Part 1 - The ultimate imagined NFL tour by rail
Updated: May 19, 2020
Recently there have been some very impressive travel trips involving a visit to a game at all the different National Football League (NFL) stadiums in the USA in one regular season, i.e. between September and December. Alicia Barnhart completed the feat in 2015. Then last season Jacob Barnor from the UK also completed the trip in a new record of 84 days.
There are 32 NFL teams, but a couple of stadium share arrangements, mean that in the 2020 season there would be 30 stadiums to visit. It got me to thinking, beating 84 days aside, would it be possible to visit all 30 stadiums in one season without flying? Could this be done using Amtrak rail pass(es)? Well possibly, but it would be very hard and if the logistics of doing it by flying were difficult, then by land transport maybe it is a step too far. The regular season in the NFL is only 17 weeks. Most games are played on a Sunday afternoon, but to expand TV coverage some weekends there are games on a Friday and Monday evening and on occasion Thursday and Tuesday evenings too, which is how the 'all stadiums in one season', can be achieved if you fly.
The longest rail pass Amtrak do is for 45 days, with the long distances and relative slow speeds of US trains, perhaps we need a more realistic, and I do use the term slightly loosely here, challenge. A challenge based on that maximum Amtrak rail pass covering 45 days and 18 permitted journey segments. How many different NFL games at different stadiums could you visit using just this ticket, all whilst taking in a grand tour of the USA at a slower pace?
Would you be up for it? First some basic ground rules for the challenge: -
· You can start and end in any city, but you must travel between cities using your Amtrak pass, you can however, use local transport within a metro area once you arrive
· You can only see one game at each stadium
· You must see at least one game in each of the four Continental US time zones
How much might this roughly cost you?
Allow $899 for your 45 day Amtrak Pass
Allow $1,000 for game tickets
Allow $4,000 for accommodation both on and off train
Allow $3,000 dollars for food, beers, local travel and entertainment.
Allow, if you live outside the USA, flights, ESTA’s, insurance, contingency another $1,000
Roughly you need to budget for $10,000, maybe a bit less if you can economize. You will also need about 7 weeks off work!
Coronavirus means that the exact fixtures and dates for the 2020 NFL season are not out yet, but just to wet your appetite I have sketched out how a trip based on the 2019 regular season might have looked. I have added in some third party links to the train trips, both videos and links to the trains you can take. There are also links to game highlights you would have seen, plus occasional links to other things you might have come across on the trip. On this theoretical journey, I would have managed to see 11 games and 19 different teams. So, with a bit of lock-down imagination, lets see what this trip just might have looked like! I will put the trip up on the blog in several manageable sections and then in its entirety later, on the articles section of the website.
Saturday 7th September; fly into New York and catch the 19:01 Vermonter train from New York to Philadelphia. This train generally takes about 14 hours and runs from Vermont right in the North East of the States, down to Washington DC. However, we are only using it for a gentle introduction, with an hour and a half hop to Philadelphia, where we will stay for 3 nights. One segment of the 18 down, 17 to go.
Sunday 8th September; game 1, Washington Redskins at the Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field. One of the more intimidating places for visiting teams in the NFL, but also one of the best atmospheres, you would have seen the Eagles edge the game 32 – 27.
Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th September; 2 Days in Philadelphia before you have to set off again, you might have taken the chance to visit some of the sites in Philadelphia or Washington DC down the road, but don’t use any of the segments on that Amtrak pass, you need to save them for some up-coming epic rides.
Wednesday 11th September; You would have needed to catch the 08:54 “Carolinian” down to Charlotte North Carolina, arriving just before 9 in the evening, a long day on the train as you head south, but at least the start and end of the journey are at a civilized hour. Here is a third party YouTube video I found, covering the approximate train journey we have made so far.
Thursday 12th September; Rest up today and take in Charlotte.
Friday 13th September; First evening game, as you would have made your way to the 75,523 capacity Bank of America Stadium to see the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the hosting Carolina Panthers 14 – 20. After the game the travel starts to get a bit more hardcore for the first time. Before the game you stored your luggage at Charlotte Amtrak station, after the game you needed to retrace your steps, get your luggage and catch the 02:45 (that is 02:45 Saturday 14th September) Crescent train to Atlanta, where we will pick up and carry on the journey in the next part of the blog.