Why You Should Take Your Family to Saints Training Camp
August in New Orleans means much more than peak hurricane season and back-to-school to New Orleans Saints fans: it’s the start of the 2022 football season!
One of the best ways to get pumped for the pre-season is to go to a Saints Training Camp practice with your family. Tickets are free! This year, there are nine training camp practices open to the public at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center (5800 Airline Drive) — from now until Thurs. Aug. 11th, 9:00-11:30 am. One practice is also open to fans at the Superdome on Aug. 21st, from 3:45-5:15pm. Tickets are available at Seat Geek. Up to 8 tickets can be claimed per person. More information is also available at Saints Training Camp Central.
But Training Camp is early, hot, and crowded! So why should you go?
Training Camp offers something for everyone
My husband and I brought our own kids (ages 9 and 13) and their cousins (ages 8 and 10) to Saints Training Camp for the first time today. While the boys (including my husband) are huge football fans and know all the players and stats, the girls and I are generally less enthusiastic. All of us had a blast.
The highlight for all of us was meeting several Saints players for autographs, selfies, and a quick chat after practice (Paulson Adebo #29, Will Lutz #3, Zack Baun #53, rookie Alontae Taylor #27). The girls and I also squealed as cheerleaders tossed free Saints merchandise (hats, lanyards, signs) into the crowd at random (okay – it might’ve JUST been me — I LOVE free stuff!). We also loved waving to Gayle Benson as she drove by in a golf cart and greeted fans.
During practice, we all enjoyed watching the team run routes, complete contact scrimmages, and practice punts and kicks. Yes, we ALL did. While I didn’t know many players besides Alvin Kamara (#41) and Michael Thomas (#13) prior to this practice, I learned a lot more about the game, the new up-and-coming players, and the incredible agility it takes to play this intense sport after sitting so close. Attending Saints Training practice is a getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse backstage, before the regular show begins.
Know Before You Go:
Parking: Free public parking is available at the Shrine on Airline parking lots (6000 Airline Drive) in Lot B. A free shuttle bus will take you on an air-conditioned ride from this lot to the practice grounds. (If you want to skip the shuttle bus lines like we did, it’s a 10 minute walk to the grounds from Lot B.)
Seating: The practice grounds offer covered (shaded) bleacher-seating and water-misting fans. Even though the temperatures surged into the 90s during our visit, we were cool and comfortable. Plan to arrive early to get the best seats (doors open at 8:15, 45 minutes before practice). Be sure to wear clothing and footwear that you don’t mind getting a little wet (with sweat or fan mist) and muddy (from the recent surplus of rain).
What to Bring: Like most Saints games at the Dome, you can’t bring much. No outside food and water is allowed. Visitors are allowed to bring in items to be autographed, and sunglasses and hats are recommended. (Our kids brought footballs, towels, and a hat that were autographed – and extra sharpies just in case.) On-site concessions are surprisingly inexpensive (bottled water – $2; cinnamon rolls and warm jumbo pretzels – $3). Only cards (no cash) are accepted. Saints merchandise is also available for purchase.
Keep in Mind: Training Camp practices are sometimes cancelled or shortened due to rain or extreme heat (the practice we attended ended at 10:45am instead of 11:30, for example). The team posts live updates on their Twitter feed – @Saints. Autographs also aren’t guaranteed (we waited in the sun for several minutes after most visitors had left to get ours). Tickets to practices also sell out fast — get your tickets soon!
After walking back to the car in the thick heat, I asked our kids if waking up early for Saints practice was worth it. “YESSS!” they all exclaimed, clutching their autographed merch. My son posted a selfie he took with Paulson Adebo moments later. While the pictures and autographed objects may soon gather dust, this experience is one we will celebrate forever.