Fighting Irish Weekends
South Bend, Indiana
Football is something of a second religion for the University of Notre Dame, where team spirit turns each home-game weekend into a multiday event. Groups can walk out of the home team’s tunnel onto the field during Friday Tunnel Tours. On Friday night, students lead a pep rally on campus that features Notre Dame cheerleaders, the leprechaun mascot and the pom squad, culminating in a performance of the Notre Dame Victory March. Then on Saturday, the school sets up a hospitality village around the stadium, where visitors can see pregame concerts and participate in tailgating festivities.
The Dallas Cowboys have long been known as America’s Team, and their palatial home facility might be the country’s most famous stadium. Built at a cost of $1.2 billion and opened in 2009, AT&T Stadium is famous for its sheer size. Groups can take 90-minute guided tours of the stadium to see the press box, visit the locker rooms and walk on the field. They also see the signature 160-by-72-foot video screen, which was the largest high-definition video screen in the world when it was built. The tour also showcases some of the 21 pieces of contemporary art that were commissioned for the stadium.
Baltimore Marching Ravens
The history of professional football in Baltimore is storied, with two different teams leaving the city during the 20th century. Although the Colts famously left Charm City for Indianapolis in 1984, the team’s marching band stayed in Baltimore and continued to uphold its musical tradition despite the lack of a pro football team to support. After another team came to town in the ’90s, the band was rebranded as the Baltimore Marching Ravens and is now one of only two marching bands in the NFL. Fans can see the band perform at Baltimore home games or hear concerts at various events throughout the city.
Howard University ‘Showtime’ Marching Band
Though Howard University isn’t a football powerhouse, fans pack William Greene Stadium in Washington on fall Saturdays nonetheless. In addition to the school spirit and intimate community feel of the small stadium, spectators come to see the halftime performances of the Howard University “Showtime” Marching Band, which prides itself on boisterous, energetic productions that sometimes overshadow the football game itself. Accompanied by the Ooh La La Dancers and a high-stepping drum major, the band members frequently break out into dance themselves, putting a colorful and distinctive twist on a long-standing college football tradition.