“Should I spend the money, take the time, and go through all of the effort to take my child to see the Notre Dame Fighting Irish play football inside Notre Dame Stadium?”
I have no doubt that many of you have asked that question before — whether it be to yourself, or to other fans. College football is the greatest sport in America, and you want to be able to share those experiences with those that you love the most. Still, it may seem like an impossibility, or something that you don’t want to get in over your head.
CASH RULES EVERYTHING AROUND ME, C.R.E.A.M.
The first thing you need to figure out is if it economically feasible for you to take a child to a Notre Dame game. These things aren’t cheap, and yes... that’s real gold on that dome. While ticket prices have dramatically increased over the last couple of decades, that’s only part of the cost. Travel, parking, food, impulsive bookstore finds, and a wide variety of other things that you can or have to spend your money on that day.
Let’s say you live a couple hours away and want to take your 10 year old to a game. Here is a generic (and conservative) rundown of the costs:
- $140 for 2 tickets
- $45 for full tank of gas
- $30 parking
- $10 program
- $50 food and drink for the day
That’s $275 for a full day, and as I said... that’s a pretty lowball number (and just ONE kid). More probable is another $50 for food and drink, $50 on merchandise, and another $40 added to the ticket price if it’s a bigger game. So now you’re sitting with your wallet short around $400.
For some that’s no big deal, but for others it’s a great deal. Know your situation, and plan accordingly. There are many ways to skimp around the price if you put in the effort.
WHAT AGE IS BEST?
If you’re asking someone else what age is appropriate for a kid to start attending Notre Dame football games, you’re disrespecting your own parenting skills. You know your kid best, and you know what they are able to handle. Make no mistake about it, a gameday at Notre Dame is long and at times strenuous (and that’s without figuring in the weather conditions).
Is your child capable of sitting/standing in a large crowd of people for three and a half hours? Are they even interested in football? Are they “bothered” by certain things? This could mean that any kid between the ages of 7 and 13 could fall one way or another with these answers.
What age? That’s a good question that has no real answer other than to use your best judgement for the circumstances at hand.
THE GANG GOES TO NOTRE DAME
The first game I ever attended at Notre Dame Stadium was with my father, but not until I was 21. (It was in 1999 against the Oklahoma Sooners and it was incredible). So, for me as the Site Manager for one of the biggest Notre Dame sites out there, I feel a certain obligation to have as many answers as possible for Notre Dame fans. In this case, I had to find out for myself. I needed to take one of my kids to a Notre Dame football game.
I haven’t watched a game from the stands since the 2015 season. Since then, I have worked the press box for One Foot Down. Things have obviously changed quite a bit in regards to the stadium since 2015, and much of what has changed is either difficult to notice in the box, or has sailed right by given the different reason of being there.
I have three children; Olivia (9), Ryan Victor (7), and Dylan (3). I tabbed Ryan as my companion for the day. I chose Ryan — not because he is my oldest son, but because he has been so interested in “daddy’s work” over the years. It was time to show him what I’m up to in the fall. Dylan the Destroyer was a non-starter.
FULL DISCLAIMER: My experience with Ryan isn’t exactly what the average fan goes through on a gameday. While I was there with tickets in hand like everyone else, I was able to briefly show him the press box and a few other things that just aren’t available to the general public. We also kept running into readers of the site (which is always SO DOPE) so as we were moving along on campus, we made a few stops (which for a 7 year old “takes forever”).
My biggest reason for the day was to spend some really good quality time with Ryan by taking him to a football game. The side reason was to understand how a game flows for those in the stands, and more exactly for those with kids.
I’ll spare you all of the “dad details” from the day (although if you ask me I’ll go on and on about my day with Ryan). What I want to focus on is what we were all there for to begin with... the game.
We sat in section 3 row 8. It was a good spot because you get that full force of the band to start the game, and Ryan was really impressed with the size of the band. In fact, all of the pregame spectacles worked like a charm with Ryan. By the time the game started, he was fully invested and interested in what the game would produce.
As with a lot of kids his age, he can lose interest quickly and become a bit restless. I have to admit that the Jumbotron worked like a charm for him. While I may have been slightly annoyed with the constant broadcasting of videos during a game that was annoying in its own right, it seemed to keep the wiggles away from Ryan, and certainly worked wonders during the oppressive TV timeouts from NBC.
I would have liked a little more from the band, as their playing time during the game seemed quite diminished compared to pre-Jumbotron days.
I fell into the trap. I wasn’t sure Ryan was going to need a sweatshirt that day, so he left it at the house. Of course he said that he was getting a little cold, and I dutifully headed to a stadium store to
make a mortgage payment buy him a sweatshirt. I didn’t exactly keep track of what the food and drink prices were. We got a couple of hot dogs, a couple of drinks, and a couple of soft pretzels before the game started and then at halftime we grabbed some lemonade and caramel corn. Coin was spent, but I caught myself wearing a particularly large grin when I handed Ryan his first half-dollar coin from Notre Dame.
We lucked out by having the two seats directly in front of us sit empty the entire game. We yelled, we cheered, we stood, we sat, and had a blast — despite the game action being less than what we had expected from a performance standpoint. Through it all, Ryan had a good time and stayed in line with the action on the field as well as having fun with those around us.
ALL THE FEELS
It was a success all the way around, and I firmly believe that the changes Notre Dame has made with the game experience is what really made it that way. “Notre Disney” is often the term we all give it, but for a game with an opponent like Ball State with a 7 year old sidekick... it was totally worth it and made for an unforgettable day.
Should you take your kid to a Notre Dame football game? Absolutely. As I said... you will have to judge your own circumstances and your own child’s personal behavior, but if they line up, you really need to do this — and even make it an annual thing. I certainly plan on that for the future.
If you’re still uncertain, I highly recommend the Blue-Gold game as a trial run. The costs are significantly less, and it’s not an all day event that could cause a few issues.
If you have any questions at all, please ask me. You can use the comments below, or email me using the contact link. I’m leaving out a ton of details in this story only because they aren’t directly related to the answer. It really became an emotional day as so many feelings flooded my body having my son finally able to come and enjoy something that has been and still is such a huge part of my life. So many of the things I have come to take for granted after all this time revealed themselves in a rebirth of fandom as I shared them with Ryan for the first time.
Again... yes. Over and over again, yes.