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Nov 2014 Stadium of the Month – EnergySolutions Arena

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 20, 2014

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EnergySolutions Arena before new scoreboard (image from Wikimedia Commons)

 

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This month’s Stadium feature brings us to what is a dying breed in the NBA…a relatively young arena with great sightlines but not enough money-making specialty seating. Out in Salt Lake City, the Utah Jazz play in EnergySolutions Arena, but I can’t warm up to that name so let’s go back and call the old Delta Center. Built in 1991, the arena is large but intimate as two decks of seating feature a significant amount of green seats (capacity is close to 20,000). It is clearly built with basketball in mind and with just one ring of small luxury suites, all fans get to enjoy decent seats and views no matter the row location. This brand of arena from the late 80s and early 90s is fading as money-hungry owners and teams demand new ones to fill their pocket, even though these 20-25 year old facilities are completely serviceable. We’ve already seen Orlando’s disappear and Sacramento’s will be gone soon too. Higher ups are trying to get a new arena to replace the Bradley Center in Milwaukee as well and let’s hope they fail as their sole efforts are to make more money. So far in Utah, things are quiet and their current home arena seems safe. Besides this place even survived a tornado!.

There is more to the Delta Center Jazz experience worth taking in. The downtown location in a great city surrounded by beautiful scenery is ideal and inside, Utah’s fans are some of the loudest in the NBA. Go back to the days of the 1997 Finals against Chicago and remember how deafening it got. Hopefully the fans aren’t fixated on the new scoreboard instead of looking at the floor as the screen is incredible for those that like those amenities (it’s too large for my liking). The building also has history as several Winter Olympic events were held here in 2002. Not many of these arena types are left in the NBA and if you are going for strictly a great game-watching experience, check out this arena in Salt Lake City.

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Kingston-Montreal Weekend

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 11, 2014

K-Rock Centre Exterior
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Before even reaching Canada, we had another overlying story to contend with this year. My brother joining me on the trip, Eric, had a leg infection discovered the day before and with the potential serious impacts that can result with spread or evolution of infections, at the first sign of a fever, we were out of Canada and into a hospital. Thankfully we made it thru both days as the leg healed and antibiotics helped the wound tolerable to walk on.

Aside from a constant rain in upstate NY, it was an uneventful ride, while the hilarious AutoRap app created the entertainment until arriving in Kingston. Once in the Limestone City, I got a first taste of winter with temps in the 30s, which is exceptionally cold when you are used to the mild temps of the prior season. We parked along Brock Street and grabbed lunch at the Golden Rooster Deli before fighting thru the biting wind to see the city. With a low skyline, the downtown is full of historic buildings, many of them filled with an eclectic mix of great restaurants. After getting some outdoor pictures of the nearby arena, we walked past the striking City Hall, down Ontario Street to the Great Lakes Maritime Museum. Though met with a strong sense of boredom by Eric, we checked out the very thorough and descriptive museum, which displayed everything marine oriented. Good for anyone with a strong interest in that, but it was a little dry even for me. I wanted to check out the Original Hockey Hall of Fame, but they are rebuilding and just have a few displays in their far away location.

Dinner was at Harper’s Burger Bar and then we walked to the Rogers K-Rock Centre, the only sports facility I know with the shameful double advertisement as Rogers bought the radio station, just like everything else it is snatching in Canada. The building rates very well and is overall nice with little touches that make it more appealing, like the hints of limestone and the nearby remnants of the original Fort Frontenac. Inside, the concourse features a Kingston Sports Hall of Fame, which includes Don Cherry as a member. A fairly standard oval bowl circles the rink, while at the top is a nice walk around feature for standing and drink rails. Festivities for Remembrance Day were quite touching before the game and a decent crowd was there for the event. The Frontenacs were not able to put on a good show as they were sloppy, lethargic and offensively challenged. North Bay opened the scoring in a rather dull game with a goal by Nick Paul at 11:21 of the 2nd. The killer was a PP goal with just 3.4 seconds left and the Battalion were in control as they led the shot total 22-13. By the way, those North Bay uniforms are hideous and I can’t believe they kept Brampton’s nickname when the franchise moved. Anyway, a pair of bad Kingston penalties led to another North Bay goal and it wasn’t until this point (halfway thru the 3rd) that the Frontenacs woke up. Spencer Watson finally scored with a little more than three minutes left and they were close to getting a second. Alas, North Bay added an empty netter and won 4-1. Overall, a decent arena in an even better location with a downtown worth spending some time before or after a game.

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Guy LaPointe Retirement

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Montreal was a three hour drive away and we left around 8 AM. It’s interesting how as you go further east in Ontario, the road signs are both French and English, yet the second you reach Quebec, any English in the signs disappear. The people however are very helpful in Southern Quebec with the language and it amazes me how bilingual Montreal is. The first stop was Mont Royal, where I led Eric in the wrong direction before getting us to the Chalet and the amazing overlook of the entire city. We scored parking for the day at a modest $10 in Place Bonaventure, a shopping/office complex that included our hotel. Getting out of the area was a maze as we looked like bumbling idiots trying to get out.

After reaching daylight, it was a decent walk to Old Montreal for lunch and some walking thru the historic streets. We saw the Basilica Notre Dame and Jacques-Cartier Place before making another long walk to the Bell Centre. I’ve read about Montreal’s Underground City and the miles of climate-controlled tunnels but where is it? Without finding an entrance, we walked in the cold and finally reached the ugly building late afternoon. The Bell Centre is such a blah brick building and there is a ton of construction around it. We spent time first at the wonderful Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame before going inside. My second time here and I still am not a fan of this place. It is too big and the only quasi-affordable seats in the upper-deck are ridiculously high up. Lots of obstructions block the rafters/scoreboard view from the 400 seats, along with really dark lighting. Now the atmosphere is another story as this is the Canadiens’ best feature with loud fans filling the arena with cheers and chants like “Go Habs Go” and “Ole”. Montreal also knows how to do ceremonies and I felt honored to be there on a night that Guy Lapointe saw his number retired. It was very classy and well-done. The pre-game intro was great too, but nothing like the one they were doing in the playoffs last year. After a slow start, a Brendan Gallagher blast gave the Canadiens the lead in the second period. Minnesota tied it up five minutes later, but a goal by Lars Eller with 50 seconds left in the period gave Montreal back the lead and then they scored a pair in the third as the crowd really started enjoying their Saturday Night. By a slight margin, old MSG was louder during a regular season game I saw, but this was close. One more walk to the hotel finished off 5.5 miles of walking on the day (whoops forgot Eric was on a bad leg). It was a tiring, but fun trip and look for a Kingston review late in the week and a Stadium Journey Bell Centre update later on.

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Oh Canada

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 3, 2014

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This weekend is Canada Trip #2 in a quest to see every OHL arena (more details in a future post). While thinking about this in the summer, my brother and I wanted to get back to an NHL rink too and you can never go wrong with Montreal. But I think this may the wrong trip as we should have done an Erie-Pittsburgh journey this year to see Connor McDavid before he goes all megastar (which he is getting close to already in hockey circles…McDavid has a ridiculous 42 points in 14 games for the undefeated 13-0-0-1 Otters). Regardless, I am really pumped for this trip and it starts in the historic city of Kingston on Friday Night. The Frontenacs play in a beautiful, relatively new building and we plan on spending some time downtown along Princess Street before walking over to the K-Rock Centre for the game. Then Saturday, we’ll leave early in the morning for the three hour drive to Montreal. We don’t have a lot of time to tour one of North America’s best cities, but we’ll try to see the best sites including Mont Royal and Old Montreal. Some Thank You Points helped with a decent downtown hotel that is walking distance to the Bell Centre, where the Canadiens take on Minnesota at 7 PM. It’s my second visit to the arena, but one that badly needs a re-visit (with digital pictures) as I was quite early in my journeys (#15). We may see a bit of snow, but hopefully it is not accompanied by a biting wind, otherwise I can handle the cold weather. The correct passport is sitting on my desk ready to go, making sure to avoid last year’s oversight.

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Oct 2014 Stadium of the Month – Franklin Field

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 28, 2014

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Sick of college football games lasting over 4 hours? Tired of financial greed and the almighty dollar dominating FBS? Then it’s time to jump down a level and check out a game in FCS, where there are some good teams and more importantly, a decent assortment of unique stadiums to visit. That is no more apparent than in the Ivy League, where historic teams play in often ancient facilities that retain charm, size and character. I’ve been to five out of the eight and it’s hard to pick one as this month’s Stadium of the Month, but when pressed, I have to go with Franklin Field in Philadelphia. As home of the Penn Quakers, this venue dates back well over a century and has plenty to like.

With an absence of luxury seating, the double-decker horseshoe stadium provides great sightlines and that is despite a track that surrounds the football field. This isn’t just any track as the famed Penn Relays are competed annually with huge crowds. A great backdrop of Philly’s skyline greets those in the South stands and the venue itself sits next to another place that makes jaws drop, The Palestra. Be sure to walk around Franklin Field as there is a good deal of historical murals and statues worth viewing and there are many quirks in this historic venue. My favorite are the unique seats formed at the back of the first-level seating as the design is nothing like what you would see today. While crowds aren’t exactly large for Quaker football, the fans that are there still hang on to tradition and the Toast Toss is a sight to behold before the start of the fourth quarter. Philadelphia has a ton of sporting options, but be sure not to look past this one and take some time on a Saturday afternoon to enjoy a refreshing day of football.

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Hockey Update – The Wheels Are Set In Motion

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 21, 2014

ECHL Map

The new ECHL, which includes teams from the now-defunct CHL. Just two teams away from the ability to become a true AA league with affiliates for each franchise (image from ECHL)

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The biggest story in the hockey world regarding franchises, leagues and active arenas is the potential colosial restructuring coming of the lower leagues. With the western teams in the NHL understandably wanting teams closer to home base, the whole design of the minor leagues could be in flux. The wheels have somewhat been set in motion this season with the very recent absorption of the 7 CHL teams into the ECHL. Remarkably, this happened right near to the start of the season, but somehow the league re-did the schedule and divisions in a tight timeframe. The ECHL now is a 28 team league, just two short of having a legit AA imprint and partnership with the AHL-NHL. It should be noted that the San Francisco Gulls only lasted a season and a half in the practically empty Cow Palace and replacing them is the Indy Fuel, which will play in a renovated, historic and awesome Fairgrounds Coliseum. Also gone from this season are the Las Vegas Wranglers as they leave Orleans Arena and their idea of putting a new hockey rink on the roof of a casino didn’t exactly work out. From the CHL, there were 10 teams playing last season and with 7 making the move to the ECHL, the other three folded. Two of them are hoping to return next season, but for now the Arizona SunDogs and the Denver Cutthroats go dark, along with their respective arenas on The List. The Family Arena, former home to the defunct St. Charles Chill, will remain thanks to indoor football playing in the facility.

In the AHL, the historic league retains it’s general make-up for at least this year (and for selfish reasons, I hope for much longer), but there are still a few very notable moves. Ironically, the most recent western expansion move did not work out and the Abbotsford franchise folded. That leaves a $66 million, relatively new 7000 seat building tenant-less and unfortunately off The List (with probably a lot of pissed off taxpayers). The Flames affiliate sets up shop in Glens Falls, where the Phantoms have left to be just an hour outside Philly as the brand new PPL Center has been completed in downtown Allentown. Lehigh Valley is a true AAA market with both the AHL and IL baseball now in town. I’ll give it a few years to work the kinks out, but I can not wait to visit the Phantoms and PPL as I now will have AHL hockey just an hour drive from me. In Portland, the lease issue has been settled between the Pirates and the Cumberland County Civic Center. Hockey returned to a near sellout crowd last week and the building has been renamed Cross Insurance Arena, in conjunction with renovations that include premium seating and enhanced concessions. Renovations also finished in another older arena as Binghamton added a new video scoreboard above center ice. This goes with the replacement of every arena seat last year. Their naming rights is a little strange as the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena not only pays homage to the veteran Maines, but it is also a deal with the family owned Maines Paper and Food Service company, which is paying $75,000 a year for Floyd’s name on the building. Lastly, Hamilton sold out and got rid of a pretty good name (Copps Coliseum) for a generic corporate one (FirstOntario Centre).

Down in Juniors, a new arena has opened in the league that I have a long-term plan to see every team play a home game. The OHL’s Niagara IceDogs move into the Meridian Center in Saint Catharine’s. It certainly is a pricey building at $50 million for an arena with just around 5000 seats. Also of note, the Ottawa 67s return to the Ottawa Civic Center as they were forced to depart last season due to renovations for both the arena and the attached stadium that houses this year’s expansion CFL franchise. Annoyingly, both the arena and stadium will be called TD Place.

America’s top junior league featured a few franchise changes as the USHL welcomed the Madison Capitols. Veterans Memorial Coliseum (inside the bigger Alliant Energy Center complex) will host the team and this a homecoming of sorts as the Capitols played in the same league and arena from 1984-1995. In Sioux Falls, the Stampede move into a surprisingly large and state-of-the-art arena given their location and region. With a capacity of 10,450, the Denny Sanford Premier Center not only will host regular hockey, but also may put in a bid to host the First Four games in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Of course this makes absolutely no sense given South Dakota’s remoteness and poor accessibility given travel is a big consideration for those games. Researching this new arena, it was challenging to actually find out about it because the whole thing is a huge complex and it was actually built around the existing Sioux Falls Arena, which will still host events including Augustana College basketball games. That makes Augustana the very rare college, let alone D-II, to have two basketball arenas on The List as their split on-campus home meets capacity requirements. 

Wrapping things up at the college level, Rochester Institute of Technology just opened a 4,000-seat building on campus. The Gene Polisseni Center gives a RIT a first-class facility that should be filled with orange many nights. Though they are from my hometown, I can’t quite root for them as I was at plenty of RIT-Oswego (my alma mater) games back when the Tigers were Division III. Given the power of their program and a beautiful facility as well, I’m surprised the Lakers have not followed suit and moved up to the D-I level yet.

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Musings

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 16, 2014

Heinz Field in Pittsburgh (Photo Credit: Stadium Journey)

Heinz Field in Pittsburgh (Photo Credit: Stadium Journey)

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- What in the world is with all of the empty seats at Heinz Field? We are used to seeing Steeler fans infiltrate road stadiums and make lots of noise, but where are they at home? Dating back to last year and the first few games this season, it is quite notable the amount of yellow plastic showing up on the TV screen. We all know that in terms of popularity, the Steelers are at the top of the league, so what is going on? If cost of tickets was a reason, that would be awesome, because I would hope it starts a movement by fans (in all of the major leagues) to lower prices. But given that most seats at that stadium are season ticket holders that have already paid for their seat earlier in the year, I doubt that’s it (though they can certainly try to make some of that money back in the secondary market). It can’t be that the team sucks either, because that was not an excuse in Week 1, where I would rank emptiness of stadiums as following: Dolphins, Buccaneers, Rams, Steelers. I have no idea what it is and would love for someone with more connections and resources to take a closer look.

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- On the subject of football…how much does Phil Simms suck? Words aren’t enough for his suckitude and I hate watching one of his games. How he has been on a #1 announce team for well over a decade is beyond me. Probably my biggest irk with Simms is how he constantly contradicts himself when trying to make a point. This happens so often when the replay comes up and he casually shifts sides as the evidence is clear he is an idiot. It drives me nuts there is not more video evidence of this on YouTube and I vow to make a compilation the rest of the season. 

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- Plenty has been written on the failures of the US Ryder Cup team and what needs to be corrected. As a passionate golfer and fan of the sport, the answer certainly is muddy. Better strategy? Better team spirit? Better players? I think all the guesses are useless if some of the best golfers and golfer minds in the country can’t figure it out yet. No matter his ineptitude and disconnect, I certainly did feel bad for Tom Watson during that incredibly awkward press conference. After each painful loss, two years seems so far away and I’m hoping once we get back to Hazeltine that we can make a turnaround. The more we lose, the more pressure builds and those that golf certainly know that pressure is not exactly a positive feeling when trying to hit a golf ball.

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- Coming full circle on empty stadiums, I’m sure many saw those pictures of the Florida Panthers game played in front of almost nobody at the Sunrise Center. To be fair, it was a Monday afternoon on Columbus Day, but there were plenty watching in Boston playing at the same time. Anyway, the Panthers troubles are well documented, along with the overall failure of Bettman’s southern expansion. I’ll apologize in advance if anyone indeed is a passionate Panthers fan because moving a team is nothing to joke about, but where would you like to see the Panthers play instead of Florida. There are certainly options, but my preference is Quebec and then Hartford. While I know the Whalers will never come back without a new arena, the remarkable interest of a team that left almost 20 years ago is undeniable. Quebec has the benefit of a new arena opening next year and everything seems in their favor to become a leading candidate. Man, seeing that classic logo on a sky blue jersey come alive again would be awesome.

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Colgate Football

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 7, 2014

Andy Kerr Stadium.

It was a rainy morning as I left Syracuse and it looked like all the rain gear I brought with me would be put to use for the Colgate game. It took about an hour to get to Hamilton and though the drive was awkward having to use country roads, it did allow me to pass through some pleasant little towns like Cazenovia and Morrisville. Hamilton was similar as this tiny village of just 4,000 sported a main intersection at the center with very development on the outskirts. However, this primary meeting of roads represented a charming little downtown of brick buildings. The theatre and the college bookstore are most notable, while the white-painted Colgate Inn oozes history. Several places beckoned for an early bite to eat, but I chose 22 Utica Street Cafe. Trip Advisor reviews of this are spot on as the cafe looks like it should be good…but my roast beef ‘special’ wasn’t all that and I’m not a fan of a place that does not put prices on their menu. $15 for a sandwich, homemade chips and a drink seemed a bit much. The owner also gave a lot of phony ‘sweeties and honey’s’. It is still an acceptable spot to eat, but my shortness on time led me to change plans for a quicker bite to eat here after originally planning on eating at the Inn. Another good place is the Good Nature Farm Brewery and Tap Room. After walking through the farmers market at the nearby park, it was time for some Raiders football.

The rain thankfully stopped and the soggy grass lot had a handful of both Holy Cross and Colgate tailgaters before the game. It was an odd entrance into the stadium as to get to the main stands, both the ticket stand and those checking tickets can be found right near the parking lot entrance. I had an odd encounter walking past the gate without even realizing and went through without even knowing I was in a ticket designated area. A little strange. Anyway, the main home stands arches upward with all bleachers and the visitors side contains a set of bleachers with a small press box on top. The best part of the experience is that beautiful surrounding view as the vibrant hills in the area are lit up with color in October. It certainly is a pleasant setting for football. The crowd was held back likely because of the weather and the laid-back game day setting applies to the crowd too. The game was refreshing as it is so great to watch football without incessant media timeouts. Colgate went old school as they used ground and pound to perfection in the second half. First, the Crusaders jumped out to a 17-7 lead and a key point of the game was Colgate cashing in with just :04 left in the second quarter as Alex Greenawalt hauled in a 14 yard pass to cut the deficit. A huge interception late in the third quarter led to a 14 play drive that QB Jake Melville finished off with a 1-yard run and the Raiders had the lead 20-17. With Holy Cross driving again deep into opposing territory, Peter Pujals made is second huge pick of the game to keep the Crusaders off the board. Then Colgate finished off the clock with a remarkable 15 play, 7:35 drive that ran the clock out for a victory. Every one of those plays was a run and the Raiders had 55 total rushes for 224 yards. A little bit of light rain and colder temperatures in the second half did not hamper the event and it was an enjoyable game in a nice football setting best seen in October. Look for a full review in a few days, along with a write-up over at Stadium Journey.

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My Rise and Fall with Syracuse Athletics

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 5, 2014

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Carrier Dome
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Lawrence Moten, Donovan McNabb, John Wallace, Marvin Harrison, Otto the Orange. These are just a few of the guys that were a big part of my sporting life while following the Syracuse Orangemen an hour and a half away in my hometown of Rochester. It was my favorite team, up there with the Bills and Sabres and that passion continued as I went to school in Oswego and got to attend both football and basketball games at the Dome. The culmination was that magical night on April 7, 2003 when I screeched and ran around campus after Kirk Hinrich’s shot fell short and Jim Boeheim raised his hands up as the Orangemen won the National Championship.

After making a career-move to New Jersey and following the incredible sharpshooting of G-Mac, Syracuse Athletics slowly started to evolve just like other Big-Time Athletics in the NCAA. Growing more towards the Kyle Whelliston school of thought, these were small things at first that were just annoying: Branding themselves as “New York’s College Team”, advertising in Yankee Stadium, following the college football fad of having matte helmets with crazy, funky designs and changing uniform colors. Then came the bombshell…A-C-C. Along with Pittsburgh, they were one of the first on the East Coast to make a major league switch and the conference change was for that almighty Benjamin in addition to more exposure (as if they didn’t have enough). With my frustration for the Power 5 conferences growing, along with my deepening love for smaller schools playing in geographically sensical leagues, the Syracuse Orange part of my life was fading. In 2012-2013, I was having a hard time enjoying their games and in basketball season, found myself openly rooting for Montana in the first round of the tournament. Last year, I stopped following ‘Cuse cold turkey and didn’t miss it. Not even my friends back home knew about my disloyal jumping of ship. Ending a favorite sports team relationship is so rare (and out of my character), but I just could not stomach being a fake fan of a team/school. All of the new directions from the program rub me the wrong way and yeah, I miss the good ol’ days, but continuing to follow and root for the Orange wouldn’t be honest to myself.

All of this brings me to today, where I returned to the sight of so much sporting change in my life. Being back amongst the Orange faithful did make me do some reconsidering as I got caught up in the pageantry of game-day, however my visit and review of Syracuse football comes from a purely neutral perspective. I will say though, it did give me great enjoyment to buy a $30 face value ticket (not including exorbitant TicketMaster fees) for just $8.25 on StubHub. Take That! My day in the Salt City began around Noon and I started downtown in the trendy Clinton Square section. Syracuse’s roads are surprisingly bad and misleading as twice I had to detour. The first was on my arrival as the garage I needed was on a road being repaired. Once parked, I ate at Kitty Hoynes and though I didn’t have the Reuben Fritters that Guy Fieri sampled…I did go with a Reuben, which was just meh. The pub did make for a good place to catch the Orioles-Tigers Game 2 playoff game. After wandering the area on a beautifully warm October day, I stopped at the free Erie Canal Museum. It was surprisingly enjoyable that improved by the exhibit, highlighted by the replica Line Boat and the displays inside. I still remember the song Low Bridge that I needed to learn in the 4th Grade. I also made a stop at Destiny USA, a shopping mall whose plans to become the biggest in the US were often delayed and cancelled when I was in college. Well they finally followed through with some plans, just not to the grand scale that was foreseen in the early 2000s. The third floor features an entertainment section with go-cart racing, bowling, restaurants, kid adventures and a Dave & Busters along with some other stuff. It was dead on a Friday afternoon, but it looks like I found a pit stop in several years for future kids on our way to see family.

I made my way towards the Carrier Dome pretty early for picture purposes and that means taking a shuttle bus from the Skytop parking area. Given that it was a Friday, tailgating was limited and I was one of only a few people on the bus at 5 PM for a game starting at 7. If one is not familiar with the area, it can be a little confusing as the shuttle also acts as a regular college transportation system and the Dome is not visible from the drop-off point. Usually first-timers can just follow the crowd, but this was not the case just yet. I spent a little time around with the diverse campus and I always loved how the Dome is right in the middle of it. However, I can never get a decent exterior shot and the surrounding hillside exhausted my efforts to find a good shot. After passing through the revolving doors and feeling that suction of air, I made a couple passes around the generally dank concourses. There are pictures on the walls to help liven things up a bit and it wasn’t until the very end that I found a few display cases worth perusing. Food remarkably remains terrible with practically every stand selling the same worn options of Hoffman’s Sausage Subs or German Franks. The beer on the other hand is flowing with different options all over (keep in mind, this is a rare on-campus facility to offer beer). I still love the Carrier Dome as a football stadium with the seating being intimate and the design decent. While the bleachers may be uncomfortable, pretty much anywhere offers a fine sightline. They don’t call this place the Loud House for nothing and the enclosed Dome setting makes it roar. I’ve been to Wisconsin, Penn State and Notre Dame and when it comes noise, I think Syracuse is loudest with less than half of the fans. This ACC opener only featured a stadium about 3/5ths full, but it was still very noisy, especially as everyone got up on third downs. Just imagine if the program did get back to prominence. The game was a sloppy affair as both turnovers and penalties hurt the Orange. A bad play call gave Louisville a safety in the first half and then poor clock management by QB Terrel Hunt led to time running out at the end of the first half as Syracuse was one yard from the end zone. The second half was not much better as a wide-open Jarrod West dropped a gimme touchdown. Louisville added on more (including another safety) and they won 28-6 as the Dome was empty with a minute left in the game. It was a fun event as I met up with my college roommate and friends and we finished the night by tailgating after the game. Ah the good ol’ days.

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Upcoming Football Doubleheader

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 1, 2014

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This weekend represents the only football I will be able to see this Fall and the power of ESPN has set up a nice doubleheader in Central New York. Friday Evening, the Carrier Dome plays host to Syracuse against Louisville. This game will stir a lot of mixed emotions (to be explained in a future post) as it is the first time in nearly a decade that I return to the home of the Orange. Though the Dome is most known as a basketball facility, it is truly a football stadium and the review is geared towards Syracuse football. This is one of those places where I badly need digital quality pictures, so that’s the primary purpose of this re-visit as I try to complete getting back to all of my old stadium visits and replace with digital quality photos. I’ll be in Syracuse catching up with some friends and spending the day in the city before going to the 7 PM game.

The next day, Colgate plays Holy Cross at 1 PM and Hamilton, NY is just an hour to the east. The weather looks dicey with a period of showers or even steady rain for at least a few hours on Saturday. We’ll see if the timing works in my favor, but this rain may be in that morning to mid-afternoon timeframe, right during game time. I’ll be ready with a poncho, hoping for the best and some dry time. Anyway, this quaint and quiet section of Central NY should be great to visit with the changing leaves and this will be my 4th Patriot League football game. I love that conference and it will be a pleasure reviewing Andy Kerr Stadium for both here and Stadium Journey, while enjoying some Colgate football.

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2014 Football Stadiums Update

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 24, 2014

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The Green Wave return back to campus at Tulane’s brand new Yulman Stadium (Photo Credit – Stadium Journey)

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As the NFL tries to play God and almost forcibly attempt to get every team into a modern, sparking and expensive new stadium, there are several updates in the league this season. The biggest of course is out on the West Coast, where Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara replaces Candlestick in San Francisco. The Stick was a cold, windy, ugly dump and this certainly is a needed update as few will miss the old stadium. The commercialization cracks me up…check out the official “R” trademark on the Levi’s name at the stadium’s website. With a price tag over $1 billion there are some crazy technological features at The Field of Jeans. In Minneapolis, I am saddened to see the Metrodome deflated (I really loved that bubble) and the Vikings will spend two seasons at the University of Minnesota while their stadium is built. Several renovations took place that altered the seating capacity involving five teams. Jacksonville built the biggest scoreboard in the world, Cleveland finished Phase 1 of their plan, Philly teched up the Linc, Carolina made some pricey tweaks and additions, while Buffalo made a lot of changes in trying to keep the Ralph up-to-date (and yet at the same time continued ridiculous discussion on a media-fueled new stadium in the middle of a $100+ million renovation to the existing stadium!). Lastly, in Houston, Reliant is no longer the naming-rights sponsor as the Texans’ home is now called NRG Stadium.

On to the college game, where a lot has happened. Three new stadiums have been built, all in the deep south and the most notable likely is in Waco. McLane Stadium, new home to the Baylor Bears, has opened to rave reviews and this terrific facility sits right on campus along the Brazos River. In fact, “Sailgating” has become popular as many are taking boats up to the stadium. The new place is a departure from their neighborhood stadium located in the Beverley Hills section of Waco and it is undecided on what the fate of Floyd Casey Stadium will be. Also in the Lone Star State, is the new digs for the Houston Cougars as TDECU Stadium replaces old Robertson Stadium. In New Orleans, Tulane football has come back home! No longer will the Green Wave be playing in a cavernous, empty SuperDome, they instead will play in the intimate Yulman Stadium, which has been very well received thus far. Check out the Stadium Journey write-up on it as Lloyd Brown has already made it to a game with a full review.

There is a helluva a lot more than just new stadiums as renovations are plenty this year and I’ll go threw them with a one sentence blurb about each one…The Cincinnati Bearcats will spend a season in the city’s NFL stadium (Paul Brown) as Nippert Stadium is re-done…At UMass, the team finally returns to campus for games at a renovated McGuirk Stadium, but its only for 3 games (the other 3 are stupidly a couple hours away in Foxboro, where the school thinks the rest of the state actually cares about them)…Ohio Stadium is now the third-largest in the US as the Buckeys can play in front of an official 104,851 each Saturday….At Purdue, they are setting up future renovations at Ross-Ade Stadium by knocking out seating and replacing it with a temporary party deck (the scene will surely look different than Jacksonville’s)…A couple of Sun Belt teams saw expansion: Georgia Southern’s was made because of their move up to FBS, while Louisiana-Lafayette is going through a huge facilities upgrade campus-wide…Finally, the SEC, where holy crap do they have some money (not a ground-breaking statement). Four of their 14 teams had more seats added, particularly in the premium seating/club/suite department. Most notable is both LSU and Texas A&M as they will exceed the 100,000 mark with their latest renovations.

Stepping down a level to the FCS, things are much more tame. The only new stadium is at Houston Baptist University, where they also are just beginning their football program. The 5,000 seat Husky Stadium is too small to get on The List, but all the best to HBU as they begin life in the Southland. Elsewhere, a couple renovations changed the seating capacities on a pair of stadiums. Missouri State did a nice job improving their facility by bringing seats closer to the field, adding a party platform and enhancing the atmosphere with things like a bear statue. At Austin Peay, Governors Stadium actually lowered their capacity to just 7,000 as a renovation for luxury seating on the west grandstand led to the removal of many seats.   

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