While everyone is focused on their upcoming holiday plans, our team is keeping a watchful eye on college football. It’s no secret that our Maestro of Mayhem, Steve Carnes, may be the biggest college football fan on the planet. And an even bigger Ole Miss fan, where he earned his MBA. Steve is a walking thesaurus when it comes to college football stats – both old & new. His main focus is directed at where Ole Miss may end up, if their talents for the year find them in a Bowl game.
At the same time, our broader event production staff is well aware that the Sugar Bowl is a huge draw for New Orleans. Our city is such a great spot for sporting events, due to it’s walkability and temperate weather conditions. So, it seems only fitting that we write something that talks about the inner workings and recommendations on how to host a fabulous tailgate in New Orleans.
Securing a location near the Superdome for the college football playoffs can be quite a challenge AND it will be pricey. My favorite part of my job is knowing all the venues available – both well known and under the radar. Under the radar is great because they tend to be less expensive and they don’t get booked up quite as fast. There are a couple of venues that are just a couple of blocks from the Dome that won’t get scarfed up too quickly. The other option; and we love this one, is hosting directly in the French Quarter – right on or near Bourbon Street. In most cases we tend to avoid Bourbon Street because it’s such a sh*tshow; but during popular events where it draws a lot of foot traffic, it’s nice to be in the thick of it – to really get the energy of the city and guests. This is particularly true when New Orleans is hosting 2 out of town teams.
Once you’ve identified where you’re hosting; it’s time to begin planning the event. Food, drink, AV!, entertainment, decor, signage, furniture rentals, security, etc. You can try to pull all that together on your own, or you can hire someone like us to produce it for you. We have all of these items on speed dial so there is a lot less heavy lifting on the host to figure all this out from afar.
Identify Priorities for the Sugar Bowl
From a priority perspective, the food & beverage will be pretty important – especially if you’re hosting for a number of hours. In the past, we have hosted playoff tailgates where some of the guests have tickets to the game and some travel to New Orleans without tickets; thus, they watch the game at the tailgate. We’re happy to make that happen. When thinking about the food, it’s strongly encouraged that you choose it’s that will sop up the alcohol. Luckily, jambalaya, étouffée, gumbo, shrimp & grits, these are all foods that do a great job of absorbing some of the alcohol. For folks who might not want to offer a completely open bar, having a couple batched cocktails + wine & beer is a good option.
AV & entertainment will also be pretty important. You’ll want a few TV’s for the crowd to watch the broadcast & the other games that are occurring on the same day. Entertainment can either be live music or a DJ or even a playlist. The DJ may be your best bet because you can cut the music off as soon as it’s necessary, if you want folks to pay attention to part of the television broadcast. After a couple of drinks, we always see a group of folks who doesn’t mind some dance tunes.
Decor is rather easy in New Orleans – grab some Mardi Gras breads in your team’s colors and distribute them around the tailgate. It’s also possible to get them with your team’s logo on them; that’s going to cost more, but it’s always festive. We also will bring in Mardi Gras masks in the team colors as well as feathers & boas. These are fairly simple, less expensive items that make the event festive. We also absolutely love to incorporate custom go-cups into a tailgate. It’s a fun keepsake for fans to bring home with them PLUS they get to use them when they walk around the city since you’re allowed, and in some cases encouraged, to take your drink with you from location to location.
Signage will be something that we plan for in advance since Christmas and New Years fall right before the Sugar Bowl. Ideally, all the signage will be in hand before Christmas Eve, just to be on the safe side.
Furniture rentals will also need to be secured in advance mainly because there will be a lot of other, competing events and you’ll want to ensure the rental companies don’t run out of tables, chairs, linen, etc.
These are our top tips for a successful tailgate at the Sugar Bowl on January 1st, 2024. Our best advice is to give us a call. We’re here to help and tailgates are a specialty of ours.