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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2016-2017 Basketball Arena Updates

Posted by Sean Rowland on December 2, 2016

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In the world of basketball this season, years of anxiety have finally disappeared in Sacramento as the Kings move in to their new digs, ensuring that they will remain in Sactown for years to come. The arena formerly known as Arco has given way to the Golden1 Center, a facility right in the middle of downtown. This new arena continues the trend for California stadiums to lead the way in technological design, both inside and out. By all accounts, it seems like AECOM did a terrific job as the first few months have been received well, though a couple people falling on the stairs in the upper deck is not good. With the Kings now in Golden1, it looks like the days of functional arenas built in the 70s and 80s is just about over as Milwaukee and Detroit are soon to depart as well. Moving down to the D-League, more NBA affiliations come on board as the Long Island Nets and Windy City Bulls debut this season. If you read this site enough, you’ll know how much I loathe those moves. The Bulls at least will be at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, while the Nets will probably play in front of 137 people at Barclays. A little better is the arrival of the Greensboro Swarm and even though the colors/nickname have nothing to do with Greensboro and everything to do with the Hornets, at least they are in another city. The Swarm will play in the Greensboro Coliseum. A couple of team moves: Utah’s affiliate in Idaho has gone to team headquarters as they set-up shop in the Salt Lake City area, specifically the 5,000-seat arena at the Community College in Taylorsville. Lastly, a relocation I do like is the one that involves Bakersfield as the Jam (who played in what looked like a YMCA gym) have gone to Prescott Valley and a legit minor-league arena. The name could use work: Northern Arizona Suns. Argh, why is it only baseball that embraces local community!

In College Basketball…Well, Hello Dakotas! The two new arenas opening this year come to us from the Northern Plains and both are significant upgrades. In Fargo, North Dakota State University moves in to a new basketball home for the Bison: The Scheels Center (not to be confused with the city’s main indoor facility: Scheels Arena, where the Fargo Force plays). It’s nice, but it does feature telescopic seating. Pictures seem to indicate that the new Sanford Coyote Sports Center at the University of South Dakota has a nicer interior as there is plenty of red school color with the permanent seating in what looks like an intimate seating design close to the court. There were some arena renovations this year as well, most notable is a place that is an icon in the sport: Indiana’s Assembly Hall. A $40 million gift from Cindy Simon Skjodt led to needed renovations and designers did a terrific job of focus efforts on maintaining the remarkable atmosphere and seating, while still producing upgrades. Their focus on that preservation is evident, while their upgrades include a beautiful new lobby/atrium that highlights Hoosier history. Great job treating one of the special and unique places in the sport with care. Other renovations debuting this season occur at Florida’s O’Connell Center and at the Cajundome down at Louisiana-Lafayette.

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A Harrowing Season Change

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 21, 2016

Schoellkopf Field Exterior

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This was a rare stadium trip that I was not looking forward to with my usual full enthusiasm for two reasons. First, I broke my finger playing football (Mallet Finger with a detached bone to be more precise), so the throbbing and annoyance of a splint along with the anxiety of an approaching hand specialist visit didn’t have me in the best of moods. Second, the beautiful weather was going to rapidly give way to snow and I feared for the drive back thru the Poconos. With that as a background, my journey up to Ithaca in the morning was delightful and I arrived at the Hoy Road garage a little early to do some exploring on the beautiful Cornell campus. Temperatures were in the 60s as I went with short-sleeves and I took a stroll to the Cascadilla Trail, where you could see why “Ithaca is Gorges”. I’ve been to Schoellkopf Field before, so I wasn’t in a hurry to get back and it was right at kickoff when I settled into my seat on the Crescent. This is one of my least favorite Ivy stadiums, but the view is at least a highlight. Interestingly, Cornell removed the stands from the visitor sideline because of “disrepair and lack of use”. Amazing that a school with such a huge endowment can’t put up some basic bleachers for the visitor side. Another huge boo goes to the concessions, of which there are just two stands and I missed nearly the entire second quarter by waiting 35 minutes for a sausage. Not a fan of this stadium. In the game, Penn took care of the Big Red 42-20 to give the Quakers a share of the Ivy title.

I’ve yet to walk thru much of Cornell’s campus, so seeing that this was not an official stadium visit and the game was well in hand, I headed out a bit early for another stroll. The grounds at Cornell are terrific and I particularly loved the central part of campus that included McGraw Tower, Uris Library and plenty of historical buildings with a few statues. Even better is the proximity to another gorge as the suspension bridge over Falls Creek is a must see. About this time, the temperature dropped 10 degrees as a cold front passed and the winds picked up…a quick reminder of the challenge ahead of me at the end of the journey. I hustled back to the car for one more stop before downtown. This one was to see Ithaca Falls, an amazing waterfall where I would have loved to relax at for more than a few minutes. I then drove into the center of Ithaca via their wacky, hilly streets and grabbed dinner at Red’s Place, one of many decent options.
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Lynah Rink Interior
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The main attraction for the trip was Lynah Rink, which would be Stadium #178. College hockey arenas have a reputation of being old-school and bare-bones and this was no different. I’ve been to so many minor-league arenas that it is refreshing to see a rink like this, though it does have some issues like the low hanging wood/duct work from the roof and the occasionally poor sightlines in various spots. It’s very hard to believe that the arena holds over 4,000 seats, but Cornell is quite precise in their media guide capacity. I’ve heard a lot about the Lynah Faithful over the years and the intimacy of the rink helps to make it a loud place. The fans indeed had traditional chants and cheers, making this a fun event to attend (but one that did not meet the hype, see the review for more on that). The Big Red did their part too, despite a poor start against perennially lowly Princeton. Cornell dug themselves out of a 2-0 hole and a third period comeback resulted in a 4-2 victory. Check out the full review, which will be posted on the right column in the coming days.

After the final whistle, I stepped outside to big, fat, sloppy snowflakes. Unfortunately a change from rain to heavy snow was going to last just a 4-hour period that aligned precisely with my drive home. I knew there would be a couple trouble spots: Route 79 from Ithaca to Whitney Point and the dreaded Poconos. With the elevation display on my GPS on, I headed out and got thru the first long stretch on the nervy two-lane road ok. After fighting off hallucinations while driving thru the constant steady snow that made it feel like it was “Star Wars”, road conditions were fine until the Scranton area, where coverage even at an elevation of 900 feet meant big trouble for the rise up to 1900′ in the Poconos. They had a solid 2-4″ with much of that on the roads and thankfully my wife’s Hyundai Santa Fe handled it ok at 25-30 MPH. That meant a white-knuckle hour before coming down the hill and seeing improving conditions. Even still, I was shocked at how hard it snowed and stuck when going thru NJ as my stomach dropping knowing our forecast for work did not go well at all. Four hours later, at 1:30 AM, I instead drove straight to work with jello-ie legs from the ride for a status check on how we were making out. The night didn’t end until I climbed into bed at 3 AM and as much as I enjoyed both Ithaca and Cornell hockey, it was a memorable trip for the wrong reasons. That’s the last time I make a journey with prospects of snow…..wait, didn’t I say that before?
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Back to Cornell

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 16, 2016

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For the second time in less than a year, I’m heading to gorges Ithaca, NY for a stadium and while last March was a re-visit to see basketball, this trip includes a new stadium. I have yet to visit Lynah Rink for a Cornell Hockey game and that is the plan for the visit this Saturday as the Big Red takes on Princeton. I’m excited to experience the Lynah Faithful as I’ve heard a lot of good things. Now Ithaca is a lengthy 3 hour drive from my location in Jersey, so it’s hard to justify spending more time in the car than in the destination, thus, I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to pair up hockey with football so that this becomes an all-day event. The schedule makers made it happen as Cornell takes on Penn at Noon in what will be my second visit to Schoellkopf Field. This is likely the final stadium trip of 2016 and it will be a productive year with 11 new venues visited. Back next week with a wrap-up of Cornell Hockey!
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Team USA and their strange inclusion in the USHL

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 5, 2016

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A few months ago, when I was planning a sports trip to Michigan, we had a free evening to potentially find another event to attend. Before ultimately settling on Michigan Volleyball, I looked into attending a USHL game in Plymouth. This was not any old team we would be seeing, instead it would be “Team USA”, a moniker that certainly sticks out in a Standings full of Midwestern city names. I’ve always been curious what this Team USA was all about whenever I stumbled across the league, but never took the time to dive in until now. The whole idea and concept of this team seemed sketchy to me and further reading does not change my mind.

The NTDP part of Team USA stands for National Team Development Program. USA Hockey essentially scouts and recruits what they feel are the best teenage hockey players in the country. Those that join go to school with them where they learn off the ice and on it, in efforts to groom them for the world stage. US Hockey has an Under-17 team and an Under-18 team, both of which play exhibitions against NCAA teams and National Teams, along with playing against competition in the USHL. After initially having a home base in Ann Arbor for years, the program recently took over the former home of the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers and the 3,500-seat Compuware Arena is now known as USA Hockey Arena. The USHL is a junior league, with similar teams made up of young amateurs. Despite a mix of U17 and U18 teams playing, their results make up a schedule that puts them under one “Team USA” squad. The whole thing feels wrong already because you would think this is an all-star team. While that may be the case, they certainly don’t play like one as Team USA has never won a league title and has not had a winning record in the last six seasons.

That brings up another concern…if the team is not winning, is US Hockey successful in their program?. A follow-up is how much money does US Hockey put into the program? These are questions that I can’t answer, but thankfully someone has asked them. For more interest, I encourage you to check out Kevin Hartzell at Letsplayhockey.com as he thoughtfully broke down the US NTDP situation and asked questions of the program. There are three articles on the subject (towards the bottom) and if you are interested, they are well worth the read as Kevin did a great job. My initial feeling of not liking a Team USA in the USHL has not changed after digging deeper and reading Kevin’s insight and questions on the program.

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Welcome to the Land of D3 Football

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 24, 2016

Shriver Stadium Interior.

In my Guide to finding stadiums and arenas to visit, there is a seating capacity requirement. This is in place to try and weed out facilities that are just comprised of sets of bleachers and not really a “Stadium”. It generally works, but it is inevitable to run into some bare-bones facilities, especially in the world of football. Enter the visit I had this weekend, where we added Eunice Kennedy Shriver Stadium to the completed list at the College of Brockport. The school is one of 40 Division II or III football teams that have a stadium on The List and while the capacity of these select 40 are around many teams at the FCS level, the “Stadium” is much simpler. That’s not to say there aren’t any nice ones in D3 (check out Mary Hardin-Baylor, Linfield and Cortland), it’s just that this one was not it. 

It was cold and windy in the Rochester area, especially given the 80-degree weather just a few days earlier, thus making the wind all the more biting. I layered up with winter clothing and after driving through the pleasant village main street, I arrived on campus about 30 minutes before kickoff. While growing up in the region, I’ve been to the college a couple times, for things I don’t remember, but this was my first football game. In 1979, Brockport hosted the Special Olympics, a fact that surprises many when hearing it for the first time. It was a wonderful, grand event and it resulted in the current stadium which was renamed from “Special Olympics Stadium” to “Eunice Kennedy Shriver Stadium”, in honor of the woman who founded the organization. There are also two remarkable sculptures on campus in honor of the games and these are not far from the parking lot, so I checked them out before heading in. They are impressive works and these gifts from a Soviet artist in the late 70s is a rare happy story during the Cold War. 

Brockport’s stadium is touted as the largest in D3, but it is no more than just a significant amount of basic metal bleachers. It was homecoming and despite the crappy weather, a decent amount of people were on hand and the attendance number of 2,592 seemed accurate. They were treated to a decent affair between the Golden Eagles and Cortland. Brockport took a 14-13 lead into halftime and they extended it half-way through the third quarter when Nate Wilkinson made a ridiculous lay-out dive to catch a 46-yard pass in the end zone. It was a thing of beauty. The lead held up until Cortland finally put a drive together and they scored with 2:37 play to make it 21-19. With the crowd stomping the bleachers and raising the noise level, the defense made the stop on the two-point conversion and Brockport hung on for the win. The weather may have made things uncomfortable, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching a football game with zero media timeouts. It took 2:45 to play, which is about 30-45 minutes shorter than the agonizing FBS games, which I don’t know how more is not made of the slowness of those games. Anyway, congrats to Brockport. Numbers-wise for me that was: Stadium #177, Football Stadium #32 and Non-Division I Stadium #2 (Hersheypark Stadium was the other)

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2016-2017 Hockey Arenas Update

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 17, 2016

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Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton, AB (photo from The Edmonton Journal, taken by Jason Franson, The Canadian Press)

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With all of the major hockey leagues having started their season, it’s that time of year where we take a look at what’s different in the arena world. The most significant update comes from Oil Country, where Edmonton opens Rogers Place after saying goodbye to their home in Northlands earlier this year. It certainly is a big difference in arenas and aside from typical opening-night issues, it seems fans really like the place. Of course, the building didn’t come without funding controversy and the downtown location has a few issues like lack of parking. But bringing people into the city as part of a huge development looks like a mostly big positive.  The true test I care about will be the playoff atmosphere as the old Northlands Coliseum was deafening (forward to 6:28) and I hope (but doubt) the new joint comes close. For a great recap of the entire process for Edmonton getting a downtown arena, check out this recap from the Edmonton Journal. In other NHL news, Buffalo has a new arena name for the umpteenth time. Maybe they should consider avoiding naming rights deals with banks? Also, Pittsburgh’s arena has been changed after just a few years as we now are supposed to call it PPG Paints Arena.

In the AHL, the march westward continues as NHL teams push to be closer to their affiliate, even at the expense of balanced competition. The Springfield franchise was sold to Tucson and while this may seem ridiculous from a fan support aspect, keep in mind that Springfield had horrible attendance in recent years. The Roadrunners (love that nickname) will be playing in a renovated Tucson Arena as we welcome that facility to The List for the first time. The arena is located within a larger convention center complex and it will seat 7,440. As for Springfield, one of the AHL’s oldest locations and the home to league offices, they will indeed have a team as the Portland franchise relocates to Western Mass. Hard to imagine the AHL without Maine, but that will be the case this season. In what should be a lesson to idiot city/state governments: they just spent nearly $30 million on renovations to Cross Insurance Arena and now, their primary tenant is gone with 25-35 open dates now on the calendar. Portland is trying to get an ECHL team for next season, but that has not happened yet. Elsewhere, the Calder Cup Champions changed their name as the Monsters are now Cleveland and not Lake Erie. Good Move. 

Down in the lower leagues, the Evansville IceMen are in limbo as their potential move to a renovated Sportscenter in Owensboro, KY did not work out. The Ford Center will still have hockey, but it will be in the SPHL as the Thunderbirds begin play in Evansville. That leaves 27 teams in the ECHL, with Worcester coming next season (and the small chance for Portland). The league still has some work to do in order for it to be truly AA with an affiliate to each NHL squad. Back to the SPHL, also joining with a very 1990s nickname is the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs. It’s been awhile since we’ve had Roanoke’s arena (Berglund Center) on The List, but we welcome it back with open arms as the city has another stint with professional hockey. Folding from league is the Louisiana IceGators.

We do have a couple of arenas to say goodbye to and the first has seen their fair share of minor league hockey teams through the years. Dayton’s Hara Arena has closed its doors after several decades and that forces the Demolition of the FHL to fold. Hara was unique in that it was privately owned and an apparent estate dispute led to the arena’s closure. Also, sad to see Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum no longer have a sports tenant. After the Canucks moved to Rogers Arena in 1995, the Coliseum remained active and the WHL’s Giants began play there in 2001. It remained home of junior hockey for 15 years until this season when the Giants moved out to the suburbs for play in the Langley Events Center. The move makes sense with a modern facility that fits the WHL much better, still it is sad not to see the old Pacific Coliseum in use. Whenever I hear that name, I immediately think of Pavel Bure and that gold, flying skate logoNot all is sad however, as there is a very old friend we say hello to once again. In Shreveport, historic Hirsch Coliseum has received a facelift. The work done was enough to get the arena in working order again to get the Mudbugs back and they are indeed playing hockey in ArkLaTex again, this time as part of the NAHL.  

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2016 College Stadiums Update

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 6, 2016

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Notre Dame Stadium’s simplistic look is in the process of changing

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Before we get to the Big Boys, let’s talk about FCS, which is the only level of DI football to see a new stadium. Many don’t think of New Hampshire when it comes to football, but this is a program that has been consistently good. They’ve made the playoffs ten straight years, narrowly missing out on the championship game in 2014. They finally have a facility to match the program as Wildcat Stadium replaces Cowell Stadium, which was basically on the same site. Even though there is still an annoying track on the outside of the field, the new stadium is a vast improvement over the basic, dull facility that the Wildcats played in for decades. Another school to open a stadium this season on or near the same site as the prior one, is South Dakota State University. The Jackrabbits say hello to the 19,340-seat Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium and this one (unlike UNH) does not have a track. Thus, beautiful sightlines accompany new amenities and it is indeed a great stadium. The final new opening is a surprise in that this is the second SWAC football stadium to open in the last five years as Panther Stadium is the new home for Prairie View A&M football. I’m typically nostalgic and sad to see older facilities leave, but when it comes to football stadiums at the FCS Level, they are often basic and lack character, so there’s not many tears shed when older ones depart.

For the Power 5 schools, we have several renovations. Most notably is Notre Dame, which had the most pure stadium experience in the sport. Now, we will see large buildings or towers on three of the sides to accommodate premium seating, plus there will eventually be a giant video scoreboard. I guess we were all prepped for the change when the plain natural grass field was replaced with turf and an ND logo a couple years ago. A sad goodbye to the last remaining big time stadium that still resembled a place of older times. Other schools making changes include Kansas State, Oklahoma and Arizona State. The new trend that will really be noticeable in the upcoming years: The end of the numbers game. Teams used to try and have the highest seating capacity to boast their stadium is “biggest”. Look for that to end as schools sacrifice seats for club and luxury space, all in the name of the dollar bill.

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The Factory, The Big House and The Former Ralph

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 26, 2016

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The trip to Michigan began early on a Friday Morning and I mean early as we were out before the sun was. We took a route that included Canada and it worked well with very minimal border delays in Lewiston and Sarnia. The early start was so we could spend the afternoon in Ann Arbor, in addition to grabbing lunch with Stadium Journey founder Paul Swaney. It was great to catch up and after we parted, a long walk around downtown and campus quickly burned off the duck sandwich I had. Both were awesome as A2 has a terrific downtown full of local restaurants and establishments, while the University of Michigan has a campus featuring several sights to check out. The Law School Quad, the Cube and the Library were among our pit stops, as was Pinball Pete’s, where I smoked my brother in multiple gaming challenges.
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From there, we made the 20 minute drive down Washtenaw Ave to Ypsilanti and Eastern Michigan University. First, we had to stop for a close-up look at the Water Tower, which looks like, well, you decide for yourself. Some locals describe Ypsi as the Brooklyn to Ann Arbor’s Manhattan and while I’m not sure that analogy works, I get it. We took a quick drive downtown and then went to the small couple block section of Depot Town, a popular area for an evening dinner. That’s all I would recommend because after a drink at the Sidetrack Bar & Grill, we walked down to the park (still in the daylight) along the Huron River, only to sift through sketchy characters and a plume of weed. The EMU game against Wyoming began at 7:30 PM and we were there early enough for a stadium tour and pictures. It’s a basic facility that is very typical of the MAC and the Eagles try to make themselves stand out from their big brother 20 minutes away by having a gray field and playing up The Factory theme. I could certainly do without that field color, but the rest of it was good and I applaud EMU efforts to draw fans. It wasn’t a big crowd for this Friday Night game, but they were noisy and showed great resiliency in their cheering as the team toyed with their emotions. The Eagles came back from a 17-3 deficit and eventually took a 20-17 lead when their QB threw the most egregious interception I have every seen, right to a Cowboy who walked in for a TD, giving Wyoming the lead back with 12 minutes to play. Given Eastern Michigan’s 7-41 record the last four seasons, you can’t fault many in thinking it was over. Not-so-fast-my-friends. Backup Brogan Roback stepped in and led the home side to a game-winning touchdown with less than a minute left. The Eagles went on to enjoy their first home win against an FBS school in nearly two years. The fans, who were eager to salute their team, didn’t get to do so as the players quickly exited to the locker room when a large group of protesters moved on to the field after the final whistle. It was certainly an overlying story during the game and it became the main talking point immediately after. Problems on campus led to the peaceful protest and while I won’t elaborate or get into social issues/politics here, but you can read more elsewhere and for those that saw the game on the CBS Sports Network, I heard that the crew did a terrific job covering the why’s of what was going on.
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Saturday was Michigan football day and with the game starting at 3:30 PM, plus College Football games taking forever, this would be a day long event. No complaints here as it was awesome to be in Ann Arbor and Michigan Stadium on game day. From our hotel, we got into town around 11 AM and the $20 Hill Street garage was a solid parking choice that served us well (though it was a close call as maybe 40 spots were left when we arrived). It was nearly a mile walk to the stadium, but that was fine as we got to sample the pre-game festivities and parties going on during a beautiful morning. After pictures of both the stadium and Michigan’s other athletic facilities, we went to the Football Museum in Schembechler Hall. Recently re-done, this is a must for anyone visiting as it is doable in an hour and quite enjoyable. Michigan Stadium has a nice looking brick exterior from the renovations that redid the concourse and side towers, then inside is a stadium better than a bowl as it fits the shape of a football field very well. Large and simplistic, the stadium quickly fills up with over 110,000 wearing the Maize and Blue, making for a wonderful sight that makes college football the most eye-catching of sports. Despite the late September sun beating down, I had goosebumps with their own goosebumps when the marching band came out, then the famous M Club sign and finally the football team. I may have grown up as a Syracuse fan, but Michigan was on TV a lot when I was a kid and that catchy Victors fight song was always in my head on football Saturday’s. Hearing that in person along with the “Let’s Go Blue” song was amazing. As for the game, Michigan laid the smackdown on Penn State as they quickly jumped out to a 21-0 lead and the total yardage was laughable at the end of the first quarter. The game quickly turned into an FCS-like blowout and Michigan won 49-10. After the game, we walked over to Cliff Keen Arena to watch the Wolverines volleyball team take on Iowa. This let traffic disperse while we enjoyed a sport that I’ve really taken to. This small venue (1,800 seats) doesn’t make The List, but it still was worth the pit stop as Michigan won 3-1. We moved our car then downtown for a late meal and with most of the restaurants packed, we choose a sandwich at the Maize & Blue Delicatessen. Solid decision.
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Sunday was another early start as we drove from Ann Arbor to Orchard Park, via Canada once again. After I got past my mistake of switching lanes at the border crossing near Detroit and getting scolded (despite all of two lanes open and a 5-minute wait before trying to make the switch to an open lane, whoops), we made the trip with no issues and good timing. Thank you by the way to the douchy Penn State fan in front of us at the Michigan game that provided our made up entertainment for the trip back. We got to Orchard Park right at Noon and my brother’s clutch work tickets in the Jim Kelly Club meant primo parking and decent tickets. I circled the stadium for post-renovation pictures and settled into the seat at 12:57 PM. Last week, as a typical Bills fan would, I griped about having to sit through another crappy performance, but quite the contrary as players love Rex Ryan and played play hard when his job is on the line. Buffalo dominated Arizona and the game was a blast. The stadium was absolutely rocking and very loud. I hope so much that this stadium survives as it is such an old-school place with an atmosphere at the top of the NFL. With random bursts of Shout, we walked out of the stadium to conclude a terrific trip.

Fun facts…home teams went 4-0! That is the first time since February 2012 where the home teams went undefeated on a stadium trip. The Bills win also meant that they are 5-0 in games I have attended in person. We did a lot of walking on this trip: 23.2 miles in three days. Thanks to my brother Eric for joining and providing high-quality, mostly immature humor throughout. It will take me awhile to get detailed reviews of each stadium up, but you can expect over the next couple weeks for these to be completed and they will be on the right column and this post once their done (Rynearson Stadium and Michigan Stadium).

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Meeeechigan (and Buffalo)

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 20, 2016

 

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This is the one that I’ve been looking forward to all year as we are headed to a new state: Michigan! It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a new FBS stadium (2012 to be exact) and I was determined this season to get one. Originally, the plan was to visit the Queen City for a Cincinnati Bearcats, Reds and Miami of Ohio trip. That didn’t go so well for the home teams (0-3) and I had several other reasons a few months ago that made me want to look elsewhere. I stumbled upon a great college football doubleheader instead, with Eastern Michigan playing Wyoming this Friday Night and the Wolverines taking on Penn State Saturday Afternoon. I’ll be leaving Jersey on Thursday with a family overnight stop in Rochester, NY. My brother is accompanying me on this trip as we’ve started setting up a solid twice-a-year roady: Fall Football and Late Winter Hockey.

We’ll start the journey early Friday morning, cutting through Canada in the process. Hopefully the border crossings are quick as we’ll meet up with Paul Swaney for lunch in Ann Arbor. Paul is the owner of Stadium Journey and we met up once before when he was living in Chicago. He’s a great guy, fellow stadium/sports lover and he has done wonders building a website for those looking to partake in sports travel and I’m looking forward to seeing him again. We’ll then check out of some downtown A2 and campus before heading to Ypsilanti, about 20 minutes to the east. Our stay in Ypsi is short, but enough to see their primary sights like Depot Town and a famous structure perfect for a college town. Rynearson Stadium is the site for the 7:30 start for Eastern Michigan’s game against Wyoming. On Saturday, it’s back to Ann Arbor, where we’ll attempt to take in the full game-day experience around Michigan Stadium before heading to the 107,601-seat bowl for their game against Penn State. Sunday, is drive back day and originally, we were going to be heading to Orchard Park for the Bills-Cardinals game, but circumstances have changed those plans. I haven’t been back to the Ralph (err…New Era) since 2013 and it’s probably for the best given the potential debacle. Yes, I want to see the stadium post renovations, but No, I don’t want to be out $100, depressed and angry at a team that seems to do that to me every Sunday.  

(EDIT…My brother got free tickets and parking! In the club section no less. So we are back on to see New Era Field and while I still likely will walk out of there sad because of a dysfunctional 0-3 team, at least I’ll see the stadium renovations with no cost involved)

The weather looks nice and pleasant for this trip and I’m pumped to add these two new Michigan Stadiums to the list of visits!

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2016 NFL Stadiums Update

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 8, 2016

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Image from Vikings.com

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The National Football League is not only the most powerful league in the country, but also the most powerful voice in the stadium world. As we begin a new season, there is a fair amount of change on the facility front and it starts in the NFC. Up in Minneapolis, we have the grand opening of U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Vikings finally have a home after a few years on a college campus. Though I had an affection for the Metrodome as my favorite domed stadium because of the noise (and I love their horn), U.S. Bank Stadium reviews have been excellent. And, I’m happy to hear that it is quite loud, which is rare for new places as they tend to lose their noise and atmosphere (see Indianapolis). The other big story is the move of the Rams from St Louis to Los Angeles. Edward Jones Dome, now called The Dome at America’s Center, wasn’t the greatest, but of course it was suitable for football. It just wasn’t suitable to make the bajillions of dollars that the NFL and Team Owners want. St. Louis’ Dome isn’t even paid off (built in 1995) and it will sit empty, without a sports tenant. This should be a lesson to local/state governments willing to throw millions into new facilities for the lure of a team and to be smart with financing and lease agreements. But we know it won’t. As for the Rams, they will play in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum until their palace is complete in 2019.

Elsewhere, Miami wraps up a major renovation to what is now called Hard Rock Stadium. It is a pretty impressive transformation and the canopy roof is a huge plus for fans attending games in the heat. This stadium is sooo Miami. Check out the Living Room Suites. Elsewhere, in a place completely opposite of Miami, Buffalo will see a stadium name change as New Era Field replaces the team owner’s name on the front of the building. Many people forget that Buffalo was one of the first places with a corporate sponsorship when Rich Stadium opened in 1973 (Rich is the name of a food products company). Denver has had some naming issues as The Sports Authority is no more, having gone bankrupt. However, Denver for now will still have that name on their stadium in what has become quite complicated. C’mon guys, just go back to the name “Mile High Stadium”. Finally, Overstock is no longer associated with the Raiders’ stadium and the endangered place is called the Oakland Alameda Coliseum. I can just hear Chris Berman now.

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