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Michigan Wrap-Up, plus Flint is Fun!

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 14, 2017



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My “winter-sport” trip began appropriately as it was freezing, both in New Jersey and when I arrived in Michigan, where I wouldn’t see the temperature break 40 F the whole trip, despite the calendar saying November. The flight was on time and after about 10 minutes of initial bumpiness, smooth. Lack of earlier sleep made me opt for a brief hotel nap instead of a quick visit to the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments in Ann Arbor. I staggered back to my feet for dinner and Zingerman’s Delicatessen was just what I needed, a hearty delicious meal. Zingerman’s has a crazy consortium of buildings and once I navigated it to the menu and ordering section, the big board blew me away. So many yummy choices! As badly as I wanted to try their renowned corned beef, I opted for #85, JVW’s Detroit St BBQ. It was then onto Yost Ice Arena for a bucket-list visit.

Yost is a historic old building evidenced on the outside by the brick facade and field house appearance. Inside, the renovations are obvious as the concourse displays and center scoreboard are most notable in regards to updates. The seating is awkward in that overhanging club sections make for a closed and almost obstructed appearance for the back four rows on each side. The design is such that each side has flat seating, so the corners are not a desireable place to sit. The inside does not do the exterior appearance justice and that’s because this is not an original hockey rink as it was retrofitted to become one in the 70s. What makes Yost special is the atmosphere thanks to the students and band. They were both phenomenal and made for a really fun place to watch a game. There are only a handful of stadiums that I have been to where I left craving more and thinking about the game for days after. This was one of them. Their “Sieve” chant is terrific and so is their originality, evident by the 10-year-old kid who joined them after the students went bonkers as he obeyed their request by taking his socks off on the zamboni ride. And that band! My opinion they have the best three-song combo in the country (Hail to the Victors, Lets Go Blue and Can’t Turn You Loose). The game was phenomenal as well after things looked bleak when Minnesota grabbed a 3-0 lead in the second period. The Wolverines came back and the game went to OT before Michigan’s Alex Roos put home the winner. Great experience that lived up to my lofty expectations.
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Saturday, I made the hour trip up US-23 to Flint. This is certainly a city that has it’s share of struggles, but media portrayal makes it seem like this is the worst place in the world and no one should step foot there. Absolutely not the case. As a visitor, I found enough to entertain me for the day. People were warm and in my driving and walking, I never felt concerned or threatened. I started in the Flint Cultural Center, a complex developed several decades ago to enhance quality of life for locals. I spent a couple hours in the Sloan Museum, which had a history of the city and several intriguing exhibits. There is also a huge kids section and it was quite popular, with the Clifford section being busiest. I love museums and have been fortunate to see some real good ones of late as Sloan ranks up there with the Alabama State Museum I saw earlier in the year. For lunch, I went downtown and explored the Flint Farmers Market, a year-round local shopping/eating destination. This place had everything and after a nice lunch at Steady Eddy’s, I wandered for awhile and bought a few things to bring back home. After a quick walk down historic Saginaw Street, it was off to Dort Federal Event Center for an OHL game with the Flint Firebirds. This building certainly shows signs of its 1969 birth, but a refurbishment has improved it into a quality OHL arena. Seating is simple and decent, while I really liked the concourse, which was baseball style as fans could walk around and still see the ice. It just needs more in the way of color and displays. The Firebirds had this game at 3 PM as it was part of a Veterans Day celebration that was very well done. The team did a lot of great honoring and there was even an Oath of Enlistment between periods. Unfortunately, the Firebirds fell to the Soo Greyhounds 8-2 as poor goaltending, penalties and some quality shot-making did Flint in.
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For the next game, I was eagerly watching the clock and my phone as traffic was building due to construction on 23-South. A huge thank you to Google Maps and technology as during my drive back to Ann Arbor, they deftly maneuvered me around 20 minutes of traffic and got me to the Crisler Center an hour before gametime. I needed every minute of that time as the arena is remarkably modern after a 2012 renovation. Concourse displays had so much for me to take in and I was really impressed at the crisp, clean nature of the building. I’ve always viewed Crisler as a dark and blah arena on the inside from my college basketball following and that is partially the case. However, arena seating is comfortable and their lack of a suite deck (replaced by “Champions Boxes” on a would-be middle walkway), makes for solid sightlines. Typical of most Power 5 programs, this non-conference game only filled half the building as the Wolverines played North Florida in a close one. Not until 10 minutes left, did Michigan pull away and the Ospreys look to have the capability to challenge for the A-Fun title this year. The students, while not as energetic or vocal as their Yost brethren, did fill their sections.
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On Sunday, I spent the morning doing work-related stuff before heading to Ypsilanti. With rain falling and the thermometer nervously flirting with 32, I was thankful not to find any ice and that the temperature gradually climbed through the day. The Convocation Center was the destination as Eastern Michigan basketball took on Michigan, Dearborn that is. A non-D1 school is not out of the ordinary for the Eagles as they play around four per season. Their arena is a nice building, one of the best in the MAC. The spacious lobby a nice welcome and the interior is designed well for basketball. They have a beautiful scoreboard too. Unfortunately, not many see it as I counted about 350 in attendance and that’s not far from the norm as the team usually is last in league attendance. The Eagles predictably won, but it was an entertaining affair that had good pace. Final score: 97-73 over the Wolverines. I know their part of the UM system, but why can’t Dearborn use their own nickname and logo?

After the game it was off to DTW for a flight back home. A very successful and fun trip and thank you to those involved. 4 stadiums in 3 days: Yes! I will have the reviews on each one in the coming weeks.
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An Upcoming Weekend Stadium Trip

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 6, 2017

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Last year, I had a trip planned to Wisconsin for Badgers Basketball and a couple hockey games. Those plans were derailed by an accident that required surgery, which meant I at least got an exchange on my plane ticket. With that ticket only good for a year, I’ve been searching for the right set-up and it was found in Michigan this weekend. The combination of game times, flights and region familiarity made this the trip I decided on. I’ll fly out to Detroit and arrive Friday Afternoon, which (hopefully barring delays) will give me time for the evening Michigan Hockey game at Yost Ice Arena in nearby Ann Arbor. When I cram as many stadiums as possible into a trip, I usually look for a place that I’ve already been to, so I don’t feel jipped in missing that city’s attractions. In this case, I was in Ann Arbor a year ago and did some sightseeing while in town, so the limited time here is ok. On Saturday, I’ll drive an hour north to Flint, where I will indeed be spending some leisure time and I look forward to proving that the city is not as bad as the media portrays it to be. A museum, the Farmers Market and a walk downtown proceeds an afternoon matinee with the OHL’s Firebirds as they take on Sault Ste. Marie. Right after the game, it’s back to A2 for the start of the college basketball season! It pained me not to visit my favorite type of stadium last year and I very much am looking forward to seeing the Wolverines season opener at the Crisler Center. The final game of the weekend will be in the town next door as the beautiful Convocation Center in Ypsilanti will host the Eastern Michigan basketball game during the afternoon. Crossing my fingers for smooth sailing as this trip includes a bucket list facility (Yost), my 5th OHL arena (25% of the league) and a couple games featuring my favorite sport. Back next week with a wrap-up and the reviews of each facility!
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2017-2018 Hockey Arenas

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 23, 2017

 

For the first time since 1999, the city of Elmira will not have professional hockey this coming season

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While T-Mobile Arena has been open for over 6 months, it made it’s professional tenant debut a few weeks ago as the Vegas Golden Knights dropped the puck after a stirring pre-game ceremony. It is obvious that this arena will feature plenty of road team fans for every game given it’s location in a destination city. The question is will the Knights and their fans be able to make it a rink that is decidedly in favor of the home team? I hope the front office gets creative with keeping tickets in the hands of the gray and gold come playoff time. We also had another arena opening in Detroit as the Red Wings moved into Little Caesars Arena. It looked like a
typical Red Wings crowd on opening night, an ominous sign going forward. Beautiful building, but I am going to miss that decrepit, yet nostalgic scoreboard at The Joe that amazingly survived in this time of technology. Finally, news from Ottawa where the team reduced the seating capacity at the Canadian Tire Center in an effort to increase demand for tickets after the team got some flak for not selling out during the playoffs. Maybe the NHL is reaching its limit for exorbitant ticket prices?

Down in the minors, there was some shifting as Binghamton moved to Belleville, ON, bringing the Senators a closer affiliate. In the process, the city of Belleville spruced up Yardmen Arena for the AHL. Nice to see a team back in that area after they recently lost their OHL franchise. As for Binghamton, hockey thankfully will still be played in their fun, old-school 70s arena as they get the Devils franchise from Albany. That does mean the Capital District is without a team for the first time since the early 1990s. The franchise struggled to draw for years and the game I attended there way back in 2002 was a dull experience. Times Union Center remains on The List however, thanks to Siena Men’s Basketball, who continue to play home games downtown. One other big change is the new arena completed in Laval, Quebec. The suburb of Montreal will host the baby Habs in the 9,449-seat Bell Place and the team name is the Laval Rocket. They replace the St. John’s IceCaps and I hate to see Mile One Centre lose hockey. Those great people unfortunately suffer in the hockey world due to their remote location. A National Basketball League – Canada team will at least become the main tenant in that building.

In the ECHL: We have to say goodbye to the Alaska Aces and Elmira Pioneers. While Sullivan Arena is still going to be filled by the University of Alaska-Anchorage hockey team, the same can not be said for First Arena in Elmira. That is a rink I have been to a couple times and one that I really enjoyed. There is good news in a returning arena that I have visited as the city of Worcester is back, along with the DCU Center, just a few years after losing the AHL. Amazingly, the new Railers sold the place out for their season opener and it would be awesome to see that good support continue (like Albany, the AHL didn’t do that great in Worcester). Moving up from the now-defunct CHL is the Kansas City Mavericks. It’s not the Sprint Center, but rather Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in nearby Independence that is the home arena, which is a much better fit. Finally, Jacksonville takes over the former Evansville Icemen franchise, who were supposed to relocate to Owensboro, KY before that deal fell through. The Icemen will play in Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

The SPHL continues to chug along, which is good as we need a “Single-A” hockey league. Sadly, the Columbus Cottonmouths suspended operations and the team will not be back after playing uninterrupted for 21 seasons. We will see the Birmingham area get a franchise, though they won’t be playing downtown, instead they are at the Pelham Civic Center, a tiny little place that seats under 3,000 and doesn’t qualify for The List

Both NCAA Hockey and the three Major Junior leagues in Canada feature no changes this season. There a couple of tweaks in the junior-level United States Hockey League as we saw Bloomington go through a rebrand (now known as Central Illinois Flying Aces). Their arena name changed too as it is called Grossinger Motors Arena. Up in Madison, big changes as the Mad Caps leave Veterans Memorial Coliseum. They were supposed to go to Hartmeyer Arena, but then that arrangement did not work out and they ended up at a 1,300-seat recreation rink. Not good and let’s hope that franchise is not in trouble. I actually had plans to attend a Capitols game at the Coliseum last year and am glad that did not happen as it would’ve been a waste of visit with the team departing shortly thereafter. It should be noted that building does still live on as it is the annual host to Wisconsin’s High School Hockey State Championship. 

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Baltimore Ravens and Towson Tigers

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 2, 2017

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Seasonal tolerance is a funny thing. After a week of near 90 degree late-season heat, temps in the 50s and low 60s certainly made a football trip more bearable, but man, did I need to layer up as we began on Saturday. My brother and I arrived in Baltimore late in the morning and Parking Panda was clutch in scoring a good garage at a decent price. Those that haven’t been, make it a future destination as I just love the Inner Harbor. Even if it’s not to see an attraction, grab a seat and watch a street performer on the weekend. We did do some paid stuff in the form of the Historic Ships and the Observation Deck. Both awesome. For the ships, if you are short on time, go with the Constellation and the Torsk (the submarine). For lunch, we took a walk to Little Italy and had a filling meal at Cafe Gia with a pastry at Vaccaro’s.

The first stadium visit was about 20 minutes north in Towson, where the FCS Tigers took on Villanova. We arrived to a pretty crappy parking situation as the stadium lots were full 45 minutes before game time, that led us to a garage a good distance from Johnny Unitas Stadium. And this was just with the place at a quarter of the capacity! Inside, the stadium is built in a hill, offering a neat perspective. They made a lot of renovations not too long ago and that has made the concourse, food options and displays pretty decent. For detail, check out the review coming later in the week. Seating is just ehh as it is mostly sideline bleachers that are distanced because of a track. The Tigers struggled in what was a real sloppy game that featured 7 total turnovers. Villanova capitalized on a couple in their end during the second half and those scores led to a 24-9 victory. One of the highlights at Unitas Stadium is the Towson Marching Band, who put on a great show and entertained with plenty of numbers during the game.

Sunday we woke up to brilliant sunshine, which remained with us all day. M&T Bank Stadium is near downtown and since we weren’t tailgating, it was super clutch to get a $10 lot in the city and walk a mile to the game. It also allowed for a cost effective, easy exit. We got there quite early to do the Ravens Walk, which is a great pathway to the stadium along Eutaw Street that features entertainment, freebies and food. While Eric immersed himself in the swag, I walked the stadium with an exterior look including the two statues (Johnny Unitas and Ray Lewis). Inside, nothing really set the stadium apart, except for the purple seats. The design is fine, but I don’t like the upper-deck because of the non-continuous flow thanks to the awkward corners, plus they are high and far due to the double-decked suites below. What I did really love was Baltimore’s Marching Ravens. One of only two NFL teams with a band, I did my homework a few nights earlier and watched the wonderful 30 for 30 on their history dating back to the Colts era. Terrific story and the band did not disappoint in their performances. Those that did disappoint were the Ravens, who were abysmal in this one as they went down to the Steelers, 26-9. It wasn’t a good day for the fans either and while I still genuinely think that Baltimore has a great fan base, they did not look good. There were a surprising number of empty seats for a rivalry game on a perfect day and my eyeball count put the stands at 85% capacity. Then, we had the pregame debacle. To set the stage, the PA said something to the effect of the team would like a moment for prayer to reflect on equality. The fans cheered. Then the Ravens took a knee. The crowd booed. Loudly. The Ravens then stood back up and all stood before the anthem played. I am not here to get all political and I understand the sensitivity of the issue, but I sincerely hope that those booing fans just weren’t paying attention to the announcement and THOUGHT they were kneeling through the anthem. If that was not their thought, then yikes. Listening to conversations within my section, I heard no remorse for the booing, misdirected or not.

So for the second year in a row, social issues overshadowed a football game I attended. These intersections between Sports and Real World are certainly understandable and as I completely understand why it happens and hope that whatever issues occur lead to awareness and progress towards change to the good, I continue to follow sports and make sports trips as a distraction to real life. Life is hard and especially after not getting the horrors of what happened in Las Vegas last night out of my head, we all need an outlet to block out the stresses of life. Sports and travel do that for me and after 16 years of hitting the road to see a game, it will continue to be an outlet as long as I can do so.

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Football in the Charm City

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 25, 2017

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We’re back! It’s been awhile, but we are hitting the road this weekend after what has been a personally busy summer. My brother will be joining me on this trip as we will be heading southward to a pair of games in Maryland. I’m very thankful this heat wave will be ending as both days will feature afternoon activity in the outdoors. On Saturday, we’ll spend time at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore before heading to the suburb of Towson for an evening contest between the Tigers and Villanova at Johnny Unitas Stadium. On Sunday, we’re back into Baltimore, where we are pumped for a divisional battle between the Ravens and Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium. That game is a 1 PM start and we’ll head back home afterwards. The Charm City is a great place to spend the weekend and it will be fun to check it out again along with sampling more of their sports scene. These will be my only football games of the year, so I’m hoping for close games and good stadium experiences. Back next week for a wrap-up!
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2017 Football Stadium Updates

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 3, 2017

Colorado State’s new on-campus stadium (photo from Andy Cross at The Denver Post)

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This was a busy offseason for the NFL as we will see two teams debut at a new facility this season. The first is a move into an existing stadium as the Chargers head to the Stubhub Center, a soccer-specific stadium in Carson, CA that is home to the LA Galaxy. There are a number of things that make this unusual, the most glaring being the size. Stubhub is a terrific soccer complex, but it only holds 27,000, which is way below NFL standards. A move to smaller college stadiums is not unusual when a new stadium or renovation is done (see Minnesota, Chicago and Tennessee), it’s just that we haven’t seen the capacity that small before. This is also going to be their temporary home for at least three seasons. Finally, what kind of fan base will we see, especially considering that LA gets their second team in as many seasons and that the market solidly grew on the college side with resurgent USC and to a lesser extent, UCLA. On the other end of the country, we have a stadium opening that is less messy as the Falcons move into Mercedes-Benz Stadium. This replaces the 25-year old (that’s right) Georgia Dome and the new $1.6 billion stadium has made quite an impression thus far. The video screens add a Jerry Jones level of showy uniqueness and though this stadium adds to those where home-field advantage and noise are all but gone, it certainly is an intriguing stadium for fans and aficionados alike.

In College Football, there are two new stadium openings. First, in Fort Collins, we have CSU Stadium, oh wait I’m sorry, “On-Campus Stadium”. I know that they haven’t found a naming rights deal, but you think they could at least come up with a temporary name instead of their literature that just labels it “On-Campus Stadium”. Anyway, this stadium is indeed within CSU as opposed to far-flung Hughes Stadium and the Rams made their highly anticipated debut on August 26th.  The other new one is from FCS. We saw East Tennessee State return to football last year, now, they have a stadium to go along with it as William B. Greene Jr. Stadium is completed. It holds 7,694 and that means it falls just shy of making it onto The List. Another program that has made a comeback is UAB and while their hiatus was brief, many in Birmingham are celebrating their return to Legion Field. Other notes include the expansion of Brooks Stadium as Coastal Carolina makes the transition to the FBS level and the interesting venue switch by Georgia State as they take over former Turner Field. What a versatile place that has turned out to be as it hosted the Olympics, baseball and now football. The layout still looks baseball-y, but improvements over the coming years will turn it into more of a Panthers home.

 

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Games during the Eclipse

Posted by Sean Rowland on August 19, 2017

Solar Eclipse (photo from NASA) and Volcanoes Stadium

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At the risk of the internet exploding in the United States with Solar Eclipse stuff, there is a stadium aspect to this as many teams in cities along the path of full totality are planning some pretty cool events that coincide with a game. I’m sure most have their plans already set, but for those flexible, consider a trip to one of these ballparks while watching a pretty incredible spectacle:

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Salem, Oregon  –  Volcanoes Stadium  –  Game Time: 9:35 AM  –  Totality: 10:17 AM

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I’ve been to this ballpark and while it is not a great one, they do have a nice event plan for the morning. Also, the capital of Oregon is a cool place to visit. 
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Lincoln, Nebraska  –  Haymarket Park  –  Game Time: 12:00 PM  –  Totality: 1:02 PM
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Free glasses to the first 3,500! Perfect for the procrastinators
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Nashville, Tennessee  –  First Tennessee Park  –  Game Time: 4:00 PM  –  Totality: 1:27 PM
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This is the one I recommend the most. Awesome city, new ballpark and events that include a concert and kids activities during the viewing party
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Greenville, South Carolina  –  Fluor Field  –  Game Time: 1:05 PM  –  Totality: 2:38 PM
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The Palmetto State will see a huge influx of visitors from the East Coast and luck is on their side in the sports world with three different options. Underrated Upstate is a fine place to attend and people will be surprised at how nice Greenville’s downtown is.
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Columbia, South Carolina  –  Spirit Communications Park  –  Game Time: 1:05 PM  –  Totality: 2:41 PM
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Similar to Nashville, ballpark travelers can add this relatively new one to the list while visiting the capital
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Charleston, South Carolina  –  Riley Park  –  Game Time: 4:05 PM  –  Totality: 2:46 PM
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The only one in South Carolina that won’t have the eclipse during the game, but Lowcountry is arguably the best destination for tourists.

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Opening Football Weekend Road Trip Ideas

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 30, 2017

Beaver Stadium is just one of the stadium options on an Opening Weekend with plenty of road trip possibilities

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It’s getting close to that time again! This country is made up of football crazies and that is especially true of the college game, where many fanbases follow a spring scrimmage like it was a real game. We’re less than a month away from the start of the FBS season and it all begins in Fort Collins, CO as the Colorado State Rams open a brand new stadium against Oregon State. The best time of year to travel and catch multiple games is Week 1 because there are many Thursday and Friday contests that set-up a nice three day trip. Here are a few that I put together worth going for:

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1) West Coast Swing
Thu, Aug 31 at 8:30 PM……New Mexico State at Arizona State
Sat, Sept 2 at 2:15 PM……Western Michigan at USC
Sun, Sept 3 at 4:30 PM……Texas A&M at UCLA
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Start off in the Desert where hopefully the temperature has dropped below 100 degrees by the time the ball is kicked at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. Friday is a travel day, but with the drive only 5 hours to LA there are plenty of options to spend the rest of the time (Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs, Disneyland). Then enjoy a pretty solid doubleheader weekend as USC plays Saturday and the Bruins host a big one against Texas A&M on Sunday.
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2) All Michigan
Thu, Aug 31 at 7:00 PM……Rhode Island at Central Michigan
Fri, Sept 1 at 6:30 PM……Charlotte at Eastern Michigan
Sat, Sept 2 at 12:00 PM……Bowling Green at Michigan State
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The shortest trip is this one as total driving time between games is just three hours. Lots of MACation here as each contest features a member of that conference. For multi-sport lovers, I recommend sticking around in Lansing on Saturday as the Lugnuts play a baseball game in the evening.
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3) Underrated Stadium Experiences
Thu, Aug 31 at 7:30 PM……Holy Cross at Connecticut
Fri, Sept 1 at 8:00 PM……Washington at Rutgers
Sat, Sept 2 at 12:00 PM……Akron at Penn State
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Having been to all three stadiums, this trip is much better than it looks on paper. Rentschler Field is a great facility that scores well in most categories. Rutgers has a remarkably dedicated fan base considering how many horrible years they have had on average in the last 30. They should at least have the place rocking in the beginning of that Friday Night game. Finally, Happy Valley is all that it is cracked to be.
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Bucket List – Ballparks

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 9, 2017

While in the area for a Mets or Yankees, make sure to stop by Brooklyn for a game

 

Back in the winter, I did a series of posts on Bucket List Stadiums for Football, Basketball and Hockey. The time wasn’t right for Baseball, but now that we are in the middle of summer, it certainly is. Ballparks are the genre that attracts the most amount of stadium road trippers as that group exceeds all the other sports combined. Warm weather and nostalgia are likely reasons why, but the main one is that baseball has a different type of fan. There are several people I know that love baseball dearly and pay little attention to all other sports. For me, while I certainly enjoy a ballpark visit, the length and dullness of the games put the watching of the sport live much lower than the other ones. There are still some beauties out there though that I love to see…

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Alex Box Stadium – LSU Tigers:  If you watched the College World Series this year, you’ll know why. Home of some of the best fans in college baseball, though the fans from two lines down may argue this.
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AT&T Stadium – San Francisco Giants:  Picturesque ballpark with right-field on the waterfront. Great support too as crowds haven’t waned even when the Giants do poorly (which can’t be said for many other MLB teams).
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Baum Stadium – Arkansas Razorbacks:  Similarly crazy passionate fan base to LSU. Those that get bored at times with baseball (like me), certainly won’t be so at a Hogs game. Lots of fun.
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BB&T Ballpark – Charlotte Knights:  Wonderful new ballpark in downtown Charlotte that has a major-league feel in miniature form.
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Blue Wahoos Stadium – Pensacola Blue Wahoos:  The design is basic, but it is the view and location that makes this bucket list worthy. Great spot right on the Bay and near the center of the city.
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Camden Yards – Baltimore Orioles:  The ballpark that changed sports stadiums forever. It still stands the test of time 25 years later.
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Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles Dodgers:  Janet Marie Smith is in the process of working her magic here.
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Doug Kingsmore Stadium – Clemson Tigers:  Aesthetically beautiful with a great design on a pleasant campus in Upstate South Carolina. Clemson is hot right now on the sports scene and expect to see a lot of orange.
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Dudy Noble Field – Mississippi State Bulldogs:  The biggest on-campus stadium in college baseball is known for their Left Field Lounge, a tailgating and in-game experience like no other in the sport.
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Fenway Park – Boston Red Sox:  An icon that has wonderfully moved into the 21st century.
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Frontier Field – Rochester Red Wings:  Best food in the minors! I got spoiled coming here often growing up in Rochester. Food certainly has stepped up in the last dozen years, but nothing comes close to the variety and quality at Frontier.
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Grayson Stadium – Savannah Bananas:  Thank you Summer-Collegiate Leagues for saving this ballpark. An absolute classic built in 1926. I love the ceiling fans underneath the overhang!
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Huntington Park – Columbus Clippers:  Great ballpark in a great city and a great neighborhood (the Arena District).
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McCoy Stadium – Pawtucket Red Sox:  Enjoy it while you can as Red Sox owners plot their move. Not many like these are left at the affiliated minor-league level.
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MCU Park – Brooklyn Cyclones:  Coney Island and the Atlantic Ocean are within a view of this ballpark, which you will be hard pressed to find one that fits in better with a neighborhood
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Modern Woodmen Park – Quad Cities River Bandits:  Right along the Mississippi River. Seriously, right on it, as in they have flooded multiple times. Not a fan of how the place has become a circus with the addition of a Ferris Wheel, but the setting is picturesque.
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Parkview Field – Fort Wayne Tin Caps:  Often a winner in Stadium Journey‘s “Best Ballpark”, this is a success story in terms of downtown development because of a ballpark.
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PNC Park – Pittsburgh Pirates:  Everything about this ballpark is done right. And for a fan of city skylines, this one is right up my alley.
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Riverwalk Stadium – Montgomery Biscuits:  Many ballparks go with the train theme, but none do it better than Montgomery. The stadium makes use of a pre-existing train shed for the exterior.
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Regions Field – Birmingham Barons:  Excellent use of a city’s history with the incorporation of steel in the design elements.
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Smith’s Ballpark – Salt Lake Bees:  Just look at that View!!!
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Target Field – Minnesota Twins:  All the new ballparks built within the last 10 years are great, but this one stands out above the rest.
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TD Ameritrade Park – College World Series:  Only because of the event it hosts. This is an otherwise soul-less ballpark that replaced a stadium still dearly missed (Rosenblatt). Thanks, NCAA
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UPMC Park – Erie Seawolves:  A neat park where tight confines dictated the design, leading to a completely different third base side from the first base one. Well worth going to the latter side and sitting in the upper deck.
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Wahconah Park – Pittsfield Suns:  One of the very few remaining with a wooden grandstand.
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Wrigley Field – Chicago Cubs:  The video boards and advertising somewhat take away from what was a unique professional sports experience in North America. Still an incredible ballpark and experience.
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The Alouettes and their Spectacular Home

Posted by Sean Rowland on June 24, 2017


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My third visit to the beautiful city of Montreal was the first one that came with pleasant weather, quite welcomed for such a walking city. We were in town for the SIMA Symposium, where we exhibited at the Trade Show and participated in a few other events. Each evening we were able to enjoy Old Montreal and Crescent Street, while Thursday afforded us a bit more free time late in the day. After checking out the historic campus at McGill University and the nearby McCord Museum, I got ready to hop on a shuttle bus to Percival Molson Memorial Stadium as the CFL scheduling powers were on my side with the Alouettes playing their home opener at night. The bus had some issues both to (it was late) and fro (it didn’t make two scheduled stops), but otherwise this was a fantastic experience at a historic stadium that aesthetically became one of my favorites.

Molson Stadium sits on the eastern slope of Mount Royal, thus setting up a spectacular setting. From one sideline, fans have a backdrop that includes downtown Montreal and the “Plateau” neighborhood. From the other side, the mountain looms over the stadium, along with the historic campus buildings. A steep set of sideline seats provides terrific sightlines and the end zones have their own unique seating, especially on the south end where it is occupied by the Neurological Hospital. In front is a row of beer tents that make for a good spot to socialize and watch the game. Renovations added historical displays to the western end of the building and there is indeed plenty of history here…over 100 years worth! Frequent readers of this site know how much I love old stadiums and the incorporation of old and new in combination with the beautiful setting make Molson Stadium a must visit.

The crowd was lively and it was festive atmosphere throughout as there was a lot of singing and dancing with the music on the PA. The wave made an appearance as well. I am new to the CFL and for those not familiar, the primary differences from the American game are: Three Downs (instead of 4), goal posts at the front of a larger endzone, 1 point if a kicked ball is not returned from the endzone and orange penalty flags. I had a hard time getting used to the 3 downs and it really slowed the game down. It took awhile for a score as it was not until late in the 2nd when Montreal got on the board thanks to a 65 yard pass from Darian Durant, the former QB of their opponent Saskatchewan. The game got good at the end and the Al’s took the lead with an 18-yard field goal with just under 3 minutes remaining. The Riders drove back down and did what drives me nuts in all levels of football…settle for a mid-long range field goal. They easily could have ran 2-3 more plays, but instead, let the clock run down to attempt a 45 yard field goal. I was glad to see them punished as it missed and Montreal was victorious, ending a great stadium visit. Look for a detailed stadium review next week.

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