Most people can remember their first visit to a professional stadium. For many, it is the start of a lifetime’s obsession and loyalty to a particular team. For others, it is an uncomfortable and even frightening experience which can spoil their enjoyment in the future. Make sure that your kid has a wonderful time at their first big game so that they will always look back on the day with fondness.
Imagine you are a long-term fan of the Baltimore Ravens, and you want your kid to share your enthusiasm. Of course, a lot depends on how old he is when you go to the first game. Whatever his age, try to imagine how he will experience the event and plan accordingly.
For instance, a toddler may well find the noise and crowds (which you love) alarming, so think about going to a pre-season game. The crowds are smaller and less excitable, and if you don’t get to see the whole match you won’t miss too much.
Most kids’ attention span is limited, so don’t go with pre-conceived expectations. Don’t build the anticipation too high—that way lies the risk of disappointment. Your kid will want to explore this new environment, so get there early. She can explore the stadium and watch the pre-match entertainment. Be prepared to move around a lot during the game.
If the weather is bad and you will be in an uncovered section of the stands, think again. Similarly, if she is tired, consider a different time—or leave early.
Food and Drink
Eating and drinking feature highly in any child’s enjoyment (or otherwise) of an event. Be careful about what you bring in. M&T Bank Stadium, like most, operates the NFL clear bag policy and you might be turned away if you do not comply.
For most kids, the foods and drinks that you purchase at the stadium are integral parts of the day, so you should probably buy when you get there.
Paying the Price
If you have not attended a game for a while, you might be surprised by how much everything costs. Plan ahead and know what to expect—no kid wants the game overshadowed by shocked, grumpy parents. It’s a big day, so pay up with good cheer.
The cost escalates if you are not a local but take the opportunity to make a big trip of it, so that your kid will have more to look back on with fondness. Try staying at the Renaissance by Marriott, which is well-placed for the M&T Bank Stadium and has all the facilities you would expect from a base to explore Baltimore.
With any game, the emphasis is on the fun. Prepare sensibly to introduce your kids to the excitement, but be intensely relaxed about the whole process. They will pick up on any anxiety you have, but if you go in a calm frame of mind, you may set them on course for a life of sporting fandom.