA would again be one team short of filling its quota, and the New Orleans Bowl could wind up with an at-large team like it did last year when Ohio played as an at-large team and lost to Troy.
The first New Orleans Bowl was played on Dec. 18, 2001, at the end of the first year of football competition in the Sun Belt Conference. Colorado State beat Sun Belt champion North Texas that year, but the Sun Belt team has won four of the last five games including the last two.
There is Acadiana history involving the New Orleans Bowl even before UL's participation this year. After the ravages of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 which rendered the Superdome unusable, New Orleans Bowl officials moved the 2005 bowl game to Lafayette's Cajun Field only weeks before the game. Southern Miss defeated Arkansas State 31-19 in front of 18,338 fans.