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Quest for 31 Complete - My Thanks to Redskins Fans

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Old 01-03-2010, 03:55 PM   #1
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Quest for 31 Complete - My Thanks to Redskins Fans

Hi Guys,
I met some of you during my December 21 visit to FedExField this year. Others of your group offered up information when I was looking for guidance on what to do in DC and where to find great Redskins tailgating. I just wanted to pass along that I did finally complete my Quest to attend an NFL game in each stadium across the league as a home team fan. My last stadium was the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. I also wanted to take the time to thank you all for your hospitality and your support during my most recent visit to the FedExField. I really enjoyed my time as a Redskins fan and look forward to another opportunity to visit you guys again. The article below appeared in the Time-Picayune down in New Orleans today.


NFL superfan ranks the Superdome as one of the best places for a 'football experience'

Doug MacCash, The Times-Picayune

January 03, 2010, 5:00AM

Chris Granger / The Times-PicayuneSuperfan Hans Steiniger on the verge of completing his quest to visit all 31 NFL stadiums.

A superfan completes his quest to compare all 31 NFL stadiums

Attending a New Orleans Saints game in the Louisiana Superdome is among the top 10 experiences in the National Football League, says Hans Steiniger.

He is in a position to know.

In the past four years, the 34-year-old Detroit resident has cheeredfor the home team in all 31 National Football League stadiums fromcoast to coast. The Dec. 27 game against Tampa Bay in the Domecompleted his crusade to visit every NFL field.

Steiniger said he especially admires the "intensity, energy,rowdiness and support of the home team" that he observed among the"incredible" Crescent City fans. In the costuming department, he saidSaints supporters approach Oakland Raiders fans in outlandishness. Hemarveled at a fan dressed as a Halo video game warrior, another dressedas an alien from "Star Wars," and another as a Transformer robot. Hewas amused by a fan wearing whistle-shaped headgear, and two other fansdressed as popes.

"I was pretty impressed," he said. "That really adds to the atmosphere."

Above all, he admired the roaring Saints audience's adroit use ofthe noise-amplifying Dome to inspire the boys in black and gold andtorment the opposition. Lots of teams have closed stadiums, he pointsout, but not all crowds know how to use them to influence the game.
St.Louis Rams fans, he recalled, seem to maintain a certain Midwesternstoicism, no matter what. Ironically, Steiniger himself was labeled the"loud guy" by neighboring fans when he visited Edward Jones Stadium inSt. Louis.

Chris Granger / The Times-PicayuneSt. Louis fans dubbed Steiniger "the loud guy."

"It's refreshing to see how you guys have it down pat," he said of the Saints fans' use of volume as a weapon.テつ

He also admires the New Orleans crowd's enthusiastic scoringcelebrations. "When you guys score, it's like a mini-Mardi Gras in thestands," he said. "It's infectious."テつ

Steiniger, who witnessed the Saints dominate the first half of thegame and the Buccaneers' stunning victory in overtime, said New Orleansfans were gracious in defeat.テつ

"The Saints fan is knowledgeable enough to know their team will bounce back," he said. "They will lock up home-field advantage."

He said that despite the loss, Saints fans remained cordial, even to visitors cheering for the Bucs.テつ

"They maintain camaraderie," he said. "They show a respect forvisiting fans. It's a characteristic of the South; it's refreshing tosee. They never get to a juvenile or obnoxious level."

Such is not always the case in other stadiums. Speaking of OaklandRaiders fans, Steiniger said: "They are a great bunch of guys if you'rewearing silver and black. If you're wearing enemy colors, you canexpect a tongue-lashing like no other in the NFL. It's the most hostileenvironment; lots of four-letter expletives. They enjoy intimidating(fans of the opposing team)."
Dome 'better than fair'

In the same vein, Steiniger, father of a 9-year-old daughter, dugwhat he called the family-friendly atmosphere in the Dome. He said hesaw more children at the Saints game than at most other NFLcontests.テつ

The steep-sided bowl-shaped interior of the Dome, which wascompleted in 1975, afforded excellent sight lines, said Steiniger, whorates each stadium at his Web site, NFL Football Stadiums - Quest for 31. Hesaid he felt the overhanging mezzanines caused the sections below to bea bit shadowy. There were plenty of restrooms and concessions, hesaid.テつ

"Your stadium is good, better than fair," he said, "but it's older, and it's tough to measure up to the newer stadiums."

As an electrical engineer, Steiniger was especially smitten with thebarrel-cactus-shaped University of Phoenix Stadium where, he says, aconvoy of high-tech conveyors can move the entire natural grass fieldoutside the building into the sunlight.

A connoisseur of pregame activities, Steiniger said tailgating inNew Orleans is fair by national standards. He enjoyed the live music onthe plaza outside the Superdome before the game and was enchanted bythe Southern hospitality he experienced among New Orleans tailgaters.

But he hoped to sample more of the legendary local cuisine he'dheard so much about. After all, Miami tailgating had its Cubanbarbecue, San Francisco had its seafood boils and Green Bay had itsbratwurst. In the pregame cuisine department, the Crescent City let himdown.
"There were some sausages and hot dogs and things," he said."But I thought there'd be more stews (such as jambalaya), more freshseafood. It looked like a good time, but I thought there'd be morecooking in the parking lot."

Steiniger admits that he wasn't able to visit far-flung tailgating spots where the cooking might have matched his hopes.テつ

"I wish I'd had more time to get around to the lots," he said.

New Orleans' lack of a national-class tailgate custom might have todo with architecture. The Superdome's indoor parking makes thetailgate-friendly asphalt ocean that surrounds other stadiumsunnecessary. But Steiniger has another theory. He believes that Saintsfans aren't big tailgaters because they don't have to be.テつ

"With Bourbon Street so close, people have access to a bar district," he said.テつ

In a way, Steiniger says, he's like a fly on the wall,inconspicuously observing game-day goings-on. But in another way, he'sright up there with the most conspicuous fans. It certainly wasn't hardto spot him taking a pregame stroll down Poydras Street on Sunday. Hisclose-cropped hair was Joker green, his mouth a red Heath Ledger gash,and his face was painted a dark, glinting gold that matched well withhis Marques Colston jersey and the skin of the Superdome behind him.

As game-time approached, he strode among the tailgaters andmeandering fans, bathing in the notoriety of a morning televisionappearance. He welcomed handshakes and paused for photos and videos,occasionally breaking into a practiced sports-announcer patter as hedescribed his much envied hobby.

NFL quest is born

Steiniger was a dedicated football fan long before he began hisquest to visit every NFL venue. Born in Buffalo, N.Y., his firstloyalty is to the Bills and snowy Ralph Wilson Stadium. When he's onthe road to distant football cities, he records Buffalo games forreplay on the wide-screen TV in his memorabilia-adorned footballroom.テつ

Steiniger might have remained a stationary Bills devotee if hehadn't taken a job with a Detroit firm that builds experimentalmilitary vehicles. His move to the Motor City in 2000 introduced him toFord Field and put him within reasonable driving distance of Chicago,Cleveland and other football destinations.テつ

In time, Steiniger became fascinated by the differences in thecrowds and customs from one city to the next and came to realize thatthe character of what he calls "the home team experience" is alwaysunique.テつ

As his 31st birthday approached, Steiniger formulated a plan. Hewould attempt to attend a home game with each NFL team. Since theGiants and Jets share Giants Stadium, that would mean 31 destinationsin all.テつ

To cover the costs of his four-year pilgrimage, Steiniger set asidehis annual tax refund. He kept the quest overhead as low as possible byshopping for cut-rate tickets. Two-hundred dollars is the most he haspaid for a seat. At least once he waited until just before kickoff toget the best bargain. He rooms with family and friends in NFL citieswhenever possible and drives to avoid airfares. Steiniger recentlyretired his trustworthy 1997 Ford Explorer after 240,000 miles andpurchased what he calls his "first big boy car," a Hummer H3.

In July, Steiniger married his longtime girlfriend after proposingvia the scoreboard at an Arizona Cardinals game -- their weddinginvitations were designed to look like NFL game tickets -- and his wifehas accompanied him on much of his journey.

Crystal Steiniger, who shared driving duties on the 20-hour trekfrom Detroit to New Orleans that began on Christmas Day, said she was afootball neophyte before meeting Hans, but now she understands thenuances of the game as well as most fans. She said she's very excited-- and a little relieved -- that Hans is completing the quest. The paceof the 2009 season, with two or three games per month, has been alittle hectic, she said.テつ

Steiniger has kept a running commentary of his experiences in 21st-century style, with a regularly updated Web sitethat has gained him a modest sponsorship. Last year, a ticket agencyoffered Steiniger discount tickets in exchange for a link on thesite.テつ

He said the end of his "quest for 31" is a bittersweet experiencethat came more quickly than he expected. He anticipated visiting onlytwo or three cities a year, but his enthusiasm snowballed. This season,he visited 16 fields. He said it was just a scheduling coincidence thatput New Orleans last on the list to visit.テつ

Steiniger hopes to continue the quest more casually in the future,traveling to the stadiums his wife missed on the first go-round. He hasnot yet ranked the NFL sites from one to 31, but he might do so in thefuture. Asked to name a favorite or two, he pointed to Lambeau Field inGreen Bay, Wis., which he describes as a pro football mecca, andCowboys Stadium in Dallas, with its glitzy, over-the-top excesses.Asked to name a stadium or two near the bottom of the pile, hereluctantly mentioned the San Diego Chargers' Qualcomm Stadium and theAtlanta Falcons' Georgia Dome.テつ

"For someone like me who enjoys the NFL, it's just been afascinating journey," Steiniger said of the hobby that's allowed him toleapfrog across 21 states. "It's been an overwhelming experience, morethan I expected."

Arts writer Doug MacCash can be reached at dmaccash@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3481. For more art stories and videos, visit www.nola.com/arts. Follow him on Twitter.
My journey to visit all 31 NFL stadiums
NFL Stadium Reviews - Buffalo Bills Fan
Check out my visit to FedEx Field at:
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