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Observer on the ground: Las Vegas

It was a memorable weekend in Las Vegas with the Irish beating No. 16 BYU in a thrilling game at Allegiant Stadium. Aside from the exhilarating game, I had a blast seeing everything that Vegas had to offer.

We departed from South Bend at 4:30 p.m. Friday and then had about a two-hour layover in Dallas. After paying $15 for arguably the most disgusting burger of my life, we boarded our flight to Las Vegas.

We touched down in Sin City around 9 p.m. local time, and from the moment we left the plane, the hustle and bustle of Vegas was apparent. After walking through the Vegas airport, we called an Uber and headed to our Renaissance hotel, which was just off the strip.

A lot of the senior class had made their way down to Vegas for the weekend, including some of my friends, so I quickly changed and headed to the Venetian Hotel to meet up with them.

After walking through the lobby and the main casino floor, I went upstairs to the TAO Nightclub to find my friends. I paid my cover and found some of my friends hanging out at the bar. I got a drink that was way too expensive, and then we headed to the dance floor.

It was a surreal experience to be dancing at a fancy nightclub in Vegas with all my friends. It was definitely a different experience from a normal night in South Bend. But it was a great time. The club had some fun special effects and smoke to enhance the experience too. There were a group of probably 20 or so of us, and it was a night I will always remember.

I left the club around 2 a.m., and by that point, I was hungry, so I got myself a pizza and Ubered back to the hotel for the night.

We woke up around 10 a.m. the next day and took an Uber over to the strip to get some breakfast to start the day. We found out very quickly that getting breakfast in Vegas is a whole ordeal, as most of the buffets and restaurants had crazy lines. In the end, we just walked to an Einstein’s to get some food quickly.

Walking around the strip, we noticed plenty of Irish and BYU fans having a good time before the game on Saturday. I was wearing my long sleeve button-down and khakis for the game, which was unfortunate, considering the 90-degree weather. But I toughed it out as we walked the strip. We walked through The Cosmopolitan, New York, the Luxor, Mandalay Bay, and MGM Grand as we took in all the sights of Vegas.

We were about to call an Uber to the stadium, but we noticed that the Nissan Heisman House had a tent up near New York, so we stopped check it out. We managed to get a picture of ourselves with the Heisman trophy, which was unexpected but very cool. Then, we called our Uber to Allegiant stadium.

Upon arrival at Allegiant Stadium, I was kind of surprised by how empty most of the tailgating lots were. We stopped by the Shamrock Series Fan Fest for a little bit, but it wasn’t anything too special. We decided to grab our credentials and make our way into Allegiant Stadium to get out of the heat.

I was immediately impressed with Allegiant when we entered. The facilities were top-class, and the design of the stadium was spectacular. The glass windows and multiple scoreboards throughout the stadium somewhat reminded me of U.S. Bank Stadium back home in Minneapolis.

We made our way to the press box to drop off our stuff, which was top-tier as well. We had great seats in the front row of the box, which had a truly spectacular view. There was still some time before the game, so we went down to the concourse to walk around the stadium. It was apparent to me when we were walking around the stadium that the atmosphere would be world-class on Saturday.

We headed back up to the press box to get some food. I was surprised to see that the kitchen staff had gone full out with an Irish-themed dinner. We had some traditional Irish staples like mashed potatoes, cabbage and shepherd’s pie. The staff even went as far as having green hot dog buns to embrace the Shamrock Series.

With about five minutes left in the game, we got the opportunity to head down to the field to watch the end of the game and prepare for the postgame press conference. After watching the Irish close the game out, we stood by the team and student section as the players sang the Alma Mater. We then went to the press conference, wrote our stories and Ubered back to the hotel.

I laid down for about 30 minutes. Then, I headed back to the strip to meet up with my friends. Eventually, I ended up at Planet Hollywood’s casino, and I watched one of my friends play Craps. I think I started to kind of understand the rules, but it was a little complicated for me. After hanging out there for about an hour, we walked to New York to go the Irish pub there.

It was a more chill night. But the five of us talked for a while, listened to some live music and just soaked in the last moments of our time in Vegas.

I got back to the hotel around 2:30 a.m. and slept for around five hours. Then, we headed to the airport to catch our morning flight.

All in all, the Las Vegas weekend was one of the most memorable weekends of my life. To go on such a special trip my senior year and see a fantastic Notre Dame victory was all I could ask for.

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