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What It’s Really Like to Attend the Super Bowl, According to an 86-Year-Old Superfan Who’s Never Missed a Game (Exclusive)

Don Crisman gave PEOPLE an exclusive look into the Big Game, including how the NFL championship event has evolved since Super Bowl I in 1967

<p>Gregory Rec/getty</p>

Gregory Rec/getty

Don Crisman is on a Super Bowl streak of his own!

The 2023 NFL Championship drew in an estimated 200 million viewers and attracted roughly 70,000 fans to the Arizona stadium, and Crisman, 86, was one of the thousands in attendance.

But that Feb. 12 game wasn't the first for the superfan. It wasn't even the second. The Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles showdown — famously remembered as the "Kelce Bowl" — was in fact his 57th championship game. That's right: He's been to every single Super Bowl since the first in 1967.

"I keep thinking this is the last one, but then something happens and here we are again," Crisman tells PEOPLE exclusively ahead of attending his 58th Super Bowl on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

What brings him back to the Big Game year after year? His reasoning "keeps evolving," Crisman says. Despite admitting that his "Mondays are moving a lot slower" post-game these days, his daughter Susie was the motivating force behind his upcoming attendance.

Related: Super Bowl 2024: A Guide to Celebrity Parties and Events in Las Vegas

"She said, 'I've only been to eight or nine [Super Bowls], I want to go to 10. So we've got to go again," Crisman shares.

"I thought it was over back at [Super Bowl] XXX but then my Patriots got in XXXI and I had to go," adds the Maine native (and New England fan).

Crisman is a member of The Never Miss a Super Bowl Club, a group of fans who've been to every NFL championship since the first nearly six decades ago. He credits "the two remaining members" as the other "half of the reason" why he still attends — "to have a little reunion and relive some of our past experiences," he says.

Read on for what it's like to attend the Super Bowl and how it's evolved through the years, according to Don Crisman who's been to every Big Game since 1967.

The stadium didn't sell out for Super Bowl I

James Flores / Getty Images Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame fullback Jim Taylor (31) turns the corner with Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Andrew Rice (58) trying to catch up during Super Bowl I, a 35-10 Packers victory on January 15, 1967
James Flores / Getty Images Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame fullback Jim Taylor (31) turns the corner with Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Andrew Rice (58) trying to catch up during Super Bowl I, a 35-10 Packers victory on January 15, 1967

One of Crisman's most notable memories from Super Bowl I in 1967 is "the fact that the stadium wasn't sold out." He thought it was "odd" that "about a third of the stadium was empty."

In fact, the NFL championship that year is the only Super Bowl to date that was not a sellout. The game was played in Los Angeles between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers, with the Wisconsin team clinching the victory.

Related: Who Played in (and Who Won!) the Last 10 Super Bowls

The Super Bowl halftime show wasn't always A-List

Dave Shopland/Shutterstock Rihanna performing during the halftime show in February 2023.
Dave Shopland/Shutterstock Rihanna performing during the halftime show in February 2023.

There's no denying that in recent years, the Super Bowl halftime show has become just as anticipated as the football game itself! In 2023, Rihanna's game day performance made history as the most-watched halftime show of all time with 121.017 million viewers.

However, the Super Bowl halftime show didn't always feature the likes of RiRi — among other A-list hitmakers like Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson and Katy Perry — recalls Crisman, who went back to Super Bowl I as an example.

"The halftime show was two college bands, none of these big entertainers," he says. "I think they had a bucket of pigeons they released in the middle of the halftime and that was about it!"

But as the years went on, the mid-game performances have evolved (though Crisman isn't always impressed): "I don't even recognize some of the people," he admits. "I go back to the Diana Ross days... Those were good."

Related: Looking Back at the Past Super Bowl Halftime Shows, from Beyoncé to Bruno (and Left Shark!)

Getting tickets to the Super Bowl isn't easy

<p>verison</p> Don Crisman with a Super Bowl ticket

verison

Don Crisman with a Super Bowl ticket

For most football fans, attending the Super Bowl in person is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is in part due to the difficulty in snagging a ticket, which has become increasingly more expensive through the years.

"I think the first Super Bowl [ticket] was $12 and now they're in four figures," says Crisman. "It seemed like the average person could attend back in those first 20 years."

Forbes reported that Super Bowl ticket prices can cost anywhere between $700 and $1800 at face value (depending on the seat) or $7,000 or more purchasing resale, writing "The supply and demand disconnect is even more pronounced because many tickets are reserved for Super Bowl corporate partners and sponsors."

This year, Crisman was surprised with two Super Bowl tickets on behalf of Verizon to keep his streak alive. Joe Russo, the Vice President and President of Global Networks and Technology at the company, hand-gifted him the pair himself.

“Verizon is known for having the best and most reliable, highest performing and secure networks across this nation," Russo said in a statement. "America relies on us. Don relies on us as a customer. The NFL relies on us. To have Don, someone who reliably attended every single Super Bowl, to be representative of the Verizon Test Force is such an honor.”

Related: All About the 2024 Super Bowl Performers, from Usher to Reba McEntire

The week leading up to the Super Bowl is jam-packed

<p>Marcus Ingram/Getty</p> Paris Hilton performs at The One Party by Uber: Super Bowl in February 2023.

Marcus Ingram/Getty

Paris Hilton performs at The One Party by Uber: Super Bowl in February 2023.

As the most-watched American television broadcast of the year, it only makes sense that excitement starts to build in the days leading up to the Super Bowl! That means, a slew of festivities take place on-site starting the week before the Big Game.

Many of the parties and events will be star-studded, but Crisman — a Super Bowl star in his own right — has a jam-packed agenda, too! "We are busy for three or four days," he says of his schedule.

First, he and the two remaining Never Miss a Super Bowl Club "do a press conference on Friday," he says. "Then we are invited to attend a couple other affairs."

Tailgating is not common at the Super Bowl

<p>Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty</p> Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs Travis fires up the crowd during the Chiefs Super Bowl LVII victory parade in February 2023.

Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs Travis fires up the crowd during the Chiefs Super Bowl LVII victory parade in February 2023.

In comparison to regular season games, tailgating is not common at the Super Bowl. "It's hard to move around the city," notes Crisman. Plus, his daughter Susie tells PEOPLE, "he likes to get [to the game] early."

Crisman says the stadium typically "opens three or four hours before" the game begins, and "I like to get planted. Lately, I'm not as mobile as I once was — and every now and then, Sue had to get me a chair to ride me up."

As for where they'll be seated in the stadium? "It's random," Susie says. "It's up in the air right now. We're waiting to find out where Verizon's seats are."

Crisman adds: "We never know what we're going to get."

Transportation can be tricky during the Super Bowl

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images Green Bay Packers fans celebrate after they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 25 in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images Green Bay Packers fans celebrate after they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 25 in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.

Last year, the 2023 Super Bowl Host Committee for the Arizona game reported "nearly 300,000 people came out to the Super Bowl Experience in downtown Phoenix."

Crisman is bracing himself for what to expect in Vegas, predicting it's "going to be difficult to get around" the city, as "parking is insane and everything's expensive." (In the past, he's taken a bus to avoid those challenges.)

Susie's advice to incoming fans: "Be ready. Transportation is nuts."

Related: Usher's Super Bowl Halftime Show Teased in Star-Studded New Trailer: '30 Years in the Making'

The food inside the Super Bowl stadium always differs

<p>Mike Ehrmann/getty</p> Food and beverage options are seen on signs at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta in 2019.

Mike Ehrmann/getty

Food and beverage options are seen on signs at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta in 2019.

While many home viewers take pride in their over-the-top Super Bowl spreads, fans attending the NFL Championship are at the mercy of what the stadium is cooking up.

And of course, the selection always differs depending on where the Super Bowl is held that year. "Different stadiums have different specialties," says Crisman.

The Super Bowl veteran said he's had typical stadium go-tos (think: nachos) in years past — though on year, Susie shares, they "got off on the wrong floor and und some really good food," like sushi!

"We weren't supposed to be there," Crisman says with a laugh.

You don't have to remain seated at the Super Bowl

Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP Don Crisman, Tom Henschel and Gregory Eaton of the Never Miss Club.
Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP Don Crisman, Tom Henschel and Gregory Eaton of the Never Miss Club.

Despite the game being a mega broadcast with cameras everywhere, Crisman doesn't recall any rules about staying in your seat the entire time. "In my book, I think too many people were up and down," he admits.

Susie says, "He doesn't like that."

"My old legs, I can't stand for a long time. If you got a lot of newbies in your section, they stand the whole damn game."

That aside, Crisman is excited to check out the Las Vegas Raiders’ state-of-the-art stadium in Nevada that opened in 2020 at a cost of $1.9 billion. "I've never been to this stadium," he says.

Joining him in the fun will be Susie. "Without her I wouldn't be going," he says, adding that his streak "would've ended eight years ago" if it wasn't for her.

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