By Colby Gable
After solidifying the 4th straight Sun Belt Championship, now for the second consecutive season, the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl will feature Appalachian State football near the end of December. In the game’s 19 year history, this will be the first time the New Orleans Bowl will feature a ranked team, as Appalachian will be entering at #20 in the College Football Playoff Ranking, playing against the unranked and Conference USA Runner-Up, University of Alabama-Birmingham. For Appalachian, this will be another addition to the program’s five-year bowl run, with a 53-12 record in this time span, resulting in the Mountaineers taking trips to two Camilla Bowls, a Dollar General Bowl and now, two New Orleans Bowls.
Beyond the field, however, the trip to New Orleans is a chance for the Appalachian faithful to visit one of the most famous and cultured cities in the country. Being held in the also heralded Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the game provides a lot to do for fans that ultimately decide to make the trip to Louisiana.
On the eve of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, participate in the 6th annual Dashing Through the Dome event at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. This two-mile run throughout the dome is a fun and competitive activity for all. Participants will receive a t-shirt, post-race refreshments and a general admission ticket to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Tickets for Dashing Through the Dome range from $10-50 and are available now.
After dashing through the dome, Rock the Bowl with the New Orleans Bowl pregame concert. Visiting guests, VIPs and music fans alike are invited to Champion Square Friday, Dec. 20 for the annual pregame concert. This year’s talent has been announced as The B-52’s and special guest, Berlin. The self-described “World’s Best Party Band,” was formed in 1976 from Georgia, and has been reviewed by places like Yahoo! Voices saying, “I can think of no other band that is synonymous with the words party and good times than the B-52’s. Their infectious music layered with dance grooves galore, that frankly just makes your body move has been in high gear for the past 35 years.”
The day of the game, there is also the opportunity for fans to participate in “Cornhole in the Dome.” This will be the 3rd installment of the GNO Cornhole Classic. The tournament will take place inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome’s St. Charles Club Lounge on Saturday, December 21 from 2:30 PM – 6:30 PM. All GNO Cornhole Classic participants must have a ticket to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, and the game’s clear bag policy will apply. Parking will be available at the special event rate.
Apart from the game’s surrounding festivities, many from the High Country have been able to use the game’s New Orleans setting to explore part of the country they may have otherwise not been as inclined to visit. This includes John “Beer Hat Guy” Harris, who we talked to a little about his time at the New Orleans Bowl in 2018. “It was definitely crazy how walking down Bourbon Street felt like King Street,” Harris said. “I went with my “Liberry” tailgate group, and we’ve been tailgating together 10 years now. After we won the championship last year, some of us decided to go down and meet up together, and some of us are doing it this year again.”
Luckily for Harris, the surrounding shops, bars, and restaurants become quickly filled with Appalachian fans days before the game’s kickoff. “We met out at Bourbon Street which was the App State hangout. They had like a designated bar for App fans. Everywhere you went there was an App fan on the street. It almost made it feel like you were on King Street. We went around the city, into the Garden District, and stayed in the French Quarter as well. We got to visit a lot of great restaurants and bars. But when you are on Bourbon Street, its pretty cool how you are 500-600 miles away but you will run into someone you know or the same people you’d see in Boone.”
Despite a numerous variety of places to go and visit, Harris’ favorite experience down in NOLA was “Going to the Superdome and taking that experience in. Being inside of it and seeing the size of the Superdome itself was amazing. But really being on Bourbon Street for the pregame was a lot of fun. That might have been the most fun, just going up and down the street and enjoying festivities. And it wasn’t necessarily just drinking, although we did a good amount of drinking. Its just everywhere you were, you saw an App fan. And you’re always high-fiving each other. Your politics and all that fall to the wayside, and everyone is just a Mountaineer.”
Charles Haynes, the director of the Black and Gold Podcast in Boone, also talked about his time in New Orleans last year, and some of the aspects of the visit this year he is looking forward to. “New Orleans is by far a better bowl town that App fans have experienced than Montgomery. There’s a lot to do, and it always feels like there’s something around the corner you can miss out on it seems. But besides the game, I really enjoyed the alumni gatherings they had where everyone met up and you see everyone you normally see at home games and celebrate with people in a town that most people hadn’t been to before.” Haynes also mentioned there is a specific alumni gathering this year prior to the game in a banquet room in the Superdome which he describes as “can’t miss” after he wasn’t able to attend last year. He also expects “a similar turnout from last year’s attendance even though the date is different from last year and technically a week later on the calendar. I haven’t heard any official numbers on ticket sales yet, but I assume it will be a about the same turnout as last year.”
High Country Press Advertising and Art Director, Debbie Carter, visited New Orleans for the bowl game last year, and talked a little about her experience as well, saying, “By Friday afternoon, you’re walking down Bourbon Street and every two minutes you’re seeing a group of App fans. Even the proprietors of the restaurants are like, ‘you guys are here.’ And everyone always says, ‘App shows up.’ You go to this dome where the Saints play and we’ve got our whole side of the field covered. And we’re loud! We went outside the dome and ran into a couple with blue shirts and they told us how intimidating it was to see that.”
Many of the App faithful are also able to stay in the same hotel as the team, which leads to, “all that Appalachian pageantry,” said Debbie. “And it’s just really exciting to get to see the team for the whole weekend. It’s definitely like going to a home game. And the band marches down Bourbon Street and you’ll see them off and on in different places.” For her favorite part of the trip however, she cites, “Probably the Superdome. That was really cool. It’s so big, and I’d been in the old Georgia Dome once before, but the Mercedes Dome was amazing. And they sold liquor too.”
The schedule of events for the game in New Orleans this year begins Thursday, December 19th until 7 P.M on Saturday. The official schedule is as follows:
Thursday, Dec. 19, 6-7 p.m.
New Orleans Marriott Lobby (555 Canal St)
Join “Voice of the Mountaineers” Adam Witten and special guests from the App State football team for a preview of the New Orleans Bowl, live from the lobby inside the New Orleans Marriott. For those who cannot attend in person, the show is scheduled to air live on the Appalachian Sports Network from Learfield IMG College and also available via the TuneIn app.
Friday, Dec. 20, 11:30 a.m.
New Orleans Marriott (555 Canal St)
Click Here for Tickets
Fans are invited to join R+L Carriers for the annual luncheon where team spirit and college football pageantry will be on full display as both university bands perform, head coaches speak, and Ryan Clark, Super Bowl champion and ESPN Analyst, addresses student-athletes and attendees.
App State Fan Headquarters
Friday, Dec. 20
Time and Location TBA
Gather with your fellow Mountaineer fans on the night before the big game.
Dashing Through the Dome Run
Friday, Dec. 20, 6 p.m.
Click Here to Register
Fans are invited to participate in a “Ramp Run Through the Dome”, followed by post-race party. This unique 2-mile race runs participants into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, up and around the Dome’s Ground, Plaza and Terrace Levels, then down the ramps finishing on the field. All participants will receive a race T-shirt and free post-race refreshments.
Friday Night Concert
Friday, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m.
The B-52s with special guest, Berlin
Click here for Tickets
On the eve of kick-off, the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, will host a concert in Champions Square. The Friday Night Concert is a open to all visiting fans, locals, VIPs, alumni and students. The concert will be headlined by the B-52s with special guest, Berlin.
Yoga in the Dome
Saturday, Dec. 21, 10 a.m.
Click Here to Register
Get your mind, body and soul ready before the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. This one-time only Yoga session is on Saturday, Dec. 21 at 10 a.m. The class will take place on the field.
Saturday, Dec. 21, prior to kickoff
Click here to Register
Held in partnership with UCA, the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Cheer Clinic welcomes all junior high and high school cheerleaders to join us for a one-of-a-kind experience at the nationally televised R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Cheerleaders will participate in a cheer clinic before kickoff and perform during halftime in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome!
Official Tailgate Party for App State Alumni & Fans
Saturday, Dec. 21, 4-7 p.m.
Benson Tower (1450 Poydras St. #404)
Click here to Register by Dec. 20
Join the Appalachian State University Alumni Association tailgate party and enjoy pre-game festivities, food and beverages with your fellow Mountaineers at the Benson Tower, adjacent to one of America’s most iconic stadium venues, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The game kicks off at 9 P.M., December 21st, on ESPN. For questions or contact information, visit https://www.neworleansbowl.org
To look at App State’s new digital New Orleans Bowl Guidebook, visit http://digital.learfieldimgcollege.com/appalachian-state-bowl-guide.html
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