I was never much of a basketball fan. In college, I knew Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and the late, great Len Bias. But I never saw them play. Over the years I met Scotty Pippin, John Salley and more – but I still never went to a game. I attended 2 Hornets games when I first moved to New Orleans. They were fun but I felt I’d gotten the idea, amazing athletes playing a ball game with a lot of running. Like soccer. I was always a football fan.
Then the Bensons, the couple who owned the Saints, bought the Pelicans. Tom put his wife Gayle in charge of remaking the game day experience. My husband was a Pelicans fan from day one, so we went to check it out. Approaching the Arena was like entering a festival with live music, dancing, games, stilt walkers and a bouncy house. There was entertainment throughout the game – a drum line, Jumbotron-inspired moments and truly athletic dancers in adorable uniforms doing strong, funky-cool routines. I felt included, like there was something for everyone – so we bought season tickets.
As a Pelicans Season Ticket Holder (STH), there’s a whole new level of fun and inclusion starting with the beer garden. STH’s get 2 free beers with every game. There are free snacks like bags of pretzels and fresh-popped popcorn. Best of all, there are other STH’s so everyone there has something in common – their love for and commitment to the Pelicans.
Being a STH also means you can be Fan of the Game, sit in the lower level with access to their high-end food and get featured on the Jumbotron. I’ve also gotten to be Captain of the Game which meant I got to be on the floor and meet the game captain, Rajon Rondo.
There’s also Fan Appreciation Day, when STH’s get to go out to the training facility and meet players, play games, attend Q&A’s, win prizes and more. We met Solomon Hill and Nikola Mirotic this year – before the power-boosting shave and accompanying Gillette contract. We even did an interview as members of Squad 6 – the new name for STH’s. SQUAD 6 VIDEO
I love having a permanent address, a predictable perch surrounded by neighbors. We get to know each other, celebrate together, support each other on the Dance Cam. It’s a privilege to watch people like Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins play. We all started the season excited to see Boogie & The Brow humble other teams. That ended when Boogie suffered a season-ending achilles injury. But the team restructured, re-strategized and took us into the playoffs.
It was a thrilling ride. We wore matching red “Do It Bigger” t-shirts and swung fan-towels. We were entertained by rappers, brass bands and Grammy winners/nominees like Irma Thomas and Trombone Shorty. We watched dance teams from the PeliKids to the golden sweat-suited hip-hopping seniors and the 610 Stompers. We ate Po Boys, Shrimp & Grits and Bread Pudding. We screamed and Who Datted when Saints players like Cam Jordan and Alvin Kamara attended games. And we believed in our playoff team! I cheered so hard during one game that I popped my wrist – with another home game to go.
The season is over for us now but it was an amazing journey. We were there on Halloween, Easter and once I attended as a pink wig and corset-wearing Pussyfooter when I didn’t have time to change before the game. We laughed at the embarrassing leak in the ceiling that cancelled a previous game when Pierre the Pelican danced to Singing in the Rain. We bopped to Kermit Ruffins, the Soul Rebels and other local favorites. We won games we never expected to and lost games feeling frustrated, but always loving our team. It was a great season.