NEW ORLEANS (astateredwolves.com) – Set to play in the 2015 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl this Saturday, the Arkansas State football team arrived at its team hotel Tuesday afternoon and took part in its first official bowl function later that evening at the Sun Belt Conference Athlete Party.
When the Red Wolves stepped off the team buses, they were welcomed by a jazz band while Mardi Gras beads were issued to the travel party as they entered the hotel. Members of the team, including head coach Blake Anderson, also spent some time with the media shortly after arriving to discuss topics surrounding bowl week in New Orleans.
"The fans base and players have waited for this, honestly, for a long time," said Anderson. "I think it became clear to me when we won (the outright Sun Belt championship) in Jonesboro, a lot of people wanted to end up in this bowl game. So, there is a lot of excitement built into being here."
A-State players picked up some of their bowl gifts at the hotel later that afternoon, and then departed for the 16,000-square foot Shamrock event center for a welcome party that featured food, games, music and karaoke. The Red Wolves also had the opportunity to take in some of the New Orleans atmosphere Tuesday night as well.
"Today is really relaxed," said Anderson. "Most of our guys have never been here so we want to let them get out, eat some good food and see what New Orleans is like. We'll have a conditioning day and a walk-through tomorrow, and then we'll get back into a normal Thursday-Friday-Saturday cycle like we normally do every week. We had four solid work days before we left and got the foundation in place. I want to let them enjoy the bowl today and tomorrow – celebrate getting here and this senior class."
With A-State's next official bowl event not scheduled until Thursday, the Red Wolves will spend a large portion of Wednesday holding various team and position meetings at the hotel before working out at the New Orleans Saints' practice facility at 4:40 p.m. The Red Wolves will face Louisiana Tech at the Superdome this Saturday at 8 p.m.
"We have a lot to play for in this game," Anderson said. "It will be a challenge against a good Louisiana Tech team, but the opportunity to get to 10 wins would be a great way to send our seniors out and a great way to carry some momentum into next season. A win would maybe even get us into a conversation to get into the Top 25 – we're receiving votes at this point and just need to finish strong. So, there are a lot of reasons a win here Saturday would mean a lot to everyone."
Arkansas State fans are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets for the New Orleans Bowl through the A-State Ticket Office to directly support the Red Wolves' bowl trip and to ensure they receive priority seating within the designated Arkansas State area.
All remaining upper and lower reserved locations are $43, while Arkansas State University student tickets are $20 each. Students must have a valid student ID and purchase tickets directly from the A-State Ticket Office, located at the Convocation Center's lower red entrance. $63 tickets are already sold out. Fans can purchase tickets by visiting the A-State Ticket Office in person, by calling 870-972-2781, or online by visiting AStateRedWolves.com/BowlCentral.