Wrapping up 2012

Camp Randall Stadium Interior
Madison is the place to check out sports stadiums

We did this last year and I enjoyed reminiscing about the past year in Stadium visits, so we’ll do it again in 2012! A remarkable 20 stadiums were visited this year, which is a record high for me (up from 17 in 2011). No way I’ll be able to keep up that pace a few years down the road, but we can certainly try. Below is a “Best of” Stadium and Arena Visits in 2012. 


Favorite Stadium: UW Field House……We will go a little outside of the box on this one. This is certainly not the most glamorous arena, but it is one of the most unique. It makes me happy to see old places preserved and the facility built in 1930 plays host to Wisconsin Badgers volleyball. With the exception of the new red paint, the amazing old interior seems untouched from the early 1900s.
………Honorable Mention: Coors Field, Camp Randall Stadium, Air Canada Centre

Highest-Rated New Stadium: Camp Randall Stadium (83.5 Ranking)……We’ll stay in Wisconsin as nearly every category ranks high at Camp Randall for Badgers Football. College is known for great atmosphere’s and this place is near the top. Really incredible experience going to a game here and I won’t forget my first “Jump Around

Favorite New City: Grand Junction……I don’t want this list to become too Madison-centric, so I’ll put Grand Junction as my favorite. The scenery alone driving from Denver makes this place worth a visit. The surrounding mesas are beautiful, as is the trip to the nearby Colorado National Monument. We came into town when the farmers market was ongoing and this small city had a vibe that makes it feel like home.
………Honorable Mention: Madison, Denver, Kent

Weather Ranking: 3 out of 10…….I can’t complain too much in that planned, out of region trips to outdoor sporting events went off without a postponement. But aside from that, not a fun weather year with these visits. Given that snow constitutes a big part of my job, it’s surprising that the first three visits of the year started by seeing the white stuff. It was just some flurries when visiting nearby Lafayette in January. Then it was the monster lake effect snow event in Northeast Ohio that I battled through to visit Akron and Kent. I wrote at length about that earlier in the year, a venture I won’t do again. Some nuisance snow then fell on our trip to Toronto. At the other end of the spectrum, the heat was on in the summer. Game time temperatures were hot: 93 at Yankee Stadium, 95 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and 90 in Sam Suplizio Field. In the Fall, Sandy delayed my visit to Newark, DE a couple weeks.

Best Restaurant: Tocabe…..Though Guy Fieri annoys me at times, I have really gotten into Diners, Drive-ins and Dives this year. I’ve started looking into places that have made an appearance on the show while visiting a new city and that plan got off to a terrific start after we visited Tocabe in Denver, CO. It is a Native American eatery with the Indian Taco being the main highlight. It looks messy, but emm-emmm was it so good!
………Honorable Mention: The Old Fashioned in Madison, WI; Bin 707 in Grand Junction, CO; Hershey Farm Smorgasborg, Lancaster, PA; Modern Apizza, Yale, CT

Best Game: Yale vs Harvard…….An Ivy League baseball game where Yale came in 0-8 in the conference didn’t exactly spark my enthusiasm, but sometimes you get surprised and that’s the beauty of sports. A great game played out after Harvard took the lead 2-1 in the top half of the last inning (7th), the Bulldogs rallied to tie the game at 2. Then in the 8th inning, Joe Lubanski ripped a triple and then was sacrificed in to give Yale the win as they broke a 12 game losing streak. The jubilation Yale showed when they won was awesome and just goes to show that there are some places where they just play for pride. It was a special win to watch.
………Honorable Mention:
Columbia vs Marist, Lancaster vs Somerset

Favorite Playing Surface: Kent State……It’s hard to see in the picture, but that floor is parquet and I like that look for basketball. The team’s logo isn’t obnoxiously big and a simple Kent State is written at the ends. No ads on the court and this basketball surface at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center was my favorite.
………Honorable Mention: UW Field House, Bob Carpenter Center

Unique Seats: Canton Memorial Civic Center…..Special thanks to Sean Wyatt on this one. My first NBDL game was up close and personal as I had courtside seats behind the basket. When I visit a new stadium, I do not like sitting close because I don’t get a good perspective on the interior during the game (I prefer upper-level seats). However, this opportunity was well worth it as I’ve never seen a game like that. It’s a really cool experience that should be done once. Plus, I saw guys that I followed in college like Antoine Aguido and Frank Hasell.

Home Record: 14-6…..The presence of Rowland turned things around this year after a dismal home team showing in 2011. There were no long winning streaks, but a number of teams got a much needed W while we were in attendance.

Championships: None…..There were a couple of close calls, namely the Toronto Marlies reaching the Calder Cup Finals, but no championships. When we visited the Ricoh Coliseum, the Marlies looked legit up close with Nazem Kadri and Phillipe Dupois leading the way. They would steamroll my team (Rochester) in the first round, but eventually fell just short of the AHL title, losing to Norfolk. Also, Wisconsin won the Big Ten football championship, but I don’t count that since they were behind two ineligible teams in their division.

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