The number of stadiums I have been to is getting close to a milestone number of 100 and I’ve started toying with the idea of going somewhere special for that when it takes place next year. Of course, logistics will have a big part of it and it may not be possible…but it’s fun to dream right? Here are some of the arenas, ballparks and stadiums that are kind of on a wishlist of mine. Some are the usual ones you might expect, while some may seem exotic. These are in no particular order:
Rexall Place – Edmonton Oilers: You might be thinking Edmonton, really? The building itself may not be spectacular as it’s from the 70s…but man is it loud! When they were in the playoffs years ago in the 2000s, I would watch games just to hear the noise. Just listen to this rendition of “O, Canada” during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Plus, it would be awesome to take an Alberta trip and visit their rivals in Calgary (which has a sweet building), along with seeing some WHL barns.
Wrigley Field – Chicago Cubs: Cue the high-pitched heavenly music. I probably don’t have to explain why I’d like to go here.
Hinkle Fieldhouse – Butler Bulldogs: Not just for the “Hoosiers” reference, but because it is so wonderfully old-school. What Indiana basketball is all about. A day game would be great here when the sun shines through the windows. Everything about this place just seems special and even though they knocked out my team (Syracuse) in the tourney last year, I felt a little punch in the stomach when that Gordon Hayward shot was inches from giving them a National Championship. That would have been awesome. The 09-10 Bulldogs were such a pure, fun team to watch.
Camden Yards – Baltimore Orioles: The mystique of this ballpark has worn off, but this is the stadium that changed it all and made designers completely rethink how a ballpark was built. Now-adays retro may be overdone, but this is still the beginning of a wonderful era.
Raley Field – Sacramento River Cats: I don’t know too much about this ballpark, but I do know that most ballpark enficionados (and there’s a lot of them) think this is one of the tops in the minors. Terrific downtown stadium that draws really well. On the other side of the coast and built eons before Raley, I want to see a game at historic McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket. I was oh so close a few months ago being in Providence for a few days, but sadly the PawSox were out of town.
Neyland Stadium – Tennessee Volunteers: I can just hear Rocky Top being played now. There are so many special football places, but this one always resonated with me since I was kid and I’m not sure why. Could be Rocky Top or all of that bright orange. Love the location of this stadium on the Tennessee River and how people boat and tailgate to it. Husky Stadium in Washington also has that with Union Bay
Qwest Field – Seattle Seahawks: Very cool design, incredible noise and fan base…likely the place I would most want to see an NFL game. Plus Seattle always strikes me as a great, clean city.
Ralph Engelstad Arena – North Dakota Fighting Sioux: Definitely off the beaten path in Grand Forks, but just read what anyone has to say about this newly-built college hockey arena and it is nothing but terrific compliments on what a great, beautiful facility it is.
Charles Koch Arena – Wichita State Shockers: The Roundhouse, just seems like a fantastic place to get a feel for the MVC and it’s brand of basketball. Fans seem so close to the court at this arena. Other places in the MVC at the top end of my list: Drake’s Knapp Center, Missouri State’s JQH Arena and Indiana State’s Hulman Center.
Williams Arena – Minnesota Golden Gophers: Another old barn…but this one is actually nicknamed “The Barn”. This was built in 1928 and has some real interesting features, like the raised floor. If I were to pick a city to vacation in purely for the sports stadiums, Minneapolis is likely in my top 3: Along with this facility, you have the beautiful new TCF Bank Stadium and Target Field, the Metrodome (my favorite dome from my tv sports-watching experiences) and the always-sold out Xcel Energy Center.
I have been to four of the stadiums on your wish list (Wrigley, Camden Yard, Hinkle, and Williams Arena). Putting the two baseball stadiums head-to-head I would take Wrigley. Even after 50+ visits, I still love to go, and look forward to the next trip (although my website ranks Camden as the better overall baseball experience by a slight margin). For the two college basketball venues, both are fantastic, but I would give the edge to Butler and Hinkle (although The Barn has a better neighborhood nearby). I would think that Hinkle would be especially electric this year after their big season last year.
From there, putting Wrigley vs Hinkle is a tough call, and really should be decided based on which sport you like to watch the most baseball or college basketball. Hope it helps…