Nothing like a Warm Gym on a Cold Night

Back from Eastern Ohio, where it was nothing but a white, winter wonderland. Not good luck given how this winter has progressed thus far, but with the dicey weather being confined to when I was mainly in town (and not long-distance traveling), the trip was doable. But something I won’t repeat given similar circumstances. The drive out Friday was nice and quiet with just a little non-accumulating light snow as I arrived in Canton. I had some extra time, so I spent a few hours at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It is undergoing some significant renovations and its a good thing as out of the four major Hall of Fame’s I’ve been to, this one probably ranks last. Still, the most impressive part was walking into the room with all of the member busts…something that makes you say “wow” when walking in

At night, I traveled through the pleasant downtown of Canton to the Civic Center for an NBDL game between Canton and Fort Wayne.  This old place was a very classic small city, multi-purpose civic center with a noticeably great staff helping to make everyone a little happier in the arena. The Charge won this game 106-85 after pulling away in the fourth quarter and it was nice watching guys that I saw play college ball (Antoine Aguido, TJ Campbell, Manny Harris and Frank Hasell).  Check out the detailed review here: #113 Canton Memorial Civic Center. Also, watch for a review over at Stadium Journey.

The snow was manageable the next morning leaving Canton, but the ride to Kent was classic lake effect: a few bare periods interspersed with times when the snow was ripping heavily. The 11 AM start and poor weather may have had an impact on the crowd, because I always thought this place was usually full and moderately loud. This game vs Ball State was about half-full and though the enthusiasm wasn’t necessarily there, all fans know a lot about this team. The Flashes are once again looking good this year as they won their 6th in a row, blowing out Ball State 76-55. As for the Memorial Athletic & Convocation Center…loved how everything was blue and gold, really giving the gym character. The arena design is just ok, but you do not want to sit at the top of the sides as the view is poor and restricted. The detailed reviews is posted on the right (#114 MAC Center).

Leaving Kent, bursts of snow were now accumulating an inch per hour and after lunch downtown in Ray’s Place (wish I got to see more of what seemed like a great college town), the drive to the hotel was dicey as my car had a few inches on it during the time I was eating. After relaxing in the hotel and doing a little weather nowcasting (along with cursing out how poor NWS Cleveland is)…I somehow made it to Akron’s arena (known as the JAR) after re-routing around a closed I-76. Looks like I wasn’t the only one who fought the weather as I was really, really impressed with the turnout for the Zips game given the crappy conditions. Fans filled the place and were louder than Kent State’s arena too. As for the facility itself, it’s strange with an odd indoor track circling in front of the second tier of seating. I’d probably give the slight nod to Kent for arena design (though the rafters in the way at the top is annoying), but on this night, Akron won the fan support/atmosphere battle. Akron dominated their game too and man, I can’t wait for March 2 or 3, when these two perennial conference contenders play on the season finale as both look really good right now. I wouldn’t mind a second straight Akron-Kent State MAC Final. Check out the review of the JAR here

I left early Sunday and got through some Western PA nuisance snow to make it home safely. Definitely not a trip I’ll be repeating weather-wise, but it was a successful trip and I really enjoyed checking out Canton-Kent-Akron. Special thanks to Sean Wyatt and Greg Keys on the journey. Detailed reviews of each venue are up on the right hand side of the page…take care!

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