Stadium and Arena Visits

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

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Olympic Sports

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 10, 2016

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Indoor Volleyball is a great sport to get behind during the Games

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Since I was a kid, I gravitated towards the lesser popular things in sports. The minor leagues, mid-major basketball teams, etc. I guess it is that underdog appeal, just taken to the next level in following those teams and stories from the beginning, not just near the Cinderella end. So it should come as no surprise that when the Olympic Games arrive, I enjoy Archery just as much as Swimming. In fact, I remember being younger and imagining a TV channel where each channel was dedicated to a sport. That wish has materialized during the last few games as each sport is broadcast live online (through NBC Sports), giving us the joy to pick which sport and event to watch. Needless to say, my production drops off during those two weeks.

This Summer Olympics feels different because of the awful going-ons in Brazil. There are certainly issues (see this NY Times article) and one should not ignore the many problems for Brazilians directly caused by hosting the games. But despite my guilt, I (just like the rest of the world) will tune in and follow/watch these games. Stadium Journey has a nice preview of the stadiums and venues, so I wanted to highlight the sports you should check out. Here in the United States, we have a remarkable variation of sports with many options for both participation and attending. Thus, it is hard for a “foreign” sport to squeeze in and find attention. The Olympics provide a great opportunity to learn, follow and enjoy something you may not be used to with competition at it’s best. Even though the popular Olympic sports only shine once every years, I invite you for a couple nights to skip the heavy dosage of prime-time swimming, storytelling, track, commercials and beach volleyball and check these out…
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1)  Handball

A combination of basketball, soccer and hockey…what’s not to like! I know that anyone that is a general sports fan would love this. Europe is the continent that plays the most and it certainly is a mix of our favorite sports. Enjoy some highlights.

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2)  Volleyball

While the beach is fun, I prefer the 6-on-6 indoor game. High Schools and Colleges have decent participation and I played in an intramural league in college that was a blast. The last few years, I’ve visited a couple NCAA venues and really enjoyed watching the contest. The strategy involved is intriguing and the matches are quick and fun to watch. Have you ever noticed how happy the women’s volleyball players are? I think this is the only sport with so many smiling athletes. 

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3)  Table Tennis

OK, there is a bias here because I had some heated ping-pong battles in high school. It can be hard to follow with the speed of the ball, but the rallies are intense. I love when someone throws a drop shot in there. Like tennis, there is both singles and doubles.

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4)  Badminton

Similar to table tennis, the birdie goes at light speed (like 200mph fast) and unlike a bright, yellow tennis ball, the white shuttlecock is hard to pick out. Nonetheless, it’s great to watch and it would be even better if NBC brought back Bill Clement to commentate.

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5)  Trampoline

Anytime this comes on, I feel like everyone collectively says “Oooohh Cooool”. Visually appealing, trampoline offers remarkable routines and skill. The intricacies and scoring of the sport make it hard to completely get in to, but there is certainly a hook that will have observers glued on it for awhile.

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The New Stadium Journey

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 2, 2016

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Many of you know that I also write for Stadium Journey, an expansive venture that provides readers with informative reviews of stadiums around the world. As you would think, it is right up my alley and the network that founder Paul Swaney has built is quite remarkable. With SJ being the primary source of information for those looking to head to a new sports facility for the first time, the growth has necessitated development in the website. I’m blown away how time is flying as I’ve done reviewing there since 2010 and as Stadium Journey gets closer to their 10th anniversary, it is with great excitement to see the website revamped and launched yesterday. With Scout’s vast resources, bigger and better things are on the horizon and the new site really helps navigating the hundreds (thousands?) of stadiums reviewed. My favorite aspect of the website is the Forums. As an avid sports traveler, our niche has lacked a centralized place for like people to communicate and share thoughts and ideas. This is exactly what stadium aficionados like myself need. In addition, there are many times, where I’ve had to surf and sift my way through the internet to try and find true feedback from locals about their team home. They not only provide valuable information on key review aspects, but also can help as I plan a trip in regards to restaurants, parking, parts of a city to visit/avoid, getting tickets, etc. I’m hoping both stadium lovers and general sports fans converge on these boards to get conversations going on the stadium experience. I’m truly excited for the new SJ website launch and you’ll see me active on the forums as sports traveler nuts now have an online social home!

 

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Musings

Posted by Sean Rowland on June 15, 2016

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Time for a round of Musings…this time, focusing on the world of sports watching not from a stadium perspective, but from the couch.
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– There will be a time when I get into talking about the best and worst announcers for each sport, so I will try not to digress. While some of the random mixing of announcer pairings for Tennis on ESPN annoys me, their coverage is far superior to the Tennis Channel / NBC and that was quite evident during the French Open. In the latter stages of the tournament, when I wanted to watch a much more compelling match, not only was there no online option to choose my match (well an online option without an extra fee), but I was stuck with TC’s full coverage of the nauseatingly boring Serena Williams match, which was a blow out. This is the time for that network to shine and it failed miserably. NBC’s normally terrific all-around sports coverage has it’s lone weak spot in Tennis with their often-ridiculed tape delay, despite the presence of NBCSN.
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– Fox Soccer…Holy crap are they awful and their winning of the World Cup broadcast rights makes me want to vomit. While they made strides in their Women’s World Cup coverage last year, the Copa has taken two steps back. I don’t have to watch any studio garbage, but what little bit I saw, it certainly made me avoid it at all costs. Lalas is being Lalas, but now we have Fernando Fiore. Yes, he has done soccer, but he also is more known as a TV entertainment guy, which is classic Fox to bring him in. He’s polarizing and you can put me this opinion’s corner. The good thing: no Wynalda. The actual game coverage has not been immune from errors and the most egregious is the failed sync of sound and video during the US-Columbia match, leading to the TV audience hearing Columbia score a goal 1 second before the ball went in. Could you imagine that happening in a World Cup?! But, I bring you back to what I wrote last year in that if it’s the World Cup, America still doesn’t really care. I will say that I really like John Strong and I think Stuart Holden has done very well thus far. Which brings me too…..
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– ESPN’s world soccer coverage is terrific and continues to be so. Everything with their Euro coverage is terrific and it starts with The General, Bob Ley. He is masterful as studio host and most of the other pundits are great as well. Tirico, for his short time left at ESPN, is a very solid #2. The only thing I would change, is get rid of the often snarky Taylor Twellman. He has no chemistry with the excellent Ian Darke and I am thrilled when I hear Macca paired up with him instead. A Holden for Twellman swap would be welcomed. Otherwise, great stuff from them and that music! Oh that theme gives me goosebumps when I hear it. It was one of my top TV theme songs and I often get memories of a celebrating US team post-match with that gradually crescendo-ing theme in the background. Glorious!
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– If I ever watch Final Round golf coverage of a non-major, it is often on DVR before I go to bed. This is the ONLY way to go if the event is on CBS because of the insane amount of commercials. How this topic has never been broached, I don’t know (well, I guess I do, it’s non-major golf!), but the next event, I am going to keep track of how many sets of commercials are run. My guess…12 separate sets at a total of 24 minutes. I’ll update after this happens.
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The Collegiate Summer Baseball Leagues…Saving the Historic Ballpark

Posted by Sean Rowland on June 4, 2016

Dunn Field Exterior

Classic’s like Elmira’s Dunn Field continue to host baseball a few months a year thanks to leagues like the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL)

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We live in a time where the lifespan of a professional arena/stadium has become 25 years. Well, the lifespan in the eyes of a team owner as we all know these facilities can go on much, much longer. Places like the Georgia Dome, Turner Field, Knights Stadium and Orlando Arena are just a few of the facilities meeting (or slating to meet) the wrecking ball after a short life. In baseball, specifically the minor-league world, the stadium boom of the 1990s meant that many of those wonderful early 20th century ballparks met their demise or sat empty as the team left a city for greener pastures. That is where Collegiate Summer Baseball Leagues have come in and unintentionally saved these classic wonders.

So what is a collegiate league? The basis is on college players looking to play competitive baseball for the summer and after their school season is done, those with remaining eligibility join up with a summer-league team, where they play from Early June to Early August. Host families give the kids a place to live and all of the leagues feature teams that are a bus trip away. The most well known is the Cape Cod League, which has been featured in documentaries and movies. Many of those teams play on high school fields that are endearing, but of the most basic variety. The Northwoods League often has the biggest crowds and they are part of a growing trend that has seen new teams form in markets that recently lost pro baseball. Battle Creek, Kalamazoo and Rockford are three recent examples. What this has done is keep perfectly functional ballparks alive and communities still enjoying a night out with America’s Pastime. In a similar manner, the Collegiate Leagues have saved the old ballparks. Take two of the teams in the Northwoods League: Duluth and Waterloo. Both were causalities of a changing era, especially Waterloo, who couldn’t meet new minor-league stadium standards. Instead of seeing Wade Stadium and Riverfront Stadium sit empty, the affordable-to-run summer league allowed for crowd-gathering baseball to continue in venerable facilities. These historic beauts feature that classic grandstand, obstruction poles and lack of luxury suites that make those that love baseball sit back and relax in a place that oozes pleasant memories. Inherently, those that love baseball, tend to love nostalgia and “pastime”, thus making the perseverance of a town relic all the more special. Plenty of other leagues aside from the Northwoods have great 60+ year old ballparks to share and a few examples include:

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Of all the sports, baseball is the one that draws the most travelers and road-trippers. They often focus on the minor-leagues, which is certainly all well and good. But I urge any out there to include the Collegiate Summer Leagues and make a stop at one of their local charming parks for a special night that often elicits feelings of yesteryear.

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Rockland’s Summer Home

Posted by Sean Rowland on May 24, 2016

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Amazingly. the streak of scheduled ballpark visits without an inclement weather postponement continues as the Rockland Boulders and Sussex County Miners got their game in ahead of the rain at Palisades Credit Union Park. Having a scheduled doubleheader and a 6:30 PM start helped as the 7th (last) inning featured everything getting wet. Having a scheduled doubleheader shows just how much sales & marketing controls lower-level baseball, though it is brilliant as the Boulders had their fireworks show between games. Less of that annoying game to be played on the field and an earlier start (8:30 – 9:00 PM) for the main show to bring out more of the younger ones. There was also a 5k going on that ended inside the park’s outfield walkway in the early innings. The Boulders really do a great job of being innovative and bringing people inside the doors. And it was a fine crowd for this second game of the season in mid-May. Upon arrival, I was taken aback by so many cars tailgating before the game. That’s something I haven’t seen for a minor or indy baseball game and it shows these fans make it an event. Given Rockland County’s demographics, it was no surprise to see the crowd made up of about 90% families with kids. As you would expect interest to the field was minimal and the concourses/other entertainment areas were consistently busy.

Despite all the corruption, money and subsequent debt that was the result of this ballpark, it is a great stadium from an aesthetic and hobbyist standpoint. The use of stone for many of the support and design pieces is an appreciated, yet natural touch given the nearby landscape. The exterior of the ballpark is a little odd and bare, but inside is terrific. Seats along the small, one-level bowl is angled towards the infield, while the specialty spaces that make the stadium standout. The Bridge Bar is a cool spot to watch the game and for adults to hang out in a bar-like atmosphere. Other outfield spots to watch the game make for a different perspective. A new thing to me are the loge areas framed by rock formations that are at the top of the seating bowl. I would assume this is cheaper than a suite and this exposed section still offers a private group a space to watch the game with food and drink (maybe this is why all but one of the above luxury level was empty). Great park and for more, check out the review: #171 Palisades Credit Union Park. The Boulders won the game easily 8-1 as they put up a four spot in both the third and fifth innings. Junior Arrojo had six RBI, which included a home run. Part two of the doubleheader was rained out.  

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The Boulders Next Weekend

Posted by Sean Rowland on May 12, 2016

rockland

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We are back in live action next weekend as our next visit is one that is relatively close-by. Just an hour drive from me is Rockland County, NY and this residential, suburban area NW of NYC is home to the Rockland Boulders of the Can-AM League. Their ballpark (now called Palisades Credit Union Park) is five years old and it is also at the center of a federal investigation. Despite strong opposition from voters, Ramapo town leaders went ahead and constructed this ballpark with the cost ballooning to $60 million. Now, the main character in this fiasco was recently arrested in a federal indictment, where he basically lied about the financial status of the town. It’s not a good situation…but baseball continues to be played at the ballpark and I will be in town to check out the Boulders next Saturday (May 21) for a 6:30 PM game against Sussex County. Despite the financial troubles, we’ll see how the stadium and experience is for this independent franchise.

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Best NHL Anthem Singers

Posted by Sean Rowland on May 2, 2016


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When it comes to the National Anthem, I have always had a soft spot for the performance that Whitney Houston gave at Super Bowl XXV in 1991. No matter how many times I see it, it works to get me emotional. In the world of sports, hockey probably has the most passionate anthem singers and while watching the playoffs each year, I’m always happy to see NBC show various performances. Though I haven’t heard everybody in the league, there’s a good chance I’ve seen the most consistent performers. Below are some of my favorites. Not on the list: the ridiculous Rene Rancourt of the Boston Bruins. He gets so much play for his gold-tinged outfits and post-anthem fist pumps, but I find him to be completely overrated.

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1)  Sonya Bryson  –  Tampa Bay Lightning

Not one of the bigger or most known names on this list, but she can bring it. Always sings a wonderful rendition of the Anthem and doesn’t get cute with it or change any of the notes like so many annoyingly do. Powerful voice.

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2)  Jim Cornelison  –  Chicago Blackhawks

Part of the most unique anthem in sports, Blackhawk fans stand and cheer during the Anthem, so it wouldn’t feel right hearing that operatic voice of Cornelison without the roar of the crowd in the background. He has a commanding presence and that trademark, emphatic gesture during “flag was still there” is goosebump-inducing. 

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3)  Doug Allen  –  Buffalo Sabres

Not just a homer pick. Doug has such a nice, clean rendition of the Anthem and he fits the part too, always looking sharp in his tux. I like the couple minor tweaks in his voice he makes during the last few lines and his signature point at the end during ” home of the brave” is great. 

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4)  Lauren Hart/Kate Smith  –  Philadelphia Flyers

Another unique tradition come playoff-time is the duet of Lauren Hart and Kate Smith singing not the Star-Spangled Banner, but God Bless America. Lauren starts it out and then when Kate comes up on the scoreboard belting out “From the mountain”, the crowd goes wild. They both come together at the end of the song to finish as a duet thanks to the wonders of technology and Lauren’s remarkable synchronization.

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5)  Mark Donnelly  –  Vancouver Canucks

I may be an American, but I know all the words to O Canada as well. Such an awesome anthem with a country that takes great pride in it. There are several great anthem singers in the Great White North, but Mark Donnelly is one of the best.

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Honorable Mention
Pia Toscano – Los Angeles Kings…Beautiful voice, more of a modern approach,  but does not go too crazy. Very well done
John Amirante – New York Rangers…Recently retired, otherwise he would be in the Top 5. Had the fortune of hearing him live and it was wonderful
Lyndon Slewidge – Ottawa Senators…An operatic voice in Canada’s capital dressed in full garb.
Ginette Reno – Montreal Canadiens…Demands attention as an all-around French Canadian star. Infrequent singer at the Bell Centre, but it’s a big moment when she is there

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2016 Ballpark Changes

Posted by Sean Rowland on April 24, 2016

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Welcome Back to the Minor Leagues Columbia as we say hello to your new ballpark

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Before getting into the return of Columbia, let’s start in the Nutmeg State with the biggest controversy this offseason. The Rock Cats of the Eastern League made their home in New Britain for the last few decades, quietly humming along as an average franchise doing fine. Surprisingly, news broke a couple years ago of the team looking to move 12 miles north to Hartford after their lease expired. The wheels turned and the state capitol got the team and a new ballpark emerged with a ridiculously high price tag for future development. The city (and taxpayers) ended up bearing the brunt of it and that’s probably not a good thing given Hartford’s history in this category. Construction and financing became delayed and Dunkin’ Donuts (yup) Park is opening late as the Yard Goats (yup again) will start much of the season on the road. Maybe the park will be great and do nice things for the city, but since the start, I haven’t been a fan of this project. The worst part…Check out the Mayor’s proposed budget….Ummm, probably not a good idea then for a $56 million ballpark! On a much more minor, personal level, this ballpark means that I no longer have completed the Eastern League Ballpark circuit, so expect me to firm that up next year with a trip to Hartford. As for New Britain Stadium, they will become home to an independent franchise as the Bees join the Atlantic League. Glad to see that happen. The Bees replace the Camden RiverSharks, who sadly leave the beautiful view at Campbell’s Field and no professional franchise will be there this summer. It’s too bad as that struggling city spent a money on a new ballpark and aquarium in the 90s to bring people into the city, now one of them is vacant. Take note cities that spend all this money on a facility to ‘revitalize’ the city. For every Fort Wayne, there is a Camden.

Elsewhere, affiliated baseball returns to Columbia, SC for the first time since 2004. Spirit Communications Park opened to an overflow crowd a few weeks ago as the Columbia Fireflies took the field, continuing the trend of funky baseball nicknames. I like this one and the glow-in-the-dark uniforms are a cool touch as well. Columbia replaces Savannah in the South Atlantic League, which is unfortunate as the league loses Historic Grayson Stadium. Thankfully, baseball will still be played as Savannah joins the summer-collegiate, Coastal Plain League. In Florida, the Lakeland Flying Tigers will play the year at tiny Henley Field as Joker Marchant Stadium experiences a significant renovation. These ballpark changes are not necessarily for the single-A team, but instead for Spring Training season when Detroit takes up shop in Lakeland for a month. It will be an interesting year for the Flying Tigers as Henley Field (still located within Lakeland) is an old-school park. Out in the Midwest, Lansing’s 20 year-old ballpark got a fresh (and pricey) makeover. Folks heading to Cooley Law School Stadium (man, these names get worse and worse) will find new seats, a wraparound concourse, a new scoreboard, new food and a fresh coat of paint this year.

In college baseball, perhaps the biggest news is down in Alabama, where the Crimson Tide returned to Sewell-Thomas Stadium after a complete makeover. The $42 million renovation turned the park into a modern facility with all of the amenities one would expect. At Clemson, Doug Kingsmore Stadium has received a nice facelift, which includes a museum, showcasing the Tigers baseball program. Wake Forest moved into Ernie Shore Field after the Dash moved to a new downtown facility and the Demon Deacons continue to do some work on the venerable facility. It has been renamed David F. Couch Ballpark after the former player made a significant contribution to create a new facility, which will lower capacity but greatly benefit the program. In a similar renovation/rename, Northwestern baseball re-opened Rocky and Bernice Miller Park and this ballpark is certainly a small jewel for a school not known for nice athletic facilities.

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The Most Memorable Games I’ve Been To

Posted by Sean Rowland on April 9, 2016


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Ahh the memories. While most of my stadium visits nowadays are confined to visiting places during the regular season to ensure a more true gauge of a facilities’ atmosphere, I have seen my fair share of special moments. Of course, even a game that is not expected to be ‘big’ can produce an amazing moment and that is the beauty of sports. As you would expect, my most memorable games are those involving my favorite team, but there are some other really good ones sprinkled in as well. Below are my Top 5, starting off with the video you see at the top…

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1)  Buffalo Sabres vs Pittsburgh Penguins  –  2001 NHL Eastern Semifinals  –  Game 5  –  HSBC Arena

How times have changed…My friend, Lee, and I bought tickets a few weeks prior for just $53…that’s right $53. The series was tied at 2 and this was an early Saturday Afternoon game, which meant that us 17-year old youngins didn’t have to worry about breaking the law by driving past 9 PM. The Pens went up 2-0 and then in the third period, the Sabres roared back and the place went nuts when the visitors took a penalty. That led to the tying goal and the most nervous I’ve ever been at a game. After an endless 15 minute break for overtime, it took 8 minutes and 34 minutes of playing time to get the result. We heard the ping of the crossbar’s underside post and a breathtaking roar as Stuuuu Barnes won the game. I will never forget those two sounds for the rest of my life.

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2)  Syracuse Crunch vs Rochester Amerks  –  2004 AHL Western Quarterfinals  –  Game 7  –  War Memorial Arena at OnCenter

This was the year of the NHL Lockout and as a result, the AHL was loaded and my hometown Amerks had a core group of future stars with Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville and Derek Roy. Being only 45 minutes away at college in Oswego, I drove down to Syracuse for Game 1, which the Crunch took. The series continued with strange scorelines and it eventually came down to a Game 7. My fellow Rochesterian and Sabre fan, Tony, joined me for the game and it was a memorable night. It all started with us being sold tickets from the box office to seats that didn’t exist. Given that it was a sellout, an usher found us seats to use and by the time we got there, we were already sweaty as the old building was stifling thanks to the warm weather. The place was extremely loud and there were plenty of Amerks fans. With tensions running high, the game went to OT and a Syracuse miss went around the boards, leading to a 2-on-1, which the Amerks converted and sent us into hysterics. 

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3)  Rhode Island Rams vs Charlotte 49ers  –  2011 NCAA Basketball  –  Ryan Center

Everything was going along like any other game. The Rams and 49ers were in a tight one and typical of about 75% of Division I college basketball games, the crowd was laid back in their following of the contest. I moved around a few times to different seats and as the game got down to the final seconds, I decided to video the ending as no one was around me (see link above). What I caught, was a Jamal Wilson put-back at the buzzer that reminded me of why I love sports so much. 

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4)  Quinnipiac Bobcats vs Robert Morris Colonials  –  2011 NEC Basketball Semifinals  –  TD Bank Sports Center

Fresh off of the amazing ending in Rhode Island just a month earlier, I was in for another basketball treat. As opposed to the Power 5, I’m a bigger fan of low-mid major basketball and the conference tournaments in these other 25 or so leagues are terrific spectacles. I drove to Hamden, CT in a continuous heavy rain to see the Semifinals of the NEC Tournament as Quinnipiac hosted Robert Morris. The students had the place rocking and the game was down to the final seconds. After a roar-inducing video played on the scoreboard, I figured this would be another home team celebration. However, Velton Jones had other ideas and his ridiculous runner that went in with four seconds left sent Robert Morris to the title game.

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5)  Lehigh Mountain Hawks vs Yale Bulldogs  –  2005 NCAA Football  –  Goodman Stadium

These teams let the ball fly and even though there were 103 passes thrown, the Division I-AA level means less breaks in play and better flow to the game. Lehigh came back from 21-6 down and even more impressive is they did it with their backup quarterback. With only four minutes left he led the Hawks to the tying TD and a beautiful 2-point conversion toss to the back of the end zone. In OT, Lehigh scored first and I had a great view of the action from the grassy hill behind the end zone. Yale had four chances to tie the game from inside the 10 and when their last attempt was stymied by a great defensive play, the Mountain Hawks rushed the end zone to celebrate.

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2016 Soccer Updates

Posted by Sean Rowland on March 29, 2016

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The Bethlehem Steel begin play in the USL. Awesome name and logo, but the field, website and everything else…needs some work

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It is a rare year for the MLS in 2016 as it features stability. The same 20 teams and the same 20 stadiums. But don’t get used to it as the league continuously expands. On the stadium front, the only notable item is up in Toronto, where TFC embarks on a long, season-opening road trip again as their home, BMO Field, sees Phase 2 of their renovation completed. A new canopy will cover much of the seats and the field is set-up to host the Argonauts. Otherwise, there are two ugly name changes to speak of as PPL Park changes to Talen Energy Stadium and Sporting Park switches to Children’s Mercy Park. And as for Don Garber’s baby (NYCFC), they remain stuck in Yankee Stadium for the foreseeable future.

In the NASL, we find the 2016 season +1 on the franchise ledger. The Atlanta Silverbacks are gone as that city prepares for the MLS, while in San Antonio, their soccer is now in the USL as the new Spurs ownership group tries to cozy up with the MLS connection. In Miami, an ownership group is skipping right past David Beckham’s stadium trouble and they have brought Miami FC into the league as they will play in FIU Stadium. They will be the closest team to the Puerto Rico franchise that also begins in 2016. A La Liga team, Rayo Vallecano has invested in an NASL franchise as Rayo OKC will play at the 6,000-seat Miller Stadium, located at Yukon High School. All of these non-American soccer nicknames drive me nuts. What does Rayo, Real, United, Sporting, FC, etc. have to do with American soccer? It’s a trend that I wish would stop, but keeps on going full speed ahead. I like to see Portland Timbers, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Richmond Kickers. Anyways, side tangent over, it is interesting that Oklahoma City will now have two teams as there is also the Energy, who enter their third season in the USL. It just shows you convoluted the American Soccer Pyramid is.  

Another trend I hate is that of MLS teams owning these developmental squads in the USL. I ranted about this last year and how we are veering away from communities having a team and showing civic pride, but now it is about big brother more than ever. Swope Park Rangers will play in Kansas City, while Orlando City B (how original) will use a complex in Melbourne. There are at least two local teams joining: Rio Grande Valley FC and Bethlehem Steel. The Steel is a great nod to the historic club team back in the 1920s that dominated the first US Open Cup competitions. Their logo is great and so is the name, but everything else, not so much. The team doesn’t even have a website (you have to go the Union’s page) and they’ll play in Goodman Stadium, a horrible place for soccer with it’s far away seating sections. Down in the Rio Grande Valley, they are doing things right and are set to open RGVFC Stadium. Progress looks slow based on Twitter Pics, but hopefully the place is ready in a month as it looks like it will be good. Lastly, the Austin Aztex had stadium issues and are sitting out this season. 

I may sound like a grump here, but as great as the growth of soccer in this country is, there are many frustrations developing at the club level…..New MLS teams starting in big cities where they will get lost in the professional landscape (Atlanta, Minnesota), not to mention them likely playing in football stadiums….The NASL wrongly insisting it is a first division….The NASL having such a strange Spring and Fall season schedule with weird playoffs….The MLS taking over the USL as we lose our “minor league” identity and growth in other cities….Two lower-division teams in the same city?

Not wanting to end on a sour note, let’s finish with some amazing stuff that truly makes me smile as a soccer fan. There are remarkable things going on at the very bottom of the soccer pyramid in the amateur-level NPSL. Grassroots teams have been developed by fans and the story of both Detroit City FC and Chattanooga FC is awesome. I highly recommend checking out both links…almost brings a tear to my eye.

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