A year ago, many Louisville fans made the trip down to Clemson, SC and were blown away by how we do things. The tailgate scene, the pageantry, and the hospitality were enough to merit glowing articles about their trip to the Upstate.
This past week I made the long trek from Atlanta, through Chattanooga, to Nashville, and eventually Louisville, KY for the Tigers' Thursday night ESPN game against the Cards. It was immediately apparent that the Cardinal faithful wanted Tiger fans visting "the Ville" to have a similar experience.
Upon arriving in Louisville, I met up fellow STS writer, Mark Gordon (who drove in from Philadelphia), at Churchill Downs. We took a recommendation and went to El Taco Luchador near dowtown Louisville in a neighborhood called the Highlands.
We had the tacos and were impressed by the food, but even more impressed by the Louisville fans welcoming us to town. Our first encounter with a Louisville fan came while waiting in line. Noticing that we were orange clad, a woman asked us where we came from and told us everything you could know about Louisville and the surrounding area. When getting a coke, a man welcomed us and wished us a good time. While waiting for the food to come another local came by to welcome us, compliment our restaurant selection, and give us a little background on the area where we were eating.
We headed back to Churchill Downs and tailgated for a bit before someone working at the venue picked us up in a golf cart and drove us to the gate. Tickets to watch the races were only $3. Folks inside were utterly blown away by all the orange in the stands and the locals there were especially grateful we had filled their iconic race track.
Even fans online were welcoming us to their fine state.
@ryan_kantor glad to have you in the Ville! Have fun tonight!— Kevin Skaggs (@superpeen45) September 17, 2015
Finally, we headed to the game and sat next to a handful of great Louisville fans who recounted all the great stories they heard about their friends' visits to Clemson the year before. We were by a particularly belligerent Clemson fan, but the Card fans nearby were about as accommodating as possible.
After a nice chat about football, business, and life with a friendly UL couple, Clemson's defense pulled out the win for the Tigers, but even after a painful loss that dropped them to 0-3 they were still hoping we had a great visit.
As he alludes to in the tweet above, I spent the remainder of my long weekend in Nashville, visiting Honky Tonks and watching FSU on Friday and then playing an Escape Game and watching Vandy on Saturday. Next time, I may have to stay in Louisville longer (though Nashville is outstanding and on the way from Atlanta), but overall this is a road trip I can't recommend enough. Thank you to all the Louisville fans who went the extra mile to make a great impression. Mission accomplished. We're thrilled to have you in our conference and wish you nothing but health and luck the remainder of the season.