In our sub-tropical climate, the arrival of “fall” can be hard to pinpoint. Temperatures don’t begin falling until well after kids start school, and sipping a pumpkin spice latte in a sweater isn’t something we can do until November (if we ever can do it at all). So, for most of us in the South, “fall” means one thing and one thing only: It’s time for football.
In South Louisiana there’s no lack of football to watch, with several high school and college teams nearby, not to mention our beloved Saints, who always manage to thrill (even if they disappoint) us every season. Like all great sports experiences, timing, cost and overwhelming atmospheres don’t always make these events family-friendly. Luckily, in our own backyard, Tulane University has gone to great lengths to make football game days an experience for fans both young and old as it celebrates five years being back Uptown after years of playing the Superdome.
“Our goal is community outreach and bringing fans in of all ages, particularly our youngest ones,” says Matt Thompson, Assistant Director of Marketing and Promotions at Tulane Athletics. This outreach includes having a “Family Fun Zone” option for season tickets for $300 (which includes two adult and two children tickets) as well as an on-campus tailgating atmosphere that’s both family-friendly and easily accessible for local fans.
The game day experience all takes place in Tulane’s LBC quadrangle, just off Freret Street going toward Claiborne Avenue toward Yulman Stadium. Ample green space and pedestrian walkways allow strollers to pass easily, kids to wander freely and even room to throw a football around before game time. Almost every week (especially for Saturday games), there are bouncy houses and other inflatables for older kids. The atmosphere is warm and, like most campuses on game day, it’s easy to make friends and find yourself being welcomed with a plate of food and opinions on the upcoming game.
While it can be hard for a young family to commit the time and energy to a full season of any sport, even if you aren’t a season ticket holder, any young fan can also join (or be gifted a membership to) the Riptide Kid’s Club. For $20 kids get a T-shirt, backpack, Frisbee and rally towel, as well as entrance to select Tulane events throughout the year and invitations to special events, including the designated Kid’s Club football game on October 20 versus Southern Methodist University that will feature a few pre-game events and gifts for members. The membership this year even comes with an Audubon Zoo pass. The biggest hit in our house, however, has been the membership card and the yearly birthday card from Riptide himself, which makes kids feel connected to something bigger than themselves.
Even after the football season ends, members enjoy entrance to select games and events, including volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball. Even for the littlest fans that don’t know anything about sports, these games offer a great opportunity to teach kids about sitting down, paying attention and learning the rules of the game. The particular benefit of basketball and volleyball is that they’re fast-moving sports played indoors, which means short attention spans stay engaged and weather is rarely a factor (a boon if you have a young baby in tow). Since the campus is compact and the facilities fairly new, concessions and bathrooms are always at hand and there’s ample to staff to help.
All in all, Tulane has given families an easy, and affordable, way to spend some quality family time during those weekends during the school year when the days get shorter and we all need a break a from the daily grind by watching the old gridiron.
Just the Facts …
Tulane’s remaining home football games: October 20, November 20 and November 24 (times TBD)
Ticket and Kid’s Club Information: 861-WAVE (9283), TulaneGreenWave.com.