Stadium and Arena Visits

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Stadiums List Updates

Posted by Sean Rowland on April 13, 2014

The trend to head downtown continues as the beautiful Charlotte skyline towers over new BB&T Ballpark (image from The State)

The trend to head downtown continues as the beautiful Charlotte skyline towers over new BB&T Ballpark (image from The State)

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As much of the country gets back into warm weather (briefly), many including myself will get the itch to watch sports outside. This month, baseball gets going. Triple-A features a pair of new ballparks, one of them much awaited in Charlotte. After playing in another state for a few decades, the Knights come back to the Queen City and into a beautiful ballpark that is highlighted by an impressive skyline view in the outfield. While the stadium name follows an annoying trend of banks putting their stamp on multiple facilities, Charlotte’s new home looks to rank as a top destination for ballpark aficionados. In the PCL, the failed suburban San Diego ballpark in Escondido resulted in the Tucson franchise staying put an extra year until El Paso ended up getting a new ballpark and thus the team. That team will be known as the Chihuahuas, but will remain in Tucson for one more series as Southwest University Park is not ready yet (this is what happens when you rush it and try to get a project done in less than a year). El Paso will spend much of April on the road, along with playing a home set at Kino Memorial Stadium. After that, however, Kino is off The List.

In other baseball news, kudos to the West Michigan Whitecaps, where they were able to get their ballpark back open after a fire destroyed part of First Third Ballpark in the winter. In MLB, Detroit, Tampa Bay and Colorado unveiled some improvements, with the latter adding a great spot in upper right-field with The Rooftop. They had seats to give up with an over 50,000 seat capacity, so utilizing this space works quite well. Dodger Stadium improvements continue and Wrigley Field celebrates its 100th birthday as their seems to be no end in the Ricketts-Wrigleyville fight.

Soccer also returns and while MLS continues to hand franchises out like cookies, it is quiet this season with no expansion or new stadiums. Down a level to the NASL, the Indy Eleven started with a sold-out crowd in Carroll Stadium, on the campus of IUPUI. The other new team this year is in Ottawa, where the Fury will share the renovated TD Place Stadium with the Redblacks, who return to the CFL this summer. Four teams will be new to the USL-Pro this season, however, none of them make The List for right now. I say right now, because the Sacramento Republic are planning an 8,000 seat stadium in the Cal Expo. That won’t be completed until June and I would rather see them play a game there first before adding it. In the meantime, games will be played in Hughes Stadium, on the campus of Sacramento City College. Other new teams are Arizona, Oklahoma City and Orange County, while VSI Tampa and Phoenix have folded.

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Hockey Night in Elmira

Posted by Sean Rowland on April 5, 2014

First Arena Interior
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In a growing effort to re-visit stadiums that have non-digital pictures in the old film form, I made the three-hour drive to Elmira last night for a Jackals game at First Arena. It drives me nuts just to have a few old pictures of poor clarity at the first 20 or so facilities I visited, so in spite of the short trip (6 hours in the car, just over 3 in Elmira), the itch to update the old “Coach USA Center” pictures was one that needed to be scratched and off I went after work.  Elmira is a small city in the Southern Tier of New York that fits the mold of a place that has parts of it stuck in the 1970s. It is one of the homes to Mark Twain and coming down Church Street, the city does a nice job in displaying attractions via signs, for those that are intrigued with the first World’s Most Interesting Man.

This game was just an in/out job for me, so I got downtown around 6 PM and was quite thankful that I got exterior photos on the way to a trip back in November. The cold drizzle this Friday Night would have meant some bad pictures. Inside, the Splitrock Brew Pub is a great little place to start the evening as many fans had dinner there first and enjoyed some solo guitar by a guy who looked a little like Charlie Daniels. I got there too late for dinner thanks to wasting time before a lost ipod mishap before leaving, opting instead to take all my pictures and then grab a sloppily made roast beef sandwich, the only ‘unique’ item in an otherwise blah assortment of concessions. The concourse is what you would expect for a 3784-seat arena and it goes around 3/4ths of the arena. Inside, is an intimate facility that is decked out in light purple (seats, piping, etc.). I don’t mind and actually like the change-up in color scheme, but it does look odd now that the team colors are red and blue.

Elmira joined the ECHL in 2007 after the UHL folded and each season has posted a winning record. Though they have failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs. This year is their first near the league’s basement and the team came in on an 11-game losing streak. That may have dampened the crowd as only about 1500-2000 were there for the second to last home game of the year. Similar to what I experienced in Binghamton a few years back, the atmosphere was significantly less enthusiastic than my first visit and while there appears to be a nice little dedicated fanbase (lots of Jackal jerseys in the crowd), First Arena lacked any juice. This was especially evident when the crowd failed to acknowledge any portion of a game that Elmira dominated to break their near month-long losing streak. I certainly understand a lack of atmosphere for a losing team at the end of a season, but a hockey-savvy crowd would provide more than just after goal cheers when that team jumps out to a 4-0 lead. Elmira certainly gave it to Orlando and while Maxime Clermont was more than a little shaky in net, the Jackals did well to bury their last couple chances. The Solar Bears were sleepwalking through this game until the 3rd period when it was too late. Kudos to Elmira for getting the win and that means a perfect 4-0 for the home teams I have seen so far this year. It was great to be back at First Arena, which is a nice facility and a great representation of hockey in a small city. The review on the right will be updated soon and also check out the review up at Stadium Journey, where they just made a visit a few weeks ago.

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Mar 2014 Stadium of the Month: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum

Posted by Sean Rowland on March 30, 2014

Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, home of Fort Wayne Komets Hockey (Photo Credit - Stadium Journey and Marc Viquez)

Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, home of Fort Wayne Komets Hockey (Photo Credit - Stadium Journey and Marc Viquez)

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Maybe I need to re-think the title of these Stadium of the Month posts as a five word arena makes for quite the jumbled headline. The city of Fort Wayne, Indiana is a hidden attraction for stadium aficionados. Consistently ranking as one of the best minor-league ballparks in the country, the five-year old Parkview Field is the template on how to revitalize a downtown section of a city with a ballpark. While the new is done in spectacular fashion for baseball, Fort Wayne’s other minor league team plays at a facility that showcases the old.

Though the northern neighborhood is not as ideal as Parkview, the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum has a little bit of old-time hockey feel with a facility that certainly stands out against today’s often duplicated new minor-league, mid-city designs here on the East Coast (see Reading, Trenton and Bridgeport). Built in 1952, the arena has recently been majorly renovated, yet still retains some of the character in an older building. While the seating design and set-up isn’t all that charming (a 600 level!), it is the fans that make this old barn worth a visit. The Komets have been around for a long time and after many years in the IHL, they had to work their way back up the food chain after that top minor-league folded. Now in the ECHL, the team draws exceptionally well and are the very rare minor-league exception that sees their attendance rise during the playoffs. Fans get the place rocking and make this an arena to see. The best time to make a trip to Northeast Indiana might be in May, where you can combine a Komets Playoff game with a visit to Parkview Field.

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Stadium List Updates for March

Posted by Sean Rowland on March 24, 2014

Indoor Football

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This month features a hodgepodge of updates with various leagues resuming. Most of the indoor football circuits start back up around this time, so let’s start there. At the top in the AFL, Utah and Chicago are out while LA and Portland are in. LA is interesting in that they are known as the “Kiss” with some really wacky uniforms.  It is the band KISS that owns the team. What is it with rockers getting into the arena league? (Bon Jovi once co-owned the Philadelphia Soul) I won’t go through all of the other franchise changes in the lower leagues, only ones that have an impact on
The List. In the IFL, an arena has reopened after two years of renovations. The Cedar Rapids Titans return back to the US Cellular Center (not to be confused with the other US Cellulared arenas in the Midwest). Chicago’s not able to get this arena game to stick as a different franchise in the area (Slaughter) folded. Now, the only main tenant in the Sears Centre is the little known Outlaws of the CILL (that’s lacrosse).

The CPIFL seems to have a good thing going with a midwestern outfit of generally stable teams. However, the KC franchise did fold and that also closes the book on the ill-fated Kemper Arena. Expect this historic venue to be renovated for other uses or sadly torn down. Meanwhile, deeper in Kansas, I was pleasantly surprised to find an arena I had no idea existed. In 2011, Dodge City completed the United Wireless Arena and this 4,220-seat facility welcomes a CPIFL franchise this spring. Welcome! Elsewhere, the home of the Oklahoma Defenders (located in Tulsa) got a new name: Cox Business Center. Sure, that sounds like a place for football.

In the PIFL, three teams are out, with two of them sadly taking an arena off The List. Albany got booted from the Civic Center, while in Lake Charles, one of the longer running teams in the Louisiana Swashbucklers, folded. That leaves Sudduth Coliseum without sports. Two new franchises came on, including one in Nashville. The Venom will play in the Municial Auditorium, where the Ohio Valley Basketball Tournament has been held recently. We also welcome back Sun National Bank Center in Trenton as they went a winter without hockey, but the expansion Freedom will play on the green turf indoors. There is a league in Texas (LSFL) and two franchise foldings meant we say goodbye to a pair of mid-size arenas in Abilene and Laredo. We’ll ignore the disshevled AIF and say hello to the X-League (no not the XFL). Five teams begin that startup league, along with two new stadiums. First, in Birmingham, the Alabama Outlawz will play at Bill Harris Arena. The other two facilities in the league (Lakeland Center and St. Charles’ Family Arena) feature teams that moved from the UIFL. Confused yet?

In baseball, Spring Training brought a new ballpark to the mix as the Cubs opened Cubs Park in Mesa. Their old home, HoHoKam Stadium, will be renovated this year and eventually house the Oakland A’s next season. While the arms race builds in the college game, only two new parks open and they are both under the required 3,500 capacity limit. UIC introduces Granderson Stadium, while in Seattle, Husky Ballpark offers a spectacular view in the outfield.
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Musings

Posted by Sean Rowland on March 16, 2014

Image from The Sports Fan Journal

How many times in a college basketball game do we see this frusterating image (picture from The Sports Fan Journal)

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Time for a random collection of thoughts and this episode feels like an airing of grievances (“I have a lot of problems with you people!”). Most of the focus is on college basketball:
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-  College Basketball is slowly getting harder to watch and that’s difficult for me to admit of my favorite sport. What is driving the game into the ground is the ridiculous need to review every single potentially malicious foul. The idiot officials gather up and go to the monitor, spend three minutes over multiple replays when the first is usually clear cut…then the dummies convene for awhile before talking to the coaches, making the call and then going on. Are we that sensitive about a push or elbow that everything needs to be looked at. I’ve noticed this so much during conference tournament season and it slows the game to a crawl. Add in the way too many five timeouts per half per team AND the need for each team to have a mini-timeout after every foulout AND the newfound interest to also replay clock stoppages under a minute….this sport is becoming very hard to sit through.

-  Speaking of hard to sit through, I could not watch the Mountain West Tournament on CBS Sports Network Friday. Why? Doug Gottlieb. This self-absorbed, stuck-up twerp is the first commentator to actually force me to change the channel. I’ve always loathed him as have many others (just google “Doug Gottlieb idiot”), but it seemed that he was even pissing off play-by-play man Rich Waltz. If it was me, I probably would’ve decked him after the twerp’s two-minute spiel on how Rich wasn’t doing a tease and didn’t properly know what one was. CBSN, you lost at least one viewer.

-  Since it’s the season, one more college basketball item of note. This has gone on for years, but I can’t believe how seemingly acceptable it is that ESPN regularly uses Bracketology like it is the actual thing. While I’m sure it’s on SportsCenter (I don’t watch the show), I happen to see on the annoying bottom ticker during games, where they not only provide “Last Four Teams In”, but they will even go to the extent of saying if “Team X wins, they are in the tournament”, with ‘according to Joe Lunardi’ casually mentioned at the end. This is all make-believe!!! It’s amazing that announcers will even follow suit and act like a team is in because Bracketology says so. I don’t want to discount Lunardi, because I like him and the initial concept is cool (though I don’t follow it), it is just the machine in Bristol that runs haywire with it.

-  Lastly, a note on Free Agency and Trade Deadlines, where the last few weeks have seen a couple longtime franchise players leave; Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers and Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres. It happens every year and no matter the team, it always makes me sad, though in the case of Miller, it was particularly hard after watching him come through the minors in Rochester and following him with my favorite team in Buffalo. There’s something refreshing about loyalty and seeing a team and player go his whole career together, however those scenarios have become remarkably rare over the last few decades.
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A Day in Brooklyn

Posted by Sean Rowland on March 10, 2014

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

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On Sunday, the spotlight for me was on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where Visit #146 would take place at a Nets game in their relatively new arena. It was a little odd seeing a league that I’m not particularly fond of (NBA) when my favorite sport (College Basketball) was approaching it’s pinnacle…but I will take a new stadium anytime I can squeeze it in. Originally, I thought about doing a doubleheader and seeing the Rangers in the afternoon at the renovated MSG, but I wanted to do some exploring and check out Brooklyn, especially since the weather was tolerable after this brutal winter.

My route of choice lately for getting into NYC (specifically Manhattan) has been to drive the hour to Secaucus Junction and then take one of the many NJ Transit trains into Penn Station. I used to drive to Denville and then take the 90 minute train ride, but the Secaucus way has turned out quite well in saving both time and money (plus it’s very easy to drive to). After arriving at Penn Station, we took the 3 train on the subway to Borough Hall. Prior to my pre-stadium research, I never knew that Brooklyn was almost like it’s own city (complete with downtown and business district). Borough Hall put us right in the middle of this and we started the journey by walking the Brooklyn Bridge. The architectural marvel was packed with wind-blown tourists, all of whom were snapping pictures like myself. It’s a very cool experience and for someone like me who loves skyscrapers and skylines, the view is breathtaking. The exercise and multi-mile walk was ruined by Shake Shack, yet totally worth their burger. Exploring then continued in the nearby Brooklyn Heights section. This is such a lovely neighborhood with gorgeous historic buildings and houses. We took an impromptu walking tour after seeing a flyer pointing out the sites and then went down to the Promenade for more amazing views. Finally, a stop at the Historical Society capped off the tour of this small district. It’s hard to ignore the stereotypes and generalizations that cities gain, but within each one it is vital to take a closer look, then see, explore and appreciate as Brooklyn is a prime example.
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Barclays Center Exterior

My inexperience in subway riding showed back at Borough Hall, where we wandered around for awhile trying to find a way to get to the side of the tracks that would bring the 2 or 3 train deeper into Brooklyn. We found the right train and got to the Atlantic Ave station, which to my surprise features the entrance to the arena right at the top of the stairs out of the station. The Barclays Center has by far the most striking exterior design that I have seen in all my visits. Take a look at the picture above and here as this remarkably modern and sleek face to the arena provides a lasting introduction. The only main entrance offers an expansive lobby and a peek inside the arena, but you can primarily just see the scoreboard as there is a club if you try to get much closer. A sharp-looking concourse is immaculately clean and the charcoal walls give a preview of the black/white/gray color scheme to come. Food is impressive not only for the offerings and local flavor, but also in it’s pricing ($16 for deli sandwiches).

In order to talk about the interior, one has to actually see right? Well I can’t offer much because it was so darn dark inside! I mean so dark, that I could not read my program at any point of the experience, from one hour before tipoff, to during the game to halftime. Purposely, I arrived 90 minutes early to check everything out and snap pictures. Half of that time was me waiting in my seat for the lights to turn on, but they never did…so I settled for crappily lit photos taken during the game. I understand a few NBA teams like that effect (Lakers, Knicks) to showcase the court, but jeez when you can’t read in your seat, are tripping over people’s feet in the aisles or struggling to see getting up stairs…it’s probably time to turn up the lights.

Aside from that huge annoyance, the inside is decent enough, but I liked the AT&T Center down in San Antonio a little better (Barclays had some obstructions from glass partitions in my section and additionally the arena does not have a true stand-out feature). I’ll save the in-depth discussion for the detailed review. But my impressions of the arena started sky-high and then settled a little bit once inside watching the game. Despite the highly-controversial building and development, I do think Brooklyn is a much better home and place for the Nets than New Jersey was. The crowd was lively, but needed to be prompted by the scoreboard or PA to make more noise or chant a little bit. Ironically, this was my second NBA game and both games featured an opponent that was last-place in the Western Conference. The home team had cruised to a win during each game, though Sacramento had a little run before Brooklyn blew them out to open the fourth quarter. Overall, it was a great day in a city that is mostly happy to have a professional franchise back.

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Monmouth’s MAC

Posted by Sean Rowland on March 2, 2014

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It was not too long ago that I paid Monmouth a visit, as their new basketball arenaopened in 2009 with a weekend series against FIU and then nearby Seton Hall. I went to the Seton Hall game and it was at this contest that a couple rules came to me when making a stadium visit. #1. After a new building opens, I should wait a year or two so that they get the kinks out and fix any necessary tweaks (this proved important on holding off before seeing Citi Field). #2. Don’t see a game against a rival or big-name opponent (which tends to skew atmosphere and fan support). I’ve stuck with this little mini-pack lately and been pleased, but I wanted to get back to Monmouth to see a conference game after they have settled into their comfy confines.

A fight through some late Jersey rush-hour traffic got me to the game about seven minutes into the contest as I scurried through the parking lot to the main lobby. They put the box office outside on the side of the building, which is not a good spot and I missed it, having to ask a clearly perturbed woman at will-call where it is (she’s probably been asked a thousand times). The inconvience was made up by the sales guy who gave me a much cheaper student ticket. The arena name couldn’t be more generic (Multipurpose Activity Center or MAC), but the inside is lively and a first-class facility inside the team’s new conference home (MAAC). Though it is a sorta pull-out gym with the stands folding in and out as it sits on an indoor track, once your sitting and watching, the cozy interior is comfortable with great sightlines and aesthetics. One thing I was hoping would improve is the decorative feature of the entrance hallway (Leon Hess Champions Hall). Unfortunately it remains the same as what I saw four years ago, with a distinct lack of displays and the feel of student union as opposed to an arena concourse honoring athletics.

My guess of 1500 fans in attendance was reflected in a surprisingly accurate official attendance number (1,475). Not exactly a big crowd and while this is fairly close to their league average this season of 1828, that average attendance ranks third in the MAAC. It was a typical crowd in terms of energy and it was nice to see they  produced loud cheers and applause after dunks and big plays. The Hawks were on a nine-game losing streak, but this contest was over before I knew it as I walked in and it was 25-13 in favor of the home side. Monmouth ran Niagara out of the gym and they had a lead of 30 at one point, before completing their last home game with a W. Keep an eye on Andrew Nicholas next season as he looked real good throughout, finishing with 27. Check out the full review of Monmouth’s arena as it has been updated. Next up, a trip to Brooklyn for a Sunday evening NBA game. This will be my second NBA arena (the other was AT&T Center in San Antonio) and am looking forward to the visit. I even saw the Rangers playing an afternoon game, so I’ll be working on trying to get to both as I want to see the renovated MSG.

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Conference Championship Locations

Posted by Sean Rowland on February 22, 2014

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On-Campus Sites can provide better atmosphere like here in Quinnipiac, but when done right, a centralized neutral location offers the better spot for a Conference Tournament

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A few years ago
, I broke down each College Basketball conference and their respective tournament location. Certainly a fun little task I enjoyed and wanted to bring it back this season. It’s not as fun when more conferences need a plane ticket just to travel to a road game, but nonetheless, I figured to keep it fair and break down each conference. It’s getting close to the best part of the season as the first postseason is only a couple weeks away. We’ll split these into three categories: the good ones, locations that are just OK and then just plain misfits.

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Good
ACC:     Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Coliseum
…….Should not be anywhere else 

Big XII:     Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center
…….Perfect spot in a basketball and championship-rich city

Big East:     New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
…….I know it is nowhere near the same, but at least there will be five familiar names

Big Ten:    Indianapolis, IN – Bankers Like FieldHouse
…….Basketball’s home state is perfect for a big conference tournament

Big South:    Conway, SC – HTC Center
…….Though it is home to Coastal Carolina, Myrtle Beach is a nice destination for alums and students to gather

Big West:     Anaheim, CA – Honda Center
…….The California Bus League features most if it’s members in SoCal, so Anaheim works well

MAC:     Cleveland, OH – Quicken Loans Arena
…….Excellent location and fans travel well here. Too bad they have that stupid staggered bracket format

Missouri Valley:     St Louis, MO – Scottrade Center
…….The best conference tournament in the country

Pac-12:     Las Vegas – MGM Grand Garden Arena
…….Great neutral site. Though UCLA and USC had a slight advantage when this was held in LA, a little part of me still feels the Staples Center is the right venue.

SEC:     Atlanta, GA – Georgia Dome
…….Not really sure this needs to be in a cavernous football stadium, but at least
they got the city right

Southern:    Asheville, NC – Asheville Civic Center
…….This move a few years back has done wonders as the crowds have been good and Asheville is a beautiful spot

Southland:     Katy, TX – Merrill Center
…….Small arena in a Houston suburb that is an ideal host for the Southland

Sun Belt:      New Orleans, LA – Lakefront Arena
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I thought Hot Springs was a good home, but New Orleans is centralized and offers a lot more

West Coast:     Las Vegas, NV – Orleans Arena
…….Big crowds as each team has brought a high number of fans. Doing quite well



Ehh
America East:     First three rounds in Albany, NY; Final at home of higher seed
…….I know this conference is too small to generate a big crowd at a neutral site. But I think Springfield, MA and the MassMutual Center is a nice,
…….centralized location for them. Plus it takes away unfair home-court advantage for the pre-set host.

Atlantic-10:     Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center
…….I booed Bernadette McGlade when attending this tournament at Atlantic City. She is taking this great, niche conference and trying to make it
…….bigger than what it is with constant change. AC was a perfect home.
 

Atlantic Sun:     Campus Sites
…….Strictly campus sites is better than a pre-determined host. They still could do better, how about Savannah and the Civic Center?
…….It’s a nice destination town within driving distance of most schools

Big Sky:     Campus Sites
…….Hard to say what is best for the Big Sky. Maybe campus is the way to go. A few years ago, I tossed out Boise and the CenturyLink Center,
…….a nice mid-sized venue and city for the conference.

MEAC:     Norfolk, VA – Norfolk Score Arena
…….It was in Winston-Salem previously, but has now been moved to Norfolk this season

MAAC:     Springfield – MassMutual Center
…….Fans haven’t been big on Springfield (I think the spot is better for the America East). Newark’s Prudential Center, is closer to the core of the league’s teams.
…….Though getting dates would be tough with the Devils and Pirates in town.

Mountain West:     Las Vegas – Thomas & Mack Center
…….Yeah, Vegas is awesome, but UNLV has a distinct advantage. How about Salt Lake City?

NEC:     Campus Sites
…….Not ideal but not sure there is a suitable place for them in the NYC Metro area

Patriot:     Campus Sites
…….Have the first round on campus and then put the final eight teams in Philadelphia’s Palestra. This would make for a great Thursday-Sunday event
…….and I’m sure the city would offer a lot alumni.


Bad
American:     Memphis, TN – FedEx Forum
…….Honestly, who gives a crap where it is. This conference is a random mix of teams stretching halfway around the world

Colonial:     Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Arena
…….Tradition be damned. The Colonial did this to itself and as many Virginia members are gone, so is Richmond, site of many memories
…….and a great gathering spot each year for fans. Sad.

Conference-USA:     El Paso, TX – Don Haskins Center
……See notes on the American (AAC)

Horizon:     Campus Sites
…….Move it to Fort Wayne, IN and the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. This Midwestern City School league deserves a neutral, urban site

SWAC:     Houston, TX – Toyota Center
…….This event will probably be played in front of a 90% empty arena. They tried the Southland move by playing in Garland, TX for a few years
…….but it didn’t work out. Struggling conference overall for everything and I feel bad that they just can’t get this right either.

Summit:     Sioux Falls, SD – Sioux Falls Arena
…….See notes on the American (AAC)

WAC:     Las Vegas, NV – Orleans Arena
…….Who plays here again?

Posted in College Basketball | 1 Comment »

Winter Wins This Battle

Posted by Sean Rowland on February 15, 2014

A Traffic Cam from I-380 in the Pocono's on Saturday Afternoon

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This certainly has been a grueling winter season for much of the country and while I love snowstorms, it is getting a little old. After spending way more time in my work office than my own house, hope for a little breather was dashed on Saturday with another shot of snow. The plan was already shaky given the next arriving system, but I was hoping to get to Ithaca, NY and a Cornell hockey game at Lynah Rink, where I was fortunate enough to grab a ticket. The 3 hour drive would bring me through Northeast PA and the Poconos on my way to the Finger Lakes. I had about a six hour window to get there, but that entire window was filled with six inches of snow and some pretty crappy roads. Take into account my sedan that does not have four-wheel drive and unwilling to deal with what I had two February’s ago, it was best to stay home. Instead, it was a day of Olympic watching and catching up on other neglected things.

Alas, it looks like no new visits this month and we’ll play it by ear where we head next. I’ve been wanting a pro game for awhile and it might be time to head to Brooklyn to check out the Barclays Center. I also saw an intriguing doubleheader in mid-March that is possible down in DC. A Capitals game, followed by a visit to Show Place Arena for the CAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. Though given this season, I may just use any lone free days and look on The List for a place to go.

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Feb 2014 Stadium of the Month: Walter Pyramid

Posted by Sean Rowland on February 8, 2014

Walter Pyramid, home of Long Beach State Basketball (Photo Credit - Stadium Journey and Drew Cieszynski)

Walter Pyramid, home of Long Beach State Basketball (Photo Credit – Stadium Journey and Drew Cieszynski)

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This month we’ll head way out west, to the California coast and Long Beach State University. This particular facility made it for a design that only two other buildings resemble. In 1994, when the new basketball arena opened, it immediately became recognizable. Originally known as Long Beach Pyramid (now Walter Pyramid), the arena is just that…a pyramid. Only the Luxur Hotel & Casino in Vegas and the old Pyramid in Memphis (becoming a Bass Pro Shops) have a similar design, making this the only sports facility with that unique shape. The building can be seen from a distance and the dark blue aluminum panel makes for an even more distinctive look. Statistically, this is a “perfect pyramid” with each side measuring exactly the same (345 feet).

Inside, the shape makes for an eye-catching look above as the towering, opaque roof joins at three sides to make a point at the top. During a break in the action, one can’t help to peer above. The interior set-up is spacey as the 5,000 seat capacity features gaps between each of the four black and yellow seating sections. Concessions and walkways are all under the pyramid with the court visible as there is not really an intermediate concourse. While seating structure isn’t all that different from other basketball arenas, the setting certainly is. The Beach has a good fan base and coming to the Pyramid is probably one of the more intimidating places in the Big West. This may be a laid-back part of the country, but the 49ers draw well and students always come out in droves and bring some noise. Check out Walter Pyramid for the remarkable architecture, while taking in one of the solid teams and experiences in the Big West Conference.

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