NFL Stadium #6: MetLife Stadium (NY Giants)

I flew into Newark Wednesday night and was picked up by my best friend from college, Liz. If you read my previous blog, Ballparks on a Budget, you might remember her from my New York and Philly adventures. She’s a married lady now, living in with her husband Juan in Jersey City. Whenever I come to the New York area I stay with her, so it’s more than just sports trips, it’s a way to catch up since she can’t always make it back to Columbus. They both work and couldn’t go to the Giants game with me Thursday night, but that’s no biggie… I like going by myself anyways!

To get to MetLife Stadium I opted to take the NJ Lightrail from Newport to the Hoboken PATH station, where I switched trains to Secaucus, where I hopped on a shuttle train to the stadium which is the Meadowland Station. It sounds way more complicated that in was and it was only $6.10 one way. I bought roundtrip tickets, but they never checked the tickets on the way back. When in doubt about knowing where to go via public transit, ask people in the home team apparel, they’re always helpful. I must’ve asked five people during this trip just to make sure. It only took me an hour to get to the stadium (hypothetical 22-minute drive- but rush hour traffic?), but I was glad I left early as our train was detained about 15 minutes near the stadium due to other trains unloading.

Once off the train I walked around the stadium and checked out the tailgate scene. Well, the complete lack of a tailgate scene actually. There wasn’t much going on out in the parking lots and that wasn’t surprising to me as it was Thursday night and I’ve watched enough Yankees games over the years to see this fan base is fashionably late due to city traffic (well that’s what I assume). The back of the lots where the RVs were parked was a little more happenin’ and the G-Line was performing to a growing group of fans. I like that most of the teams have drum lines, they’re talented and it brings a small taste of college football to the pro level which I enjoy. If you can’t tell, I’m a huge college fan and have made (and will still make) comparisons between the two.

The Giants had issued me a press pass, so I picked it up at the Pepsi Gate and entered the large outside concourse that surrounds the stadium. There are five gates known by their sponsors- Pepsi, MetLife, Verizon, SAP, and Bud Light. I was meeting my stadium witness for this game, Jana, at the MetlLife gate and walked over. This gate had a lot of games and interactive things for fans to do, as well as a large set up for the local radio crew. Coming from a sports radio background, I inspected their set up a bit and was very impressed. That’s how the top market rolls I see. Jana and I talked for a little bit, she was so sweet and helpful! She works for the stadium and would be my contact again on Sunday. We talked briefly about some things that switch between the teams and then made plans to meet up by the Verizon escalators following the game.

I made my way into the inner concourse and went to get a close-up view of the field. The hour before kickoff clock hadn’t even started and only the kickers from each team were out warming up. I noticed that the stadium was very symmetrical. It looked the same on both sides and end zones. Even looking up at the press box, it was a little unclear where it started and the suites ended. I had a feeling I would get turned around in here, and I did. After snapping a few pre-game pictures, I went up to the press box to look around and grab something to eat. It was a very nice press box and seemed lower to the field that the previous two I had been in. The only real lack in there is the lack of game environment, which totally makes sense as people are hard at work doing their jobs. I headed down to the 200 level concourse where I had thought I spied end zone standing room for the anthem and the start of the game.

Once down behind the 100 level seats, I found that the standing room was for lower bowl ticket holders, but I was able to stay with my pass. The stadium was still filling up with fans, but the crowd that was in their seats was loud and into the game. Giants being 0-2 and all, people were hungry for the win. I ended up watching the first quarter and talked to an interesting Giants fan. He owned a boat and did real fishing, not the stuff you see on Deadliest Catch. He had some interesting takes on improving the game too. Like the NFL he wants to eliminate the kickoff, but because it’s “I had the ball, now it’s your turn.” Too systematic for him. Instead, he said they should just drop the ball from a helicopter and let the teams fight for it. Well, that would certainly be interesting. He was a lot of fun and I laughed a good deal while cheering on the Giants. After they scored, I noted that the team didn’t have a touchdown song, chant, horse (I’ll love you forever Warpaint), or flags. They also didn’t celebrate their first downs like most of the other teams I visited so far have. Nope, they keep it simple sweetie, just cheer!

Though I was having a good time with my new buddy, I had to keep moving to explore the rest of the stadium. I wished him well in his business and headed over to the little bar area I spotted under the suites along the Giants sideline. It was a Bud Light Zone and across the concourse, you could go into an actual Jameson whiskey bar, called The Bow Street. It was super cute, but you’d have to watch the game on TV, which in my humble opinion, defeats the point of going to the game in the first place. I opted for the Bud Light Zone instead and made my way behind the stands to watch the game with another new friend. This gentleman was a Giants season ticketholder for 52 years (well the tickets were in his family) and he had the most delightful Jersey accent. He actually lives in Rhode Island, which he’s the first person I’ve ever met from that state and drives in for the games. That’s dedication, but he’s “Hoboken-born and raised.” I liked his gruff mannerisms and he kept yelling, “Come on’ E!” with such familiarity and passion. The view from this area is very obstructed as the seats come up high and people stand to cheer, as they should. I’m lucky I’m tall and there weren’t people sitting directly in front of me or I wouldn’t have been able to see much.

Right before halftime I decided to head up to the 300 level and found you can stand in the alcoves and watch the game as long as you’re not in anyone’s way. During halftime they let you mill around on the little platform a bit more. For Spanish Heritage Month, the Giants had this amazing salsa group perform called Baila Conmigo. They were fantastic! Oh my goodness, if my legs could move half as fast as theirs, I would be happy. The guy next to me said I didn’t need to worry, as long I had a solid fist pump. How Jersey was that?! We talked for a little bit and I found out he’s a professional rap battler (think Eminem in 8 Mile). I met the most eclectic group of Giants fans during this game!

Once the second half started up, the ushers told us to find our seats and I walked through the concourse to a section near the 50-yard line, found an empty seat and watched the third quarter from there. The view of the field was nice and the stadium was still into the game at this point. The Giants had lost their last two late apparently, so no one feeling comfortable about the lead. The fans by me were vocal and jawing with one another a little. Again, I soaked in the Jersey accent, which is de-light-ful!

For the fourth quarter, I went down to the press box and had a great view of Redskins running back Matt Jones’ late fumble out of end zone. It’s ruled touchback and ouch, that had to suck. What a turn of events- you think you’re going to score and then boom! it’s the other team’s ball on their 20. Ball protection lesson learned the hard way. With the final five minutes left on the game clock and my phone charged sufficiently, I went back to my original spot behind the end zone. I thought the game would end quickly, but both teams decided to score a few touchdowns and there were many more penalties. It was a long final quarter, but I finally saw another home team win! I took my post game selfies and was sad about the harsh stadium lighting. Guinness needs to keep these gremlin photos of me to themselves!

Before embarking on my train ride back to Jersey City, I met up with Jana and she signed my witness log book. Though the stadium had cleared out significantly in the fourth quarter, the lines to shuttle were very long and it took about two hours to get back to Liz’s house. As we were leaving the stadium, I could see that car traffic wasn’t much better, as there were tailgate lights as far as I could see. Post-game traffic is just part of the experience!

Remember I am raising money for the Ronald McDonald House in Central Ohio. Please donate by clicking here.

Special thank you to Jana for her time and assistance during my visit!


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