By Audrey Elwood, Newswire Intern
Walking down West Freedom Way the home of the Bengals tailgate scene prior to each home game, you could feel the energy pumping through the streets of Downtown. As a proud fan of the Seattle Seahawks, I was nervous to be in such a lively crowd of the opposing team, but once I got to Paycor Stadium, also known as “The Jungle,” all of those worries were put to rest.
This was my first football tailgate, and while I am no expert, I can tell you the Bengals have a very lively one. There was live music from a DJ, and a ton of great food options, including brats, hamburgers and the one-of-a-kind sweet tang of Cincinnati chili. Fans also were also indulging in liquid courage in the form of the “Bengals Bomb” drink, made up of equal parts Red Bull, Jagermeister and Sunkist. Bengals fans came up to us and showed us Cincinnati hospitality in only the fashion they could. Even if you are just visiting, make sure to show up to the tailgate. Our only regret was not showing up earlier.
The line to get in was short and efficient. Once we were inside, we realized our mistake. The food and drink options were limited and expensive. It was $17 for an underserved small drink, and options for food are restricted to a Pepsi Grab-n-Go, Skyline Chili stand and Wings-n-Rings as far as name-brand eats. Food at Paycor Stadium, in comparison to the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ball Park and its baseball cap full of nachos, was sad and underwhelming. Your best bet is getting some Condado tacos at the tailgate.
The gameday atmosphere of the stadium was fantastic. Paycor Stadium is huge, with a little more than 66,000 seats and 144 suites. However, it never felt overwhelming, and there was comfort in the big crowd. I was sitting on the away side, so there was a higher amount of Seahawks fans than there would normally be. While sometimes you can feel isolated from the environment when you are the opposing team, I never felt that way in Paycor.
The traditions within The Jungle were very endearing. it was shocking that there is a whole song that accompanies the “Who Dey!” chant, whichthe whole stadium would erupt in after every touchdown.
Alongside the chant, it was Breast Cancer Awareness Night, and during halftime, there was a heartwarming ringing of the bells for cancer survivors. It added some gravity and weight to the game, while keeping the energy up.
As the game was winding down, the stadium became tense. Within the fourth quarter, Bengals safety Cam Taylor-Britt intercepted a Geno Smith pass, Bengal Evan McPherson hit a 47-yard field goal and the Bengals defense stymied the Seahawks twice with their backs less than ten yards from the end zone. In the last minute and a half, the Seahawks advanced from the Bengals 50 to the nine. All of those cuddly Bengals fans became vicious, and the mood shifted toward ferocity.
A Bengals game is a must- do for anyone new to the area, or anyone paying a weekend visit to the Queen City. The festivities within the stadium were more fun than the game itself. While I will forever be biased to the Seahawks’ 68,740 -seat Lumen Field, Paycor Stadium is a great stand-in just 11 minutes from Xavier’s campus.