Stadium and Arena Visits

Reviews and Photos of Arenas, Ballparks and Stadiums in the United States and Canada during Sporting Events

  • Archives

Potential FBS Road Trips for 2015 Opening Weekend

Posted by Sean Rowland on August 26, 2015

2015 FBS Opening Weekend Road Trips

Four potential college football road trips for the 2015 opening weekend (map from Google Maps)

 

Guess who’s back. Back Again. Football’s back. With Labor Day being as late as possible on September 7th, that means we have a later start to the 2015 season, so those that salivate months in advance at the first slate of games will have to wait a little longer. At the college football level, numerous home openers are played on a Thursday or Friday. This means good news for us road trippers! This year, the schedule makers have given us a slew of possibilities as all of the below trips are doable. Not only can we see 3 or 4 stadiums in a weekend, but the match-ups are decent too. There’s still time for somebody to make one of these happen, let’s take a look at the options (all times are local)…

.

.
1) Thu, Sep 3 at 7:00 PM  –  Oklahoma State at Central Michigan  –  Kelly-Shorts Stadium
….Fri, Sep 4 at 8:00 PM  –  Kent State at Illinois  –  Memorial Stadium
….Sat, Sep 5 at 11:00 AM  –  Stanford at Northwestern  –  Ryan Field
….Sat, Sep 5 at 6:30 PM  –  UNLV at Northern Illinois  –  Huskie Stadium
.

This is an extremely rare opportunity to check out four stadiums in three days as the MAC and Big Ten is showcased. Start out in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, where Kelly-Shorts Stadium should be packed as the Chippewas get a rare visit from a big time school as Oklahoma State visits. The ride to Champaign the next day is only 6 hours and that is plenty of time for a night game for the Illini. It’s then an early weekend wake-up call to get to Chicago for a TV friendly 11 AM kickoff in Evanston. The day finishes in the outer fringes of Chicagoland with UNLV and Northern Illinois. 

.

2)  Sat, Sep 5 at 7:30 PM  –  Georgia Southern at West Virginia  –  Milan Puskar Stadium
…..Sun, Sep 6 at 3:30 PM  –  Purdue at Marshall  –  Joan C. Edwards Stadium
…..Mon, Sep 7 at 8:00 PM  –  Ohio State at Virginia Tech  –  Lane Stadium
.

The Number 1 team in the nation visiting one of the loudest places in all of college football is reason enough to pick this trip. But building up to the Monday main event, there are a couple of appetizers worthwhile. Gameday at Mountaineer Field is quite an event, while goosebumps are likely during the inspiring “We Are Marshall” chant. Plus, much of this trip involves driving around and thru the state of West Virginia. This is beautiful country and the gorgeous terrain will make you say “ahhh” as the scenery is quite peaceful.  

.

3)  Thu, Sep 3 at 6:30 PM  –  Michigan at Utah  –  Rice-Eccles Stadium
…..Fri, Sep 4 at 8:15 PM  –  Washington at Boise State  –  Albertson Stadium
…..Sat, Sep 5 at 5:00 PM  –  Eastern Michigan at Oregon  –  Autzen Stadium
.

It’s not easy driving around the spaced out Mountain and Pacific Time Zone, but this trip involves doable separate rides of 5 and 8 hours. Three unique cities should entice visitors along with the actual event as the trip begins in Salt Lake, where the mountains tower over the stadium. Plus it’s a great game to attend too as Miiichigan and Harbaugh come to visit the Utes. The Smurf Turf at Boise is next, where the place should be pumped for a visit from a Pac-10 opponent. Then, travel across the varying terrain in Oregon for a visit to funky Eugene and the remarkable Autzen Stadium. 

.

4) Thu, Sep 3 at 8:30 PM  –  Duke at Tulane  –  Yulman Stadium
…..Fri, Sep 4 at 6:00 PM  –  Baylor at SMU  –  Gerald J. Ford Stadium
…..Sat, Sep 5 at 6:00 PM –  Arizona State at Texas A&M  –  Kyle Field
.

The theme with this trip is new, as it begins in New Orleans, where the Green Wave host the newly good Duke Blue Devils. Tulane plays in a new stadium that opened to rave reviews a few years ago. Friday’s game is in Dallas, where things are relatively new as SMU plays in the 15-year old Gerald Ford Stadium. The matchup is enticing too with Baylor coming to town. Finally, it’s on to the home of the 12th Man in College Station. Though Kyle Field was built in 1927, a new renovation completed for this season will push capacity to 102,512. Hard to imagine something louder than this

 

Posted in Football | Leave a Comment »

Ranking the Maryland Ballparks

Posted by Sean Rowland on August 20, 2015

Camden Yards Interior

.
With the trip completed to Southern Maryland a few weeks ago, I’ve now made a visit to every Maryland team that plays professional baseball. I found that it is a state heavily influenced by the Orioles, which makes sense given the popularity of both the team and ballpark. As you would expect, Camden Yards ranks at the top of the list (in fact, it is the highest rated stadium out of the 162 I’ve been to). Let’s take a look at how the rest of the Old Line State shakes out:

.
1)  Camden Yards  –  Baltimore Orioles  –  Ranking: 89.0

Often copied, never replicated. Just a magnificent place that still holds the test of time. Loved everything here and the O’s resurgence the last few years means that Camden did not suffer in the atmosphere rating.

.
2)  Nationals Park  –  Washington Nationals  –  Ranking: 73.5

This is such an underrated ballpark in MLB that doesn’t get enough mention. The use of steel, pre-cast concrete and glass give it a more modern look and the coloring fits in with some of the monuments and office buildings seen across DC. The team has gained a great following given their short history and intrusion into Orioles country. Loved the Presidents Race as each one has a unique comedic spin.

.
3)  Arthur W. Perdue Stadium  –  Delmarva Shorebirds  –  Ranking: 65.0

Maryland’s minor league ballparks aren’t all that spectacular (save for the one in Waldorf), but what pushes Perdue Stadium above the rest is their terrific Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame. I could’ve spent an hour in here and really enjoyed this unexpected feature.

.
4)  Ripken Stadium  –  Aberdeen Ironbirds  –  Ranking: 63.0

If you want to see what will become known as the cookie-cutter Minor League Ballpark, come to Ripken Stadium. It’s a fine place, but maybe I was down on it because by the time I got here in 2013, I’ve seen so many of these designs. One highlight…the food. Check out the menu at Conrad’s Crab and Seafood Deck

.
5)  Regency Furniture Stadium  –  Southern Maryland Blue Crabs  –  Ranking: 62.5

The design here is awesome. In fact, out of the 52 minor-league ballparks I’ve seen, the interior set-up ranked 4th. So why the mid-level ranking? The location is not great, the food is eh and that darn Tie-Dye Guy kept getting in my way.

.
6)  Harry Grove Stadium  –  Frederick Keys  –  Ranking: 56.5

I found Northwest Maryland to be an enjoyable place for a weekend with such a rich display of history. Harry Grove is an ok place, but I recommend it as an excuse to visit Frederick. Charming is such an apt description for a terrific downtown that includes a riverwalk and a plethora of decent restaurants to eat at.

.
7)  Municipal Stadium  –  Hagerstown Suns  –  Ranking: 50.5

I wanted so badly to like Municipal Stadium as I adore the older ballparks and want to see them continue to live and thrive. But, it just struck me as cheap and in need of TLC. While I love an old-school baseball atmosphere, it seemed like it was done here because they’ve given up on Hagerstown and want to be somewhere else. A shame.

.
8)  Prince George’s Stadium  –  Bowie BaySox  –  Ranking: 48.5

Blah, everything about the BaySox game turned me off. From the moment I walked up to the ballpark (which looks like an old Wegmans), I could tell there wasn’t much to like about this place. An attendance of about 37 people on a perfect early Summer night didn’t help.

.

Posted in Ballparks | Leave a Comment »

The Citi Open and the Blue Crabs

Posted by Sean Rowland on August 11, 2015

Rock Creek Park Tennis Center Exterior

.

Seeing a new sport live for the first time is quite exciting and since there are not many left I haven’t seen, this made my first tennis visit even better. I left Jersey around 8:30 AM and with my Dad having the same great planning and timing sense as me, we met within a minute of each other in Gettysburg (he departed from Rochester, NY). After a small and rather terrible lunch (really snack) at the Gettysburg Visitors Center cafe, we then went into the Visitors Center, which was exponentially better. It’s relatively new and the museum does a great job not only depicting the horrific battle, but also the Civil War times before and after battle. Even if you can’t see the rest of the town or battlefields, stopping at the Visitors Center for a few hours is a must-do.

We then drove an hour to Gaithersburg, MD, where we set up shop for the weekend. I researched for a while the best stop and this was ideal for the simple access to the hotel and easy drive to the large parking at the Metro Station in Shady Grove. Speaking of DC’s subway system, the Metro is awesome as a visitor. It’s easy to follow and the stations are straight-forward as they are mostly underground in that brutalist arcing cylinder. Everything is clearly marked as we had no problem all weekend finding our route and following the right line and direction. Plus the SmarTrip payment method is simple. For the Citi Open, we took the Red Line from Shady Grove to Van Ness and after a little looking around, found the 20-seat shuttle bus to Rock Creek Tennis Center. The District’s biggest park has been home to this ATP event since 1969 and we were there for the Quarterfinals. We entered into the grounds where merchandise tents led to a crowded pseudo food court, which featured expensive items, highlighted by a Thai stand (give me Paradorn Srichaphan, one time!). Centering the surrounding outer courts is the Main Stadium, which I still can’t figure out its official name. The facility is older, but the intimacy makes for great views all around. Unfortunately, it’s bleacher seating in the upper level, while the “box seats” down below surprisingly feature temporary folding chairs. For the match, it was John Isner against Ricardas Berankis. Congrats to the Lithuanian for making the Quarters, but I was really hoping to see Andy Murray in his spot. Regardless, this one at least went three sets as it looked like the Big Man was going to dominate after taking 28 minutes to win the first set. Berankis got an unexpected break to win the second, 7-5 and then the best part of the match was Isner’s immediate break back in the third. He went on to win 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. Though I’m not a fan of big serve, short rally  tennis, I very much like Isner and have followed his career closely. He is a genuine, nice, humble person that I wish the best. Look for much more details in the stadium review of the Citi Open later in the week.
.

Georgetown

The Georgetown Waterfront in DC

.

Saturday was all about touring DC and though I’ve been at the National Mall twice, it was during my grade-school days when I didn’t have the appreciation I do now. The weather was great…85 degrees with relatively low humidity on a DC August day is a gift. We hopped on the Metro again and the free parking at Shady Grove made that the right choice as we used the Red Line to reach Metro Center and then hopped on the Orange for the Smithsonian. After gasping at the torn-up lawn and our tainted Monument/Capitol views, we checked out the original Smithsonian building in what is essentially a castle. Then it was over to the packed Natural History Museum. Pretty cool, but it’s such a broad overview of everything that I prefer more specific museums that go more in depth into a subject. Still some great stuff in here with the big ticket item being the Hope Diamond. We had a great lunch at the cafe next door and then we walked over to the Air & Space Museum. However, the line to get in was so long that we changed plans and went back to where we started, in front of the National Archives. This stuff interested both of us and we couldn’t go wrong, so we spent the rest of the afternoon here and it was well worth it. It’s more than just historical documents as the displays are quite varied and well done. From there, we went to Georgetown, which is not just the University. This neighborhood is a former city that actually is older than Washington. It’s an up-class section loaded with shops, bars and restaurants along M Street. Tree-lined streets frame the hilly sections to the north and the Georgetown campus has a few impressive photo-ops. Then there is the Waterfront along the Potomac River which has turned from industrial dredge when my Dad was there in the 70s, to a bustling park. We had dinner right on M Street at Clyde’s and the Tuscan Sausage Ravioli was superb. To get back to the hotel in Gaithersburg, we hopped on the DC Circulator bus to the DuPont Circle, which led to the Red Metro to Shady Grove. We probably walked 5-10 miles on the day, but DC is such an incredible city (that many in the East Coast take for granted) and there is soooo much to see. I was glad to spend it with my Dad and take in as much as we could.

The nice weather continued Sunday as we headed our separate ways with my car pointed Southeast. The destination was a section of the state that is quite rural and different from the 95 corridor…Charles County in Southern Maryland, more specifically Waldorf. That’s the home of the Blue Crabs from the Atlantic League, at least Waldorf is the stated city as if you look at the map, getting a true ballpark location is a challenge. There’s not much in this area, but I did see the historical home of Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor who unknowingly fixed the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth, just hours after assassinating Abraham Lincoln. The story is fascinating and the scene on this country farmland makes it so easy to visualize what happened 150 years ago. This is such a terrific stop as the non-profit volunteers who run the tours are delightful. This is a part of sports travel that I did not expect when starting out, but have fallen in love with. Getting to stadiums brings you to parts of this great country you wouldn’t normally go and there are always surprises at each stop.
.

Regency Furniture Stadium Interior

.
The town of Waldorf is not exactly historic however as the center is a six-lane road that is a national chain store paradise. Go ahead, think of a big-box retailer or a nationalized restaurant and I bet it is in one of the side strip malls lining this road. Not my cup of tea, but it serves this booming area 30 miles southeast of DC. Housing is exploding in the area and that is evident on the drive to Regency Furniture Stadium. The vast parking lot in front of the park leads to a refreshingly different exterior design, which actually resembles a house with its beige siding and red panel roof. Given that this is the Atlantic League and their ballparks are so darn similar, I was expecting more of the same. Instead, I was blown away by such a terrific set-up. Check it out in the picture above as I love how the seats turn inward towards home plate (though you better watch every pitch). I even like the partially enclosed concourse behind home plate as it is not necessary to have the walkway 100% open to the field. The Blue Crabs have a great thing going on with an excellent park, though other aspects could be a little better, like the underwhelming food selection. Also, as unpopular an opinion this may be, I found the on-field MC Ron Lord (the tye-dye guy) to be incredibly annoying. He constantly was getting in the way of watching the game, whether it was standing on the dugout during action or his interrupting comments, I moved seats a few times just to get away. Even while the Blue Crabs were in a decisive moment in the 10th inning, he was loudly spewing some non-sense unrelated to the game. From a neutral perspective, his interactions with the fans were awkward too. While he drove me nuts, I was certainly in the minority as the crowd loved him. As for the game, it was a battle of blue ocean creatures as the Bridgeport Bluefish took on the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. The visitors built a 3-0 lead, but to the delight of the home fans, a Gustavo Molina blast tied the game in the 6th inning. Despite only six runs scored, the game past the 3 hour mark before going to extra innings (note to baseball at all levels: you need to fix 9-inning games that go longer than 3 hours!). We went to the 10th, where a Bridgeport run was answered by Southern Maryland in the bottom half. Casey Frawley was inches from winning the game, but his long shot hit the top of the wall and only one run scored. The Bluefish finally put the game away in the 11th and won 5-4. The trip home was thankfully pleasant as I took a route that avoided all traffic and tolls, getting back to NW NJ in less than five hours. Look for official reviews on the right-side of the page by next week.

.

Posted in Trips | Leave a Comment »

DC Trip

Posted by Sean Rowland on August 3, 2015

augtrip

 

I absolutely love tennis and sorely miss my playing days that go back way too long for me to count years. Fortunately, the sport has been fascinating at the professional level for the last decade as the top tier on the Men’s side is full of high drama and memorable matches. The downside is that only the Semifinals and Finals of events (particularly the majors) garner attention as the Big Four beat up the rest of the field. That has changed the last few years as we’ve seen guys like Wawrinka, Nishikori, Berdych and Cilic make things interesting. I’m all for this as long as the newest crop (Kyrgios, Raonic, Tomic) doesn’t join and revert the sport back to the boring 90’s when it was nothing but 3 rally points by big servers. 

Anyway, I have yet to attend a tennis event, despite the US Open being a two-hour drive away for me over the last nine years. With the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center undergoing a massive renovation not to be completed until 2018, I started thinking about making my way to the smaller events, working my way up to New York. Within driving distance there is New Haven, DC and even the Masters events are doable in Montreal, Toronto and Cincinnati. This year, I’ve focused on the Citi Open and I will be in the Nation’s Capital this Friday as the tournament reaches the Quarterfinal stage. I’ll be at the evening session and reviewing the Rock Creek Tennis Center, a 7,500-seat stadium. This will be different as it is my first non-team event that gets reviewed (not too mention a new sport). The Women are also playing the event, but their field is quite weak and I really hope that the two matches in the Friday evening session in the main stadium are on the Men’s side. I’ll certainly be following the progression thru the week as Murray, Nishikori, Cilic, Dmitrov and Isner are in the draw.

Joining me on this journey will be my Dad, who recently retired and is enjoying a very much deserved summer. He hasn’t been to DC since the 70s and is itching to return for a visit to this remarkable city. He’ll be leaving from Rochester, NY early Friday Morning and we’ll meet up in Gaithersburg before convening at the tennis tournament. Saturday is reserved for sightseeing as we’ve scoped out some Smithsonian Museums and then we’ll finish the day checking out the cool neighborhood of Georgetown. Dad will head home Sunday morning while I make the short trip southeastward to tiny Waldorf, MD. That is where I’ll visit Regency Furniture Stadium for an Atlantic League matinee between the Southern Maryland Blue Claws and the Bridgeport Bluefish. Back next week with a recap!

.

Posted in Visit Plans | Leave a Comment »

Stadiums and Arenas Map

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 27, 2015

.
Finally, after a few years of sporadic work, I completed getting markers for all of the arenas, ballparks and stadiums from
 The List on to Google Maps. In the beginning of this hobby all the way back in the early 2000s, to geographically see the venues on The List, I used Microsoft Streets & Trips, because frankly Mapquest sucked (and still does). I put a pushpin on all the cities that had a facility and this was a great tool to not only see where I had been, but also to make trip plans. I still use this program (a version from 2010, which I hope survives on future computers) as it helps immensely.

But this did not resonate online well and even though, I put screenshots of the maps online, it was a pain and not practical to update. So, very slowly, I built a Google Map with each of the 1300+ arenas, ballparks and stadiums marked. The cool thing is the satellite feature allowing me to put the marker exactly where the facility is (and with a nice overhead shot to boot). Red markers indicate that I have yet to make an official visit to that facility, while the Green ones are for those that I have visited. Blame Google for not being able to sort the markers in each category alphabetically. Extremely frustrating as I’m able to see and do that on the creator’s end, but not as a visitor. It’s also irritating how one can not properly set the default view (satellite and an appropriate zoom). Despite these drawbacks, the map came out pretty well as I’ll be keeping it up to date and using it as a planning guide along with still holding on to old-school methods. Check out the map above (click the brackets in the upper right to enlarge) or go to: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zhu3olRqLfQI.kWEuQjCl4q98

.

.

Posted in Other | Leave a Comment »

Back at Sahlen’s Stadium

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 20, 2015

Sahlens Interior

.

In prior posts, I’ve talked about the plight of the Rochester Rhinos soccer team, so I won’t do that here. However, I will highly recommend an excellent piece by Empire of Soccer on The Rise and Fall of the Rochester Rhinos. Very well done. I’m back in Upstate New York for an extended weekend with the family and last Saturday went to check out USL action as the Rhinos took on Charlotte at a muggy Sahlen’s Stadium. I would say there were about 3,000 on hand for the game, which is still decent for the third division, but the crowd looks small in the 13,768 seat stadium. It was good to see more die-hard supporters on hand as the Oak Street Brigade had about 30 people to stand, chant, sing and cheer all game. There’s also the Flower City Stampede at the other end, but with maybe 8 of that group and competing songs, it’s definitely for the best if they just headed over to Section 101 and join the Brigade. The crowd did the “Rochester”…”Rhinos” chant and they got on the refs during this game. It’s a good game atmosphere, I just wish the team would stop making it so minor-league Americana. There’s music played during each throw-in/corner kick, there’s t-shirt tosses, mascots, cheerleaders. This is soccer people! While I know the Rhinos have one of the best crowds/overall atmosphere’s in the USL, it’s so hard for me to judge it fairly when I’ve been to countless games in the 90s where the place was wild. As for the match, the first half was lackluster, while the Rhinos were the much better team in the second half. They pushed Charlotte and had a few chances (including a disallowed goal), but in the end, the final was a disappointing 0-0 draw.

Sahlen’s Stadium has a great design that is intimate and the upper-deck on the north side of the stadium features an awesome overhead view to go along with the city skyline in the background. However, the main issue with the stadium is the lack of care. The scoreboard is an embarrassing eyesore with handfuls of missing and distorted panels. Meanwhile, the concourses and walkways have so much blank space. Nowhere is there acknowledgment of the team’s four championships in their early years. Or even a mention of the old Lancers back in the NASL. Rochester native Abby Wambach just gets the walkway named after her and nothing else on the city’s biggest stars. Only small plaques for the team’s hall of fame sit on one wall. There could be so much done to liven up the place. For the game, we parked at the parking lot near Frontier Field, where the Red Wings were playing. That walk from Frontier to Sahlen’s is not long, but the change in scenery and overall feel is drastic as one goes from the enjoyable success of nearly 20 year old Frontier to a great pitch, but flawed stadium at Sahlen’s that is marked with sadness by what could have been.

.

Posted in Visits | Leave a Comment »

A Ride on the Rails

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 14, 2015

0712151442

.
Out of the 51 minor league ballparks I have visited, MCU Park in Brooklyn is rated the best. Given this distinction, I felt I owed it to the other ballparks (silly, I know) to truly make sure it is the best since my last visit came in the earlier years of this stadium chasing project. My first experience in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn was indeed awesome, except the whole getting there part. Driving in this madhouse was not good times and looking at the NYPL schedule, a Sunday game would work the best, which coincides with jammed beaches. So mass transit was the alternative and it meant an experience on three train/subway services. I’ve been around NYC several times, so while none of this travel was new, it still is a bit unnerving for me given my bloodlines not being from the area.

On Saturday, our family drove out to Long Island for a surprise retirement party thrown for my wife’s uncle. On the way, I left my car at the Denville NJ Transit station for the end of my journey. While my wife took the car back home Sunday, I got on the LIRR at Farmingdale, where the 30 minute train ride would stop at the transfer station in Jamaica. I’ve always heard “Never change in Jamaica” and been perplexed by that since that is where most commuters need to change if going to other places that their train does not offer. The process seemed simple enough and the TV screen showed Track 2 as the spot for the train to Brooklyn’s Atlantic Station. Fail. Turned out to be on Track 1 and only when I saw a few other people confused and scrambling to the other side did I realize their error. Once I made it to Brooklyn, it was off to the subway, where I managed to find vending machines only accepting EXACT change, so there’s now some extra cash on my Metro card that will linger for awhile. It was simple enough to find the D train that went to Coney Island (following people in beach gear added extra peace of mind). However, this subway took forever as construction on the N line meant that it was picking up those stops too and it was taking long enough that I asked someone on the train if this does indeed go to Coney Island.

It did and I stepped out into a refreshing ocean breeze that felt so nice compared to the heat that was baking inland. Hoards of people swarmed Surf Ave and though the chaos of the area is overwhelming, it is remarkable to take in all of the famous sites. Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Luna Park, The Cyclone, Boardwalk Games, The Beach and The Ocean. It’s hard to believe that Hurricane Sandy devastated this area just three years ago and seeing the resurgence is inspiring. In fact, Luna Park and its famous rides were in jeopardy of closing even before the storm hit and it makes the successful turnaround even more remarkable.
.

MCU Park Interior

.
Within this whole area is the terrific MCU Park, home of the single-A Cyclones and I don’t think there could be a better location for a minor-league baseball park. The place indeed remains a top ballpark and it starts with the way Brooklyn treats baseball. Respectful displays include the Jackie Robinson/Pee-Wee Reese statue on the outside and the Wall of Remembrance on the side of the ballpark. Inside, the stadium fits it’s surroundings perfectly with neon lighting, a boardwalk to the outfield seats and concession stands looking like the ones just beyond on the beach. The ballpark design incorporates all of the great outfield background and while baseball may seem like a sideshow to everything else going on, the fans are more intuitive than many other places. There was bit of a dropoff in atmosphere and crowd size compared to the last game I saw here, but those aspects are still decent. As for the game, the Cyclones dropped this one to Aberdeen 9-3, their first home loss in their last seven games (my 2015 ugliness continues for home teams). My journey home began with a 50 minute subway ride on the F train back to Penn Station and then the long route on NJ Transit back to Denville, where I took advantage of the free overnight parking. While it may be a pain to get to MCU Park, all of the other awesome intangibles make it a destination ballpark.

.

Posted in Visits | Leave a Comment »

Musings

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 8, 2015

US Soccer

Yes, Soccer fandom is certainly growing nicely in the US, however let’s stop equating World Cup viewing eyeballs to the sport becoming “mainstream”

.

– The Women’s World Cup pulled in some decent TV ratings, specifically the final, which garnered the highest viewing audience for a soccer match ever in the USA. With this news, the accompanying articles came flying in this week, talking about the growth of the game and how it is becoming mainstream. These stories come out after EVERY World Cup and the approximate number of eyeballs watching (and most of the public does not realize how much insane guesswork goes into these so-called Ratings) does not equate to the “growth” of the game. The majority of these people that watch US soccer get caught up in the patriotism as we Americans love getting behind the U-S-A, no matter the event. Take an informal poll of people that you know watched the women’s game and see how many genuinely have or will become fans of domestic or international soccer? A better question would be to those people that did watch the women, how many knew about Copa America going on around the same time, arguably the 3rd biggest soccer tournament in the world. While I do absolutely love our patriotism, comradery, passion and youthful energy for these events, let’s hold on the seemingly annual discussion of how the game is exploding in popularity because people watch a World Cup. We can safely say that the soccer momentum is gradually building (see the American Outlaws and the MLS Supporter Groups) and it’s been a thrill to both be a part of it and watch it over the last decade, but it will be awhile until the overall game is “mainstream”.
.

– What’s the deal with tennis players touching each other now at there post-match handshake at the net. Does anyone else notice that instead of just shaking hands, male tennis players have a relatively new tendency to gently touch the opponent’s stomach, chest, or my new favorite, the cheek (see Jo-Wilfried Tsonga during the early Wimbledon rounds). I’m not opposed, but it’s a little weird and why is this now the hip thing?
.

– Does anyone else get annoyed with the sports ticker at the bottom of the screen during events on ESPN, Fox, etc. NBC Sports Network at least does it right by not using it during events. I find the use of a ticker incredibly distracting when watching event and wish we would get away from this during games. I feel like in this day and age with smartphones, fans can get the info they want pretty quickly instead of seeing the gibberish at the bottom that has 75% useless “news” or scores. Good news are decent trends as the 24 hour sports networks have stopped using the bottom ticker during bigger sporting events.
.

– Less than 60 days until Football is back….Yes! Yes! Yes! 

.

Posted in Other | Leave a Comment »

June 2015 Stadium of the Month – Pensacola Bayfront Stadium

Posted by Sean Rowland on June 29, 2015

pensacola

Pensacola Bayfront Stadium (image from Stadium Journey)

.
It’s summer…so let’s go to the beach for this one. Pensacola, Florida absolutely nailed their new ballpark in 2012 as they took over the AA Carolina Mudcats. The ballpark in Zebulon, NC still retained baseball in the much more appropriate Carolina League, while Pensacola became an ideal spot for a relocated Southern League franchise. The beautifully nicknamed Blue Wahoos became the city’s team as they took up residence in a spectacular new park along the bayfront. It took awhile for a name to settle, but Pensacola Bayfront Stadium works quite well. The accolades have poured in and the ballpark is #2 in the most recent Stadium Journey MiLB Ballpark Rankings.

The first and most obvious thing to love about this ballpark is the location. Sitting in the stands and looking out at a beautifully manicured baseball field with a body of water beyond the fence and a pleasant ocean breeze is sublime. Though there is no nearby beach, the surrounding greenspace is wonderful and downtown is great for a walkthrough with plenty of places for a pre or post game stop. The architecture of the stadium is designed to reflect Pensacola’s unique buildings and though I’m not a huge fan of the seating bowl (see New Hampshire and Hillsboro for my disdain of this design), I can live with it given the other great features of the ballpark. Food options are impressive and fans continue to stream thru the gates. There are a lot of new parks that have opened across the Southern League and though the bar is set high, Pensacola really stands out as a place to check out.  

.

 

Posted in Stadium of the Month | Leave a Comment »

The Summer Baseball Leagues Update – 2015

Posted by Sean Rowland on June 22, 2015

Muzzy Field 2

Hello Muzzy Field! On your 100th birthday, we welcome you and the Bristol Blues to The List

.
June updates to The List focus on the short-season leagues, including Summer-Collegiate baseball, where those looking for quaint purity can enjoy America’s pastime. Let’s start in New England and one of the more successful circuits, the Futures League. I wrote about the remarkable success and rebirth of The Ballpark at Old Orchard Beach last year, however things have sadly gone downhill over the past several months. The owners of the Raging Tide couldn’t keep going and they tried to sell the team to someone in the local community, but there were no takers. The team was sold and moved to Bristol, CT (more on that later) and all that great work at The Ballpark seemed short lived. However, a team would return to this summer community in the form of the new, independent East Coast Baseball League. That lasted all of one month as mis-management led to the ECBL’s quick demise. There were teams ready to go and rather than see hard work and ready players go to waste, a hastily put together North Country Baseball League was formed, involving four of the ECBL franchises, including OOB. With the person running the NCBL also in charge of “Cheeburger, Cheeburger“, it’s hard to see the NCBL stay alive. But all the best to them and I hope this is not the sad end to a true success story in Maine.

OK, where were we? Oh yeah, the Futures League. So the arrival of the Bristol Blues is awesome! That means that Muzzy Field will be hosting games and this 4,900 seat relic is turning 100 years old this summer. On a trip to New Britain in 2013, I stopped to take a look at Muzzy and am thrilled to see a professional team play here. In the Coastal Plain League, we have a couple teams not on The List, but worth mentioning. With Columbia’s Capital City Stadium now gone, nearby Lexington County has become home of the Bluefish and they opened a baseball stadium last month that looks very nice. Also starting play in 2015 are the Holly Springs Salamanders, who have moved into the 1500-seat North Main Athletic Complex. Despite the college field sounding name, it’s also a nice place. There is also a new ballpark in the Prospect League, where the Kokomo Jackrabbits will play. Despite numerous issues at the stadium site, it’s amazing this stadium opened up to baseball after so much controversy (which is still ongoing).

Finally, in affiliated ball we have one change. The New York-Penn League continues to cheat on its name and the Jamestown Jammers have moved to Morgantown, WV. With a classy logo, the West Virginia Black Bears will begin play at Monongalia County Ballpark. It’s neatly built into a hillside with 2,500 fixed seats and more on the berms. The ballpark is actually in Granville, just across the river from Morgantown, and yes, it is the new home for West Virginia University. This is a trend I am disliking as I prefer college baseball to be separated from cities hosting professional baseball. I understand all the reasons why this happens, but am not a fan. Russell Diethrick Park will still live as the Jammers have turned up in the Prospect League, replacing Lorain County. 

.

Posted in General Stadia | Leave a Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.