Reviewing Stadiums 101-200

Me in Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium for Visit #200 on August 4, 2018

Last month, I visited my 200th official stadium down in Houston, TX at BBVA Compass Stadium. After wrapping up the first 100 back in 2011, I’d like to do the same and take a trip down memory lane for a best of / worst of from #101 to #200.

Favorite Stadium: Providence Park……Everything came together for a memorable experience: location, architecture and atmosphere. I marveled at the unique stadium structure that was Providence Park, the Fenway of the MLS. As a soccer fan, going to a place that cares as much about the sport and their team as they do in the Big 4 was special. Timbers Army is an experience every sports fan must do.
……….Honorable Mention: Camden Yards, Camp Randall Stadium, Talen Energy Stadium, Wrigley Field,

Least Favorite Stadium: Volcanoes Stadium……This is such a horribly designed ballpark, especially considering it was built in the 1990s. Disjointed and worn with a backdrop of the interstate, Volcanoes Stadium takes the sour cake.
……….Dis-honorable Mention: Ballpark at Harbor Yard, Jack Kaiser Stadium, Eunice Kennedy Shriver Stadium

Best Atmosphere: Siegel Center……I still vividly remember my walk from the arena to the car and saying “Wow” about a dozen times. This was an atmosphere I’ll never forget as the entire crowd was electric and that was emphasized on this dunk. What really made the experience standout were the fantastic Peppas, a pep band that tore the house down.
………..Honorable Mention: Providence Park, Michigan Stadium, Yost Ice Arena, Lincoln Financial Field, Rec Hall

Underrated: Mohegan Sun Arena……Amazingly, an arena by the same name won this award for the First 100. That one was in Wilkes-Barre, PA, this one is in Uncasville, CT and is home to the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun. Everything about this experience was great, including the terrific design of the arena and concourse. Add in the fact that it is inside of a casino and you have your night pretty much set after the game.
………..Honorable Mention: Franklin Field, Memorial Field, Robins Center, Utica Memorial Auditorium, UW Field House

Best New City: Montgomery, AL……This is not just selecting an outsider for outsider sake as I really loved the two days I spent in Alabama’s capital city. Montgomery had a pretty horrible 200 years, but the last 20 have been pretty good. Great historical sites, a fun downtown and a terrific state museum in the capitol building made for a great trip while in town to see the Biscuits baseball team.
……….Honorable Mention: Baltimore, Chicago, Madison, Washington DC

Best New Small City/Town: Lake Placid, NY……This winter resort town is as good as you would think. Expensive, but worth it as you feel like you are in a different country in this icy paradise as the setting is breathtaking. The charming Main Street with the frozen lake behind it and the mountains in the backdrop set the stage for a perfect spot to have a hockey tournament. Add in the Olympic sites and the place gets all the better.
………Honorable Mention: Ann Arbor (MI), Frederick (MD), Hanover (NH), Kingston (ON), York (PA)

Worst City/Town: Chester, PA……MLS teams have a knack for building soccer stadiums in the suburbs. Most suffer because of that and while Talen Energy Stadium benefits with a picturesque riverfront and background bridge, the rest of the area is a place to stay away from. Drive in for the game and then get out of there.
………Honorable Mention: California (PA), Kinston (NC)

Worst Drive: Lynah Rink.…..Cornell is a pain to get to as its Finger Lakes location far from the Interstate means a lengthy ride on two lane country roads. I knew I was taking a risk on this November 19, 2016 trip, but given the time of season I was hoping that the amount of snow sticking on the roads would be minimal. This bizarre day started with a 73 degree football game at Schoellkopf Field. The cold front came through while walking around campus and by the time the hockey game started, it was 40 degrees. Snow began in the 2nd period and when I left the game, we already had an inch with a bit of it sticking on the roads. This made for a white knuckle drive back to Jersey with reduced visibility and treacherous conditions on those rolling hills between Cornell and Binghamton, then again in the Pocono’s. I stopped in at work to see how things were going with the snow and didn’t get to bed until about 2:30 AM.

Best Restaurant:  Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, MI…..You know a place is awesome when you crave for something like this back home. Zingerman’s is that place as I wanted to try 90% of their menu. The subs are all unique and made with great ingredients, which is cliche in today’s world, but it stood out here. There is a certain college, quirky vibe and while it may be expensive, the subs are huge and the price is right for the quality.
………Honorable Mention:  Blue Moon Bar & Grill in Grand Junction, CO; Clyde’s in Washington, DC; Stockyard Grill in Montgomery, AL

Weirdest Visit: Rynearson Stadium…..The game was overshadowed by protests as a few days earlier, a disgusting display was found as there was an incident with racist graffiti. Everything ended up being peaceful, but there was certainly tension as protesters congregated behind the end zone. They came onto the field before the final seconds ticked off and this led to a mixed reaction as EMU players and fans were not able to celebrate their first home in win against an FBS school in nearly two years. An unrelated side note that added to this weird stadium visit: the opposing team was Wyoming and their QB was Josh Allen. I never, ever would’ve thought this future Buffalo Bill would be a first round pick, or a player that I root on for (hopefully) many years.

Completed Leagues: Eastern League……My trip to the Harrisburg Senators’ ballpark in 2013 meant that I had visited every team in the league. This was my first feat in achieving a league’s venue completion and it lasted all of two years. The New Britain Rock Cats moved to Hartford and I remain one ballpark away from getting to all 12 once again. It’ll probably be a few years until I make it up to Dunkin’ Donuts Park.

Best Game: Clarkson vs Princeton……There were plenty of options, but the circumstances pushed this one to the top. It was the 2018 ECAC Hockey Championship in Lake Placid and underdog Princeton clung to a 1-0 lead through the third period. For the 90% of the building rooting for the Golden Knights, things were bleak. Clarkson had one last chance…and it went in! a miracle! 😉 Nico Sturm’s deflection with 6.4 seconds left sent Herb Brooks Arena into hysteria as Clarkson fans went bonkers, jumping up and down all around. My brother and I just stared at each other with mouth’s wide open, soaking in the craziness. What a moment. The building caught its breath during the 15-minute intermission as we awaited OT. It didn’t take long for the outcome to be decided as just 2:36 into the extra frame, Princeton’s Max Becker won it and the Tigers went crazy, celebrating their first ECAC title in ten years. They beat the #1, #2 and #3 seeds to do it with one of the conference’s most remarkable championship runs ever.


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