- Start local. It would be really frustrating to shell out big bucks for tickets and drive two hours to a game, only to experience a kid-meltdown and have to leave early. The good news is that it’s also football season at your local high school! Go check out one of their football games (you should be able to find the schedule on the school’s website) one evening. The cost should be relatively cheap (our high school charges $5 for parking and $5 per ticket, with toddlers getting in for free), and your town’s high school is probably not too far from your home. If you need to leave before halftime, at least you’ll know that your kids aren’t ready for a college or major league game quite yet.
- Keep them fed and watered. Feed the kids before you go, or plan on some family-friendly tailgating. You probably won’t be able to get around stopping (and spending money) at the concession stands. You might try telling them that they can have two drinks and two snacks (or whatever makes sense to your budget), and letting them choose from there, or you might decide to just let them get whatever they want, within reason. Most sports arenas don’t allow outside food to be brought in, so keep this in mind.
- Plan for the weather. If the temperature is hot, an evening game may be more comfortable. At the very least, make sure you allow the kids plenty of drinks (preferably water) and maybe a snow-cone to help keep them cool. If it’s chilly, bring blankets, sweatshirts, hats and gloves, and splurge on a hot chocolate to warm little tummies. Particularly at night and in the higher seating levels, a stadium can get cold quickly.
- Choose seats wisely. When you order tickets, ask about aisle tickets (so that the several trips you’ll inevitably have to take to the bathroom won’t bother too many others). Also, if you’re going during the day, find out if any of the seating is shaded, and try to get a seat there.
- Be realistic. Chances are, your kids will hear a few bad words when the opposing team scores, and there might be some tears over the noise, your refusal to buy another bag of cotton candy, or simple fatigue. Keep your sense of humor about you and don’t get too frustrated if you need to leave early. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun learning experience for everyone!
Have you taken your kids to a college or professional football game? How did it go? Do you have any additional tips to share?