The marching band schedule is posted for you to refer to. Link:
Every year is a little different. When the band leaves is greatly dependent on what time they perform. Will it be Thursday or Friday? Will it be in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Once that is all worked out and announced by BOA, the schools will pass on everything the parents will need to know for planning purposes. The drive is about 4-1/4 hours using US-31, 4-1/2 hours using I-65, or 5 hours using I-69. For 2019, Jenison performs early afternoon on Thursday so they will spend Wednesday night in a hotel.
The marching band will stay in a different hotel nearly every year. It is not recommended that the parents stay in the same hotel. Parents may stay anywhere else in town they feel suits them the best. There is lodging all over the place, including right downtown within walking distance to Lucas Oil Stadium. These hotels are pretty pricey and book up fairly quickly. It is recommended to make reservations about 10-11 months in advance of the competition.
Lucas Oil is surrounded by businesses. Over the course of the event, they open up their parking lots for $10-20 (prices may vary). The prelim’s are not jam packed with people, but it is a normal business workday. That means there are only a few businesses available to park at. The big parking lot behind Lucas Oil is reserved for buses and equipment trucks. South of that lot (just north of I-70) are a bunch of businesses that have pretty decent parking areas. The map used in this posting has the parking areas highlighted in red. If you are going to attend their performance on Thursday, make sure you are in the area and parking at least an hour early. The stadium is large and, as you can see, the parking is kind of crazy. You need to allow time to walk to the stadium, purchase tickets, make you way inside (muss pass through security), and find a seat.
All tickets can be purchased in the northeast corner of the building or the southeast corner of the building. These areas are marked with a yellow arrow on the map in this blog. I can’t remember if these ticket windows are both open all of the time or if they close one during certain hours, but I have purchased tickets at both locations before.
Tickets can be purchased online, as well. Go to the Ticketmaster website for what sections cost what. Remember, all ticket purchases will have fees - even the tickets bought at Lucas Oil.
Preliminary performances will take up all of Thursday and Friday. All seats are general admission. You can purchase a one day ticket ($27) or a two-day ticket ($39). All tickets have additional fees but I don’t know how much they add to the ticket prices.
Semi-Finals occur on Saturday morning (6:30 am) through the late afternoon. General admission tickets can be purchased ($42) but seating will be limited to a certain area. You can also purchase a ticket for a specific section and row ($50), but not seat.
Finals are Saturday evening (7:00 pm). There are no general admission tickets available. Everything is sold by section and row ($15 - $135).
Again, being a large bustling city, there are restaurants all over. Spend a little time researching the downtown layout online to pick your destinations. Many of the competing bands will also eat downtown and there are occasions that a restaurant has been closed for these private parties. Lucas Oil also has many food vendors, but prices will be your typical arena price gouging amounts. Also, it might be a good idea to bring a pop bottle cap or water bottle cap in case they do not provide that to you. Many arenas are keeping the cap so you can’t seal off your drink. I think they secretly hope you spill it so you have to buy another one.
In case you are wondering, the band is kept very busy. They are given some free time, but it is scheduled and somewhat controlled. Even though their performance is short when compared to the length of their stay, additional rehearsals are scheduled. Meals are scheduled at venues allowing them to remain together. Their visit to the mall is your best option for seeing your student. There is one main rule, here, though. They may not leave the mall to go anywhere, even with you. Likewise, when they are given free time at the hotel, they must remain at the hotel.
GRAND PARK REHEARSAL
Their rehearsal at Grand Park is like rehearsing at GVSU. If you choose to watch their rehearsal here, please respect their schedule. There is little to no time for meeting up with your student.
Keep in mind that communication between cell phones may be limited by the large buildings and other signal blockers. Also, due to the amount of time away from charging stations, some phones may lose power part way through the day.
Within Lucas Oil are dozens of companies, colleges, and services for music students to peruse. Items can be purchased here as well as being able to join organizations and try out some instruments.
STREAM IT LIVE
If you can’t make it to town, you can still watch it live on Flomarching.com. It’s not quite the same experience as being there in person, but it is a good alternative to the time and expense of going in person. It costs $12.50 a month, but you can cancel at any time. Even after the competition, you can go back and watch specific schools perform. Sign up, pay your money, and cancel it next week after your student watches their performance online.