Firm lines up football packages

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NEW ORLEANS -- For some, autumn is marked by the brilliant hues of fall foliage. For others, it is hearing the similarly colorful commentary of John Madden on "Monday Night Football."

For the latter set, Destination Management here, official tour operator of the National Football League's New Orleans Saints for 11 years, offers two-night weekend football packages to the Crescent City.

Not surprisingly, the clientele for these plans is "good old football fans," said Bob Bourg, vice president and general manager, leisure division, at Destination Management.

Destination Management packages New Orleans Saints game tickets with weekend hotel stays in the Crescent City. "The fans look at it as, 'Our team will probably win, and even if they don't, we'll have a great time eating and drinking our way through New Orleans.'"

Demand for the packages, and the extent of extras offered, depends largely on what team is playing the Saints on any given weekend.

"We had 1,800 on our first home game, Green Bay, and that was unusually strong," Bourg said, compared with the 700 who were coming in for the second home game, against Pittsburgh, followed by a group of 300 for the third home game on Oct. 20, against San Francisco.

Occasionally, a pregame party will be offered if the team's fan base warrants it.

In the case of Green Bay, Bourg said fans come from all over the place because the team has a national following. A catered party prior to that game was thrown aboard the Creole Queen riverboat at the Riverwalk, he said.

"We had 1,100 people buy the package with the party included," Bourg said.

Air can be included in the packages as an option, with transfers included.

A two-night package to the Oct. 27 Atlanta Falcons game, based on accommodations at Barrone Plaza or Ramada Inn and Suites, is $239 per person, double. Single, triple and quad rates also are available.

The Nov. 24 Cleveland Browns game is priced at $179 per person, double, for two nights; the Dec. 1 Tampa Bay game, with one nights' accommodation, costs $129.

Meanwhile, the Dec. 15 Minnesota Vikings and Dec. 29 Carolina Panthers games are both priced at $169 per person, double, for two-night stays.

Game tickets are upper level, in the corner of the field or the end zone. A limited number of plaza, club and box terrace ticket upgrades are available.

Destination Management also offers private luxury suites. Commission on all packages is 10%.

Destination Management is also the operator for college football's Nokia Sugar Bowl, and new this season, the NBA's New Orleans Hornets, who have relocated from Charlotte, N.C.

For information or reservations, call (888) 670-4638 or visit the Web site at www.bigeasytravel.com.

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