The Year in Visits – 2015

2015 Stadium Visits
Locations of each stadium visited in 2015


What would December 26-31 be without a recap of the departing year. Since this website is centered on reviews, It probably would make sense to summarize it all right? In total, we saw 11 new stadiums, ballparks and arenas. Going forward, I still plan on hitting double-digit venues each year, but this year’s number was the lowest in a year since 2007 for very good reason as we welcomed our beautiful daughter, Shayla, into the world. Let’s take a look at the past year in stadium visits:


Favorite New Stadium:  Lincoln Financial Field……I’m not a huge fan of professional venues within the Big Four as they are overly corporate and stale. But I was quite pleased in the visit to a Philadelphia Eagles game as The Linc has a seating structure different than most stadiums. There are several things that give the place character and it helps that every seat is filled. Fans are passionate and crazy, but not as horrible as every media stereotype indicates. The only deterrence is the boring Sports Complex surroundings. Fly Eagles Fly!
………Honorable Mention: PNC Field

Worst New Stadium:  Municipal Stadium……Give me a stadium built before 1939 and you usually have me at Hello. But, when arriving in the parking lot at Hagerstown’s Municipal Stadium, the sad state of this bland, cheap facility was too much for me to cherish. This is old-school minor league baseball and the atmosphere is as such too with the lack of promotions. Typically this is refreshing (like in Williamsport or Elmira), but it wasn’t great here.
………Honorable Mention:
Hersheypark Stadium

Favorite New City:  Frederick, MD……I had no idea how awesome Frederick is. Many cities have undergone a revitalization in the last few decades, but the City of Clustered Spires really has done a great job. Carroll Creek Park is such a fun place during the warm season and when I was there, the mini-Riverwalk held a craft beer festival. The main street thru town is full of excellent restaurants and pubs, plus the whole city is oozing history (especially Civil War) with interesting markers all over. 
………Honorable Mention: Hagerstown

Really?:  Cal U. Convocation Center……I love stadiums and the game atmosphere, but even I had to question why California University of Pennsylvania needed a $59 million, 5,000 seat arena. Yes, it is a beautiful place, but the Division II school has had nothing but headaches and problems since the controversial completion of the project, which was vehemently protested by many. The former coal mining town of just 6,400 has not exactly seen a boom in concerts and events either. Now, this arena is never more than half full for any event and CalU struggles with debt and yearly losses.

Best Restaurant:  Clyde’s…..On a stadium trip to the DC area, my Dad joined me and we spent some time in historic Georgetown. I always thought that Georgetown was only that school in gray I hated growing up and did not know it also is a neighborhood. It is an awesome place to walk around and a great evening was topped off with a meal at Clyde’s on M Street. It’s a classic place decked out in oak and I had the sublime Tuscan Sausage Ravioli.  
………Honorable Mention: Steve’s Prince of Steaks in Philadelphia, PA;  Pita Chip in Philadelphia, PA

Best In-Stadium Food:   The Schmitter……This sandwich is best known for being at Citizens Bank Park, but it also has a stand at Lincoln Financial Field. Arriving from McNally’s Tavern in the Philly neighborhood of Chestnut Hill is The Schmitter, a sandwich that is “The Ultimate Cheesesteak”. This is not your normal Philly classic as this cheesesteak is loaded with stuff like tomatoes, special sauce, onions and it is on a Kaiser roll. Bring your appetite.
………Honorable Mention: None

Best Game  Buffalo vs Canisius……During a Thanksgiving trip to see the family, I made the short drive to Buffalo for a return visit to Alumni Arena. What followed was another classic basketball game involving UB, similar to what I saw a decade earlier. After a bizarre sequence led to a five-point possession for Canisius, they eventually got the lead until a bomb from Jarryn Skeete tied the game for the Bulls with seconds left. In OT, the Griffs had the lead for much of the extra session, but a defensive breakdown led to a dunk by UB with less than 5 seconds left for the lead and the win. Great game.
………Honorable Mention: Southern Maryland vs Bridgeport;  Duquense vs Rhode Island

Championship Teams:  None……The closest we came this year to seeing a championship winning squad was the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. Crustacean Nation saw their team reach the Atlantic League Championship Series, but they fell short to another dominant team with the nickname “Patriots”. Somerset won their 6th title three games to one.

Best Drive:  US-15 in Maryland…..On my way to a baseball weekend in Northwest Maryland, I drove through Pennsylvania via I-78 and then I-81. I then cut southward along Route 15 and it really was a nice drive once I got into Maryland. Hills are all around and immediately after crossing the state line, one sees the quaint campus of Mount St. Mary’s University. Catoctin State Park is next in Thurmont and then Frederick is not too far away. 

Worst Drive:  US-301 in Maryland……Driving in Philadelphia or DC is obvious, so let’s go with a surprisingly crap drive. That would be Route 301 in Southern Maryland between Waldorf and Upper Marlboro. Given that this is DC suburb territory, congestion should be expected. Adding to the frustration is that this four to six lane road has many stoplights. With big box stores all up and down the sides, it is an aggravating stretch for those on a long car trip. 

Best Side Trip:  Steamtown……This National Historic Site is located in Scranton and it is great for those looking to channel their inner Sheldon Cooper. Locomotives are the theme here and the historical information and visuals are impressive. They have a roundhouse and a train tour that is perfect for adults and kids. Steamtown is also right downtown and I enjoyed an old-fashioned Texas Weiner afterwards at Coney Island.
………Honorable Mention: Washington Monument in Boonsboro;  National Mall in DC;  Georgetown in DC;  Dr. Samuel Mudd House in Waldorf

Best Return Visit:  MCU Park……Speaking of Coney Island, I went back to Brooklyn last July to see if the home of the Cyclones is still the highest rated minor-league ballpark that I have been to. It still is. This park does it all right and it takes advantage of an unparalleled setting. All the more special is how the ballpark survived and the neighborhood recovered from Hurricane Sandy.
………Honorable Mention: The Palestra;  Madison Square Garden


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