Tiger fans make trip to desert
Saturday, 09/10, 7:15 p.m.
By William Kalec
TEMPE, ARIZ. - It took a five-hour drive, a five-hour flight, a lengthy layover in Denver, and a pricey parking spot, but Jacque Courville of Baton Rouge finally found his desert oasis, dang it.
Bulldozer couldn’t move him from this spot. Only kickoff.
Twelve-pack of Coors Light on the ground, kept cool under the shade of a sprawling palm tree, plenty of friends nearby, a little girl (cute as can be) yelling, “TIGER BIAT” at the top of her tiny lungs as Arizona State fans stroll past the makeshift LSU ticket will-call. Courville takes a sip.
“The traffic back home has been horrendous,” Courville said. “It takes 45 minutes to go 10 miles. Hey, and that’s just us. People got it much worse and the whole state is affected. I’m glad we were able to afford to come. We’re having a good time. It’s worth it to get back to normal.”
Tiger fans hardly invaded the Valley of the Sun, but did their best to make a presence. At 10:30 a.m., in Lot 4 - roughly three scoring drives away from the south entrance, a group of locals bet the security guards and set up a tailgate tent - modern day Magellans sticking their flag wherever they pleased. No one else was around.
Three hours prior to kickoff, the tent was shifted 50 feet to the left. Apparently you can’t set up your spread across six parking spaces, out here.
“We’ve met a lot of Tigers fans out here,” said Gabe Pray of Amite, who was without power for eight days after Hurricane Katrina. “It’s just time to get away. That’s one of the reasons we came. You got to get your football fix.”
Given the short notice and two time zone distance between home sites (technically, LSU was the home team Saturday night and wore its traditional white), LSU fans’ resourcefulness was tested. After examining the outrageous flight prices out of Baton Rouge, Courville decided to fly out of Houston. Must have been 10 or so passengers dressed in purple and gold on the flight.
When the 11:45 a.m. Continental flight from Houston to Phoenix landed, the flight attendant earned some favor when she thanked passengers for flying and then entered an ad-lib “Geaux Tigers!”
At 2 p.m. LSU set up a will-call ticket location outside the Carson Student-Athlete Center, and received a consistent flow up until kickoff. LSU ticket manager Brian Broussard said there were a few exchangers from the New Orleans area, specifically St. Tammany, but that the majority of fans who made the trip were from other areas of the state less directly affected.
“Considering the numbers we usually have travel on a road tip and then considering what happened in five days, this is amazing,” Broussard said. “We’ve got about 3,000 but I’m sure we have more than that with the online sale (through Arizona State). It’s been crazy, it’s been busy, but it’s been great.”