MANDEVILLE, La. -- The lines were long, and security checks detailed, but once inside fans taking advantage of the Saints practice at Mandeville High walked into a full NFL experience.
'I think it's going to be small, intimate,' said Carrie McNeely. 'Very, very intimate community we have. And I think the emotion is gonna be there and it's going to be just us Northshore people, and I think everybody around here is going to feel like they're performing just for us.'
For the little fans, there was fun outside the field. But for the die-hards, Drew Brees and the gang in their backyard was more than enough to turn the energy up.
'To see our Saints after 25 years, I've been gone, I'm here to see my Saints!' Quinn Meyers said. 'I got to see Brandin Cooks, Drew Brees and and all the other Saints players.'
The school took full advantage of the attention, welcoming outsiders with concessions and raffle tickets to support the local community.
'Certainly, I think it's about getting the community involved and I think they're going to do that,' said Mandeville High Principal Bruce Bundy. 'We're expecting a huge crowd and excited about having additional people on our campus that normally wouldn't be here.'
An official count isn't in yet, but we were told they could fit 4,000 fans in the stands, and they were going to allow as many people who came to line up around the field.
That standing-room only crowd appeared three layers deep in some areas.