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A Long, Strange Trip

Posted by Sean Rowland on August 28, 2016

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Image from themoviemind.com

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Something a little different on this visit wrap-up…
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3:25 AM:  Alarm goes off. Hit snooze Button.

3:35 AM:  Alarm goes off. Hit snooze Button.

3:39 AM:  Alarm goes off. This time it is the ‘real’ one.

4:00 AM:  Begin a half-day at work. The forecast is pretty straight-forward, which is welcomed on this day so I can breeze thru it and get other operational stuff done.

8:00 AM:  Make a quick pit-stop at home to drop a few things and say hello/goodbye to the wife and daughter. Also check traffic to see what frustrations I’m in for.

8:45 AM:  Depart for New Haven, CT to the Connecticut Tennis Center and the WTA Semifinals between Elina Svitolina and Johanna Larsson.

10:40 AM:  After cruising along pretty well and enjoying the toll-booth less Tappan Zee Bridge, the fun stops just 15 minutes from New Haven, where things comes to a screeching halt on the Merritt Parkway. Construction leads to a 30 minute delay as it takes me half that time for me to start yelling at nobody and looking deranged. Minutes checking out the facility fade fast.

11:30 AM:  Finally arrive at the Tennis Center. Still an hour and a half before the match starts, but I need all of that time to check out the facility, take pictures (remember no moving around during play) and eat.

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11:31 AM:  Instantly begin sweating. Temp: 82, Dewpoint: 73

12:50 PM:  Complete walking tour of the grounds, which are nicely maintained and have some great spots like the picnic tables under shade and next to the awesome food trucks. Settle inside the stadium with a New Haven-style pizza slice

1:00 PM:  Out walks Svitolina and Larsson to a crowd of about 500…here we go

1:12 PM:  Thank you clouds!

1:30 PM:  Please come back clouds!

1:53 PM: Svitolina takes the hard-fought first set 6-4. Larsson hangs in there to save some set points and this was a grueling set given the heat as both ladies pounded the ball. The row I sit in was the only one in the whole stadium with a sliver of shade, but it’s not enough. With the heat index now over 90, I move to stand under an overhang and watch the second set.

2:23 PM:  The 10th seed Ukrainian is too much and wins 6-4, 6-2. She’ll be in the final on Saturday and I hung around a little bit to listen to the on-court interview and watch her on the nearby ESPN set afterwards.

2:55 PM:  Stop in East Haven at The Shore Line Trolley Museum with about an hour to kill before heading to the next stadium.

3:20 PM:  While taking the historic trolley, the engineer says “The pole went down again”. As we wait for the next trolley ahead to proceed and the engineer adjusts this “pole”, the scene on the silent trolley in the middle of the salt marsh is peaceful and eerie at the same time.

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3:55 PM:  Head east to Norwich and the second stadium on the day. The cancellation of the Tri-City ValleyCats game I planned on attending last month, made me consider and add this Connecticut Tigers game and a visit to Dodd Stadium. Knowing it’s rush hour, I check Google and see the dreaded red color along 95.

4:30 PM:  After trying to avoid traffic (unsuccessfully) by using Route 1, I get back onto 95. It was an enjoyable alternative going thru coastal towns like Branford and Guilford. 

5:15 PM:  Dinner at Lazizah Bakery in the Yantic section of Norwich. Trip Advisor is my go to for the best food places and this was one of the very few times that the high-rated reviews didn’t match my experience. While reluctant to say much negative at a local establishment, I was unimpressed. Finished up my luke-warm Gyro and hoped that I just caught them on a bad day near closing. The gyro at least filled me up for the evening to come (and there were some good ingredients in there).

6:00 PM:  Arrival at Dodd Stadium, after going up the long, winding road that encompasses a pretty massive business park. Great job to the CT Tigers parking crew that direct drivers into your parking spot and then collects the $3 fee. Seamless and more teams should do this.

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7:07 PM:  First Pitch at a classic 1990s ballpark that I’ve seen the design of a million times before. Nothing special, but nothing bad. Certainly a big park for a single-A team, but that’s because it was built for AA. I settle in behind home plate for the first pitch between Connecticut and Vermont. On this night, they pay homage to that prior AA team, the Norwich Navigators! I like that name much better, they should go back to it. 

8:15 PM:  The Tigers Navigators finally capitalize on erratic Lake Monster pitching with a 4 runs in the fourth inning. All of them came with two outs. It may be a small crowd (1500?), but they have good enthusiasm for each run (and I like the song accompaniment).

9:44 PM:  Game Over. The home team wins 6-3. Plotting my 3 hour journey back home, I see construction near Bridgeport. Errr. Debating a detour around it, but decide to just hope that the 15 minute delay fades as night traffic should diminish as I approach.

10:45 PM:  No delays thru Bridgeport, Yea! Cue up Men In Blazers podcast, which always makes the car ride enjoyable. Then it’s a fight against fatigue for that last hour.

12:45 AM:  Arrival into Hackettstown and starving. Wendy’s is the closest option, but no homestyle chicken sandwich. Drive the extra five minutes to Taco Bell, which I’ll probably regret. Employees are much nicer here than Wendy’s

1:08 AM:  Home. Destroy Delicious Taco Bell, which inevitably destroys me and delays shower and bed time.

2:03 AM:  Almost 24 hours after the day began…Good Night!

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Stadium reviews for both the Connecticut Tennis Center and Dodd Stadium will be up in the next week or two. Check back here for the link once ready, or they’ll be on the right hand side of the page. Take care!

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Sea Creatures Playing Hockey

Posted by Sean Rowland on March 9, 2016

Before getting to the games involving the Penguins and the Otters, this trip started on Friday with a basketball game. After another 2 AM shift with an early morning snow, I was able to squeeze in an hour nap before heading up to the Finger Lakes. The Ithaca Ale House makes some really good burgers, so I stopped there before going up the hill to Cornell’s confusing campus. Newman Arena is home to the Big Red and it really is a glorified high school gym. At least the displays in Bartels Hall, an adjoining concourse shared with Lynah Rink, are pretty decent. This was an important game in the Ivy League as Yale needed a few wins to clinch at least a tie. The Bulldogs jumped out to a big lead and then Cornell closed it to 22-18. Then, Yale blew the game open as they simply outclassed the Big Red, winning 88-64. A couple hours later, Harvard beat Princeton and that set up the Bulldogs winning their first Ivy League Title in over 50 years the next night with a victory over Columbia.
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Following Cornell, it was on to Rochester to pick up my brother, Eric, and then we drove to Pittsburgh on Saturday. If you need a hotel, I highly recommend the Hampton Inn Downtown as the location is perfect, parking is free and the price is right. We set up shop there and then walked to the Consol Energy Center. The strip along 5th Ave in front of the arena is a disappointing slew of older buildings and businesses as we settled for “The Souper Bowl” for lunch. It was a crappy one all around that is not worth elaboration. Gametime was 3 PM and I took my usual laps around. It’s a nice building (at 6 years old, it should be) and it has all the bells and whistles expected nowadays. There’s a great feature in the lower level with an interactive display of players and moments, but half of the monitors didn’t work. Inside, again, nice sightlines, it’s just that I have an affinity for the older buildings and the Igloo was unique, while the CEC is the same design seen all over the place. As for the game, the Pens converted their few chances into a pair of goals and they were tied with Calgary at 2 going into the 3rd period. From there, the Flames grabbed the lead and the boobirds came out as Pittsburgh lost an uninspired game 4-2. For much more arena experience details, check out the official review on the right-side of the page in the days to come.

After the game, we took the Light Rail to Station Square and then up the awesome Monongahela Incline to Mount Washington. I could walk that area all day with those breathtaking views. Dinner was at the Shiloh Grill and their food is just as amazing as their creative menu. We went back downtown afterwards, where this 32-year-old fart crashed in the hotel while my brother sampled the Steel City nightlife. The next morning, we checked out the Heinz History Museum, where we spent half the time acting like a kid again as they just opened a temporary exhibit highlighting classic toys. Two levels of the museum are devoted to Western PA sports and most of our time was spent here, though the Heinz section was quite interesting too. Then, it was on to Primanti Brothers for Pittsburgh’s most famous food item. Here’s a description and picture of the sandwich for those unaware and I gotta say, it is good, but I wasn’t gaga over it. The fries just dominate the sandwich and I can’t taste much meat. Regardless, it is certainly something to try when in Pittsburgh. After lunch, we walked off the likely 1500 calories we just ate by going down the Strip District. This literal strip between the river and hills feels and looks gritty, but it really is a great place to shop, eat and walk.
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Two hours up I-79 is Erie and that was the site for our third OHL arena visit. I was here back in 2002 when it was known as Tullio Arena and I was planning on calling this a “re-visit”. However, after seeing the extent of the renovations that changed so many parts of the building, it’s hard to not consider this a “new” arena. I hate doing that as it brings up the question of “Where do you draw the line between renovation and rebuild”. This is a rebuild as the exterior and concourse are completely different and while the interior has the same shape the seating design is different. So, like PNC Field, we’re going to the very rare situation in treating this as a new arena. And it is a good one! The sleek, rounded entrance leads to an inviting concourse. Then, the horseshoe seating design is intimate and conducive for noise, where Erie notoriously excels. This is a loud building and when the Otters are good (like now), the atmosphere is fun. McDavid jerseys were everywhere as we took our seats for the 5 PM game against Niagara and despite a 48-12-1 record, the Otters fell to the IceDogs 4-2. A review on the experience will follow soon. That wrapped up our hockey venture as all went well in the western half of PA!

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A Special Day In The RVA

Posted by Sean Rowland on February 8, 2016

Virginia State Capitol

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Friday was travel day and it started quite early as a quick snow storm meant my work shift began at 2 AM. Fighting fatigue, I still wanted to hit the road immediately after, so I left midday and the ride was ok until I got into Maryland and the dreaded Beltway at rush hour. It was a slow crawl that continued on 95 in Virginia, where traffic goes from 5 MPH to 65 to 25 in minutes. Very frustrating. Finally, it opened up past Fredericksburg and not long after I got to the hotel in Richmond, I hit the sack for a needed lengthy sleep.

Refreshed, I left for downtown Richmond a little before 8 AM so I could check out the State Capitol building before heading to the VCU game. The morning was cold, but in mid-winter form, my body was seasoned to walk outside for an hour as I checked out the surrounding grounds and views from the city on top of the hill. The original building dates back to Jefferson’s design in the late 1700s and as you would expect from this commonwealth, there is an abundance of statues and history here. After an hour here, I moved my car to a lot closer to VCU, but still a 20 minute walk away as I wanted to see Richmond between the heart of the city and campus. Probably not the greatest idea as there wasn’t much to see and a few spots were a little sketchy, so even though parking can be a challenge, I recommend buying a $7 pass ahead of time and parking at the Laurel Street Deck. Despite a young age, the Siegel Center is not the prettiest building on the outside, however past the main doors, the hallways and concourse are nice and brightly lit with Rams memorabilia all around. Inside the arena, the design simply features four sides of one-level seating with a walkway behind the seats. I was not a huge fan of the set-up because of the shallow slope to each seating side, which led to seats further from the court than expected. Plus, the end of the sideline seats went so far beyond the baseline, that it lead to less than attractive sightlines. While I was not a huge fan of the arena design, it did set-up one thing…noise! That is what makes VCU’s Siegel Center a special place and I was absolutely blown away by the atmosphere…

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VCU.

I always knew that VCU had one of the better atmosphere’s in college basketball, but it wasn’t until attending live did I know that it was this good….like Top 10 in the sport good. Fans hang on every single play and the amount of passion in each roar, cheer and boo was notable. They understood the game and it is one of the very few places that I have been to where a scoreboard was not needed to egg a crowd on. It also is insanely loud and I completely believe the 110 decibels it once hit. Then you have the incredible pep band, which makes the scene all the more festive. The Peppas are the best pep band I have heard and they’re playing thru nearly the whole hour pre-game was quite enjoyable. When they play “Havoc” and the “Hey” song with the VCU chant…it is special. The students are terrific too and they play their part in the event very well. The game was against GW and the Rams came in undefeated in the A-10. This was a terrific game of basketball with a great flow and the Colonials showed incredible poise in such a hostile atmosphere. They ended up keeping the game from getting out of reach and then took the lead on a Joe McDonald 3-pointer with a minute left. VCU was down two and had the ball with 10 seconds, but they could not convert a couple of attempts as GW somehow walked out with a win. Despite the tough loss, I walked out of the building blown away by an amazing sporting experience.

The 20-minute walk back to my car allowed me time to reflect and for my ears to stop ringing as I got ready for the next game at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The University of Richmond is a small, private school on the very edge of the city that is very suburban as opposed to VCU’s large urban campus. Before getting to Richmond’s campus, I took a drive down Monument Ave and saw the famous General Lee statue. I also stopped at the only “attraction” near UR and that is the Wilton House. I normally like old house tours, but this one was so incredibly awkward as the tour guide I had would not even be suited to have a phone conversation with somebody. The $8 waste of uncomfortable-ness thankfully only lasted 25 minutes and I hightailed it out of there for an early dinner on Grove Ave at The Continental.
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Richmond
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My early arrival on Richmond’s campus meant that I could park within walking distance of the arena instead of using the shuttle and I also walked past their beautiful football stadium. The campus has terrific scenery and brick buildings and the Robins Center follows the theme with a brick exterior. Even though the arena was built in 1972, a significant renovation a couple years ago essentially turned this into a new arena. I uttered an “Oh Wow” passing from the concourse to the interior as the set-up is terrific. Everything from the seating design, slope of the seats, four premium corner spots, the color scheme and the abundance of athletic logos and wordmarks all flowed so beautifully. The Spiders took on UMass and this game was more common of modern-day sports. It was shamefully announced as a “sell-out” despite about 25% of the seats being empty. The fans were good with a fine amount of noise, but it was only when the “noise-meter” came on where the loudness really increased. Richmond ran away 69-53 from a terrible Minutemen team that settled on almost every possession for a three-point shot. A couple cool things from the visit…the videos involving “Tarrant”, the Spider mascot and the pre-game video that highlighted all of the NCAA Tournament runs by previous Richmond teams.

I’ve been longing for a great college basketball experience and this past weekend certainly delivered with an incredible atmosphere at VCU and a beautiful arena at Richmond. I highly recommend a trip to RVA for anyone who loves the sport.

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Bouncing around Philly for Temple and Penn

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 16, 2015

McGonigle Hall Interior.
A lot had to be timed right for this final Philadelphia stadium venture and thankfully, it all came together perfectly. First, the weather had to be good for work purposes and it was as the region basked under beautiful sunshine with temps in the 50s. Once that was settled out, it all came down to the speed of the games and reliance on mass transit schedules (gasp!). That worked out too. A month after boarding a PATCO train in Woodcrest, NJ with Eagles fans, I did the same thing again. Though I loathe SEPTA, using the trains and subways would save me about $20 in multiple parking and the hassle of driving in the city. After arriving in Center City, I split off from those in green jerseys and went to the other side of the Broad Street Line, heading northbound to the Cecil B. Moore Station, which exits right at Temple University. There is a student center nearby with food options open to the public and while planning the trip, I saw this included Tony Luke’s. Despite the 11:30 AM hour, I had cheesesteak on my mind (When In Philly), but they were closed and apparently only open for “Special Events” (boo to that). A quick Google Maps search for food led me across the street to Pita Chip, which turned out to be awesome. This place is essentially a Mediterranean Chipotle and I had a really good customized wrap with beef shawarma.

The first game was a Temple Volleyball contest at McGonigle Hall. This is the old basketball home for the Owls before they moved next door to the Liacouras Center (visited in 2013). I still had some time to kill before the 1 PM start, so I ventured a little deeper into Temple and saw their famous Bell Tower. When it was game time, I encountered a high-tech, fancy building as Pearson Hall (which contains McGonigle) has been remade into an impressive facility with an outdoor glass facade. The small gym seats a shade less than 4,000 and the seating is quite simple…mainly bleachers and all on the sideline, rising from the floor to the ceiling. What I liked about the arena is the amount of maroon (or Wild Cherry as Temple calls it). There is so much color and character with logos everywhere and a cool set of Owl Eyes looking down onto the court. Temple is having a great volleyball season, but their move to The American from the Atlantic 10 means no conference tournament and unfortunately, the Lady Owls likely will miss the NCAA Tournament as SMU wins the league. This match was against South Florida and Temple took all three sets, winning 25-14, 25-20 and then rallying in the third, 25-23. As much as I was enjoying the match, I was rooting hard for that third set comeback as that meant a 2:30 PM finish, allowing for good time to make a return visit to The Palestra for the Penn-CCSU bball game.
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Palestra Interior.
I took the subway to City Hall and from there, connected to the Market-Frankford Line (MFL) to reach Penn’s campus, which is two stops away on 34th Street. Not gonna lie, it was certainly shady waiting in that area underground for the subway, despite it being a Sunday afternoon. Twice I was panhandled and then an idiot next to me lit up a cigarette in that enclosed area. I exited for fresh air into University City and it took a bit for me to get my bearings as the area has the unique distinction of two separate colleges bumping up to each other (Drexel and Penn). The lack of signage to the Palestra meant another peek at Google Maps and I successfully navigated over to the unassuming brick building that from the outside, you would never know the basketball history contained inside those walls. I wrote about this place in 2011 and it gave me goosebumps again, walking those hallowed halls and then stepping foot inside the gym. What struck me this time is the reverberation of noise. It is remarkable how loud The Palestra, even with few fans. When the band was playing, it produced such a loud echo that it was hard to hear myself talk. I’m so thankful I went to that Big 5 game to experience what a game is like full throat. Maybe a thousand fans turned out for this, Penn’s second game of the young season. November is typically a tough draw and it didn’t help the Eagles were playing as well. Central Connecticut kept the game close through the first half, but in the second, the Quakers pulled away and I was particularly impressed with Sam Jones, a 6’7″ sophomore with a Mike Dunleavey type game. Penn went on to win 77-61 to open their season with a pair of wins against NEC opponents. 

The game ended at 5:50 PM and while planning this journey out, I saw it would take as much time to walk to the PATCO station then to use the subway and walk back to 34th Street. So I walked to Walnut Street and turned right, heading into the city and it turned out to be a terrific stroll (and not in the least nervy despite it being night-time). On a pleasant, mild evening, I went over the Schuylkill River, past Locust Point, stopped by Rittenhouse Square and then thru a bustling section where people were enjoying a Sunday Dinner before reaching 15th/Locust for the PATCO station. Timing was perfect as I got there at 6:24 PM and the train left at 6:26. Not long after, I got back to Woodcrest and hopped in the car home. I mentioned last post how this completed all of the stadiums on The List in the city of Philadelphia….Home teams went 6-3 for those games. I’ll have a McGonigle Hall review up on the right later this week and a pair of Stadium Journey reviews forthcoming as well. 

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The Citi Open and the Blue Crabs

Posted by Sean Rowland on August 11, 2015

Rock Creek Park Tennis Center Exterior

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Seeing a new sport live for the first time is quite exciting and since there are not many left I haven’t seen, this made my first tennis visit even better. I left Jersey around 8:30 AM and with my Dad having the same great planning and timing sense as me, we met within a minute of each other in Gettysburg (he departed from Rochester, NY). After a small and rather terrible lunch (really snack) at the Gettysburg Visitors Center cafe, we then went into the Visitors Center, which was exponentially better. It’s relatively new and the museum does a great job not only depicting the horrific battle, but also the Civil War times before and after battle. Even if you can’t see the rest of the town or battlefields, stopping at the Visitors Center for a few hours is a must-do.

We then drove an hour to Gaithersburg, MD, where we set up shop for the weekend. I researched for a while the best stop and this was ideal for the simple access to the hotel and easy drive to the large parking at the Metro Station in Shady Grove. Speaking of DC’s subway system, the Metro is awesome as a visitor. It’s easy to follow and the stations are straight-forward as they are mostly underground in that brutalist arcing cylinder. Everything is clearly marked as we had no problem all weekend finding our route and following the right line and direction. Plus the SmarTrip payment method is simple. For the Citi Open, we took the Red Line from Shady Grove to Van Ness and after a little looking around, found the 20-seat shuttle bus to Rock Creek Tennis Center. The District’s biggest park has been home to this ATP event since 1969 and we were there for the Quarterfinals. We entered into the grounds where merchandise tents led to a crowded pseudo food court, which featured expensive items, highlighted by a Thai stand (give me Paradorn Srichaphan, one time!). Centering the surrounding outer courts is the Main Stadium, which I still can’t figure out its official name. The facility is older, but the intimacy makes for great views all around. Unfortunately, it’s bleacher seating in the upper level, while the “box seats” down below surprisingly feature temporary folding chairs. For the match, it was John Isner against Ricardas Berankis. Congrats to the Lithuanian for making the Quarters, but I was really hoping to see Andy Murray in his spot. Regardless, this one at least went three sets as it looked like the Big Man was going to dominate after taking 28 minutes to win the first set. Berankis got an unexpected break to win the second, 7-5 and then the best part of the match was Isner’s immediate break back in the third. He went on to win 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. Though I’m not a fan of big serve, short rally  tennis, I very much like Isner and have followed his career closely. He is a genuine, nice, humble person that I wish the best. Look for much more details in the stadium review of the Citi Open later in the week.
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Georgetown

The Georgetown Waterfront in DC

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Saturday was all about touring DC and though I’ve been at the National Mall twice, it was during my grade-school days when I didn’t have the appreciation I do now. The weather was great…85 degrees with relatively low humidity on a DC August day is a gift. We hopped on the Metro again and the free parking at Shady Grove made that the right choice as we used the Red Line to reach Metro Center and then hopped on the Orange for the Smithsonian. After gasping at the torn-up lawn and our tainted Monument/Capitol views, we checked out the original Smithsonian building in what is essentially a castle. Then it was over to the packed Natural History Museum. Pretty cool, but it’s such a broad overview of everything that I prefer more specific museums that go more in depth into a subject. Still some great stuff in here with the big ticket item being the Hope Diamond. We had a great lunch at the cafe next door and then we walked over to the Air & Space Museum. However, the line to get in was so long that we changed plans and went back to where we started, in front of the National Archives. This stuff interested both of us and we couldn’t go wrong, so we spent the rest of the afternoon here and it was well worth it. It’s more than just historical documents as the displays are quite varied and well done. From there, we went to Georgetown, which is not just the University. This neighborhood is a former city that actually is older than Washington. It’s an up-class section loaded with shops, bars and restaurants along M Street. Tree-lined streets frame the hilly sections to the north and the Georgetown campus has a few impressive photo-ops. Then there is the Waterfront along the Potomac River which has turned from industrial dredge when my Dad was there in the 70s, to a bustling park. We had dinner right on M Street at Clyde’s and the Tuscan Sausage Ravioli was superb. To get back to the hotel in Gaithersburg, we hopped on the DC Circulator bus to the DuPont Circle, which led to the Red Metro to Shady Grove. We probably walked 5-10 miles on the day, but DC is such an incredible city (that many in the East Coast take for granted) and there is soooo much to see. I was glad to spend it with my Dad and take in as much as we could.

The nice weather continued Sunday as we headed our separate ways with my car pointed Southeast. The destination was a section of the state that is quite rural and different from the 95 corridor…Charles County in Southern Maryland, more specifically Waldorf. That’s the home of the Blue Crabs from the Atlantic League, at least Waldorf is the stated city as if you look at the map, getting a true ballpark location is a challenge. There’s not much in this area, but I did see the historical home of Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor who unknowingly fixed the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth, just hours after assassinating Abraham Lincoln. The story is fascinating and the scene on this country farmland makes it so easy to visualize what happened 150 years ago. This is such a terrific stop as the non-profit volunteers who run the tours are delightful. This is a part of sports travel that I did not expect when starting out, but have fallen in love with. Getting to stadiums brings you to parts of this great country you wouldn’t normally go and there are always surprises at each stop.
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Regency Furniture Stadium Interior

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The town of Waldorf is not exactly historic however as the center is a six-lane road that is a national chain store paradise. Go ahead, think of a big-box retailer or a nationalized restaurant and I bet it is in one of the side strip malls lining this road. Not my cup of tea, but it serves this booming area 30 miles southeast of DC. Housing is exploding in the area and that is evident on the drive to Regency Furniture Stadium. The vast parking lot in front of the park leads to a refreshingly different exterior design, which actually resembles a house with its beige siding and red panel roof. Given that this is the Atlantic League and their ballparks are so darn similar, I was expecting more of the same. Instead, I was blown away by such a terrific set-up. Check it out in the picture above as I love how the seats turn inward towards home plate (though you better watch every pitch). I even like the partially enclosed concourse behind home plate as it is not necessary to have the walkway 100% open to the field. The Blue Crabs have a great thing going on with an excellent park, though other aspects could be a little better, like the underwhelming food selection. Also, as unpopular an opinion this may be, I found the on-field MC Ron Lord (the tye-dye guy) to be incredibly annoying. He constantly was getting in the way of watching the game, whether it was standing on the dugout during action or his interrupting comments, I moved seats a few times just to get away. Even while the Blue Crabs were in a decisive moment in the 10th inning, he was loudly spewing some non-sense unrelated to the game. From a neutral perspective, his interactions with the fans were awkward too. While he drove me nuts, I was certainly in the minority as the crowd loved him. As for the game, it was a battle of blue ocean creatures as the Bridgeport Bluefish took on the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. The visitors built a 3-0 lead, but to the delight of the home fans, a Gustavo Molina blast tied the game in the 6th inning. Despite only six runs scored, the game past the 3 hour mark before going to extra innings (note to baseball at all levels: you need to fix 9-inning games that go longer than 3 hours!). We went to the 10th, where a Bridgeport run was answered by Southern Maryland in the bottom half. Casey Frawley was inches from winning the game, but his long shot hit the top of the wall and only one run scored. The Bluefish finally put the game away in the 11th and won 5-4. The trip home was thankfully pleasant as I took a route that avoided all traffic and tolls, getting back to NW NJ in less than five hours. Look for official reviews on the right-side of the page by next week.

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The Suns and The Keys

Posted by Sean Rowland on June 2, 2015

Frederick's Carroll Creek Park

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I’ve often had to look at the Northwest part of Maryland on a map for work purposes and this trip was nice to put a better visual in my mind. The small cities of Frederick and Hagerstown are just a half-hour apart and they both have a single-A baseball franchise, thus making for a convenient weekend visit. I started in Frederick because that city has more to see and Saturday’s game was in the evening. It was jammed downtown when I pulled into a parking garage and the plethora of 20-somethings made sense once I saw they were headed to a
Craft Beer Fest. The City of Clustered Spires really has become a trendy, hot spot for those looking to get away from DC, but still close enough to commute. I absolutely loved this downtown with Carroll Creek Park being the highlight. A remarkably creative flood control project done over the last few decades has turned this creek into a calm and stationary stream of water that the city built around and turned into a mini-version of San Antonio’s RiverWalk. As evidenced by the beerfest, this is a great place for events and for citizens to take a walk and enjoy the day.  Especially awesome is the Community Bridge, an artistic mural with so many intrinsic details and images that the public contributed to. The park is less than ten years old and further expansion/development plans are just going to enhance what is a terrific place in the city.

The rest of the downtown area is great as well with so many historic buildings and stories on displays along the way. This is a place with a colorful past, especially during the Civil War era and a walking tour illustrates that quite well. I had lunch at Firestone’s and while the bar was great, the food as eh. Shoulda picked Brewer’s Alley. There are tons of choices in this city, including Brian Voltaggio’s Volt (I love Top Chef, but didn’t feel like getting a super fancy meal). After strolling thru town some more and picking up soda at a cool Pop Shop, I headed to the hotel a few minutes away to rest a bit from the heat.
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Harry Grove Stadium Interior

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The Keys game was at 6 PM and a good crowd joined. Of course, the usual reason for a decent draw at a minor-league baseball game is fireworks and that indeed was the case here (I try to avoid fireworks night to get a more accurate gauge of fan support/atmosphere, but this was inevitable). After walking thru the oddly elongated parking lot and getting past the 10 minute wait at will call, I found a ballpark very common amongst Orioles affiliates. Though on the older side (1989), Harry Grove Stadium has the usual features seen in places like Aberdeen, Bowie and Delmarva…a middle aisle in the seating bowl, a carousel, an intermediate press box and a design laid out in brick (in this case, somewhat drab in color). The home of the Keys was built just on the cusp of the ballpark boom and they have at least made some efforts to personalize the park, like the orange lower seats. Displays however are sorely lacking. The crowd also partakes in a cool tradition during the middle of the 7th inning, where the fans shake their car keys as a corny, yet catchy and enjoyable theme song plays. In the game, Frederick just could not overcome the 6-spot that the Lynchburg Hillcats put up in the first inning. Offensively, the Keys would exceed that number, but pitching/defense let them down in the fourth inning as well with another six runs scored by the Hillcats. By the way, it’s almost impossible to spot a home run ball thanks to the three tiers of advertisements on the outfield wall and the invisible yellow line. Frederick ended up falling to Lynchburg, 12-8 in a 3 hour, 25 minute game, badly illustrating why the “A” level leagues need the same time rules that AA and AAA have this season. One final note, keeping in mind seating capacity is 5,400. The announced attendance was 8,344. Estimated actual attendance by me…4,000 (see picture above). Yikes, inflating numbers sadly remains alive.

Sunday started with me doing some forecasting. Given their topography, Hagerstown is a favorable spot for t-storms and I was fairly convinced they would get one on this day. It was almost enough for me to consider an alternate plan (like maybe heading down to Woodbridge, VA for a game instead), but I decided to risk it and dearly hope the scattered nature of the storms would work in my favor. Before heading to the Hub City, I traveled US 40-Alt, better known as The National Road, the first true road in this country. Taking me through small places like Middlestown and Boonsboro, I began the morning at the first Washington Monument, located in it’s own State Park along the Appalachian Trail. While the monument was enjoyable, it was the view from the top that was really worth the short hike (and to get away from the gnats at the bottom). On this Sunday, they also had a demonstration featuring the firing of a Civil War era cannon. While many think of Gettysburg and that part of PA as “Civil War”, this section of Maryland is so historical and the state does an excellent job displaying various markers and historical sites.
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Washington Monument

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I then went into Hagerstown, which is smaller with less to do than Frederick, yet still charming in it’s own right. I keep throwing around “historical” for lack of alternate words, yet this was another downtown that displayed it and I enjoyed walking around and admiring the architecture and informational markers. With a lack of touristy stuff in the city itself, I stopped into the visitors center and unexpectedly enjoyed a 30-minute conversation with Roger who’s wealth of local knowledge was remarkable. Small world in that he talked to me about Nathaniel Rochester, a resident of Hagerstown and founder of my hometown of Rochester, NY. There is also some German heritage in Hagerstown and a well-regarded Bavarian restaurant called Schmankerl Stube was my original plan for lunch. However the heat and humidity made me not crave a filling German meal, so I opted for 28 South, a trendy spot that was a great choice too.

With skies still clear, I got to Municipal Stadium early to get all of my pictures without any disrupting rain. At the same time, I wondered why do the Suns start their Sunday games at 3:05 PM instead of around 1 PM like everyone else? Anyway, mission accomplished with the pictures and I sat down for first pitch with dark clouds gathering. Despite the threat, amazingly we skirted the storms and came away with just some light rain that allowed for the game to be played in it’s entirety and myself rejoicing in a reasonable arrival time back home. The Suns are celebrating their 35th year in Hagerstown and that is an anniversary worth celebrating. Often the subject of a relocation, the team has survived despite neglect by both city and team ownership. Municipal Stadium is not exactly a cute, charming 1920’s era ballpark. Instead it is a deteriorating facility that was originally built on the cheap and badly in need of some TLC. While it’s unique to experience affiliated baseball without the classic appearance or usual shtick, the state of this ballpark and franchise is sad. As for the game, The Suns fell 7-5 and I have yet to see a new stadium home team victory in 2015. Look for reviews on the right later in the week. That wraps up a weekend of baseball in an area of the country I wouldn’t normally visit and I’m so glad sports brought me to Northwest Maryland.
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Municipal Stadium Interior

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Hoops with the Dukes and Vulcans

Posted by Sean Rowland on January 12, 2015

A.J. Palumbo Center

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Even though the temperature never exceeded 8 degrees on my drive across Pennsylvania Saturday Morning, a bright blue sky was all that mattered. I could deal with the cold since I wouldn’t be spending much time outdoors, but gloves were certainly needed for the exterior photos. My first visit to Pittsburgh in 2008 was awesome and I really enjoyed the city. Driving though is a pain as while all the bridges, rivers and hills make for spectacular sights, the roads are confounding. At least getting to my first destination was smooth and I arrived on the Bluff for Duquesne’s home basketball game around Noon. I also got a great view of the Consol Energy Center as the home of the Pens is a couple blocks from the A.J. Palumbo Center. After dropping $10 for parking (boo downtown campuses), I got inside the small corridor and into the arena. I liked the bright layout and though simple, there were enough quirks to keep me interested. A 2010 renovation really did this place wonders and turned it into a quality small arena. There are four sections of seating divided between A and B levels with the corners open. With only about 1500 in attendance, I picked the B3 section to sit in, which was a nice elevated upper area that sits over the hospitality area. Renovations also led to wide chairbacks and a really nice scoreboard. A couple suggested improvements to the staff: add some signage in the building for the somewhat hidden downstairs corridor on the north side of the building. I had no idea it existed and it led to more bathrooms, concessions and basketball displays. Also, turn down the sound system and the heat. Otherwise, the building is a step up from conference foes LaSalle and Fordham, but not as good as their opponent on the day, Rhode Island. Full reviews on the whole experience will be updated soon.

The small crowd was into it for the first half as the Dukes surprised Rhode Island with decent defense and they had multiple double digit leads before the half. As the Rams crawled back, the fans faded too and the comeback was complete as Rhody took their first lead in forever with just 1:14 left. Duquesne’s Micah Mason (who was impressive on the day) made a floater to put Duquesne back on top. Only 21 seconds remained when Rhode Island got the ball back and after they missed on the ensuing possession, a scramble for the ball led to a foul and Jared Terrell made both for a 61-60 lead. Given my history with Rhode Island, I was convinced I’d see something special as Duquessne’s Derrick Colter let a jumper go at the buzzer. But it was not to be and the Rams escaped, and I mean escaped, with a one-point win. Blah, I can’t stand that maniac Danny Hurley on the sidelines (he got T’d up during the game) and watching them run off the court with a win sucked. For the Dukes, it’s been since 1977 since they’ve made the NCAA tournament and fans unfortunately are accustomed to these stinging losses. Fun fact, this is the fourth time I’ve seen Rhode Island play and all of the games have been entertaining. They are 2-2 when I’m attendance.

My GPS had some issues with the downtown roads, confusing them for the overhead interstates, so luckily I wrote down the way to get to the Liberty Tunnel and out of the city. I was on my way to California…the borough. It took about an hour to reach Cal U of PA, for my first Division II arena. They built a Convocation Center that should have been called the Controversy Center instead. A corrupt and blind administration led the push for the $59 million, 5,000 seat building. Keep in mind that the combined population of the borough and the college is just 14,000. A feasibility study pushed for a smaller, cheaper building, yet the now fired Angelo Armenti got his way and the school is stuck in debt. Not one event has sold the place out, even graduation. It doesn’t end there as enrollment is down, the school just laid off 30 of their staff and the football team had to forfeit a game this year because of players involved in a brawl in the town. Yikes. So while yes, this facility is nicer than probably half of the ones in Division I, it has not come without problems.
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CalU Convocation Center

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Putting that aside, as you would expect for that money, it is a nice place. The brick building starts with a video message board on the outside showing flames (the school is known as the Vulcans). Deep red seats wrap around 3/4ths of the court and they extend a good distance back with a wide walkway overlooking the floor from the top end. When I walked in, I was surprised to hear so much noise as the women were wrapping up and the crowd was really into it. Turned out to be a great finish and Indiana (of PA) won in OT. As I got ready to watch the same two teams with state names do battle on the Men’s side, it was surprising to see a good chunk of the crowd gone. That energy from the earlier contest disappeared too as each time a basket was scored, maybe 10 people clapped. IUP made sure to keep the arena quiet (though half of the fans inside were their’s) as they jumped out to a 20-2 lead and never looked back. The Hawks took care of CalU 69-45.

I stopped at Spuds in the sleepy town and though they specialize in funky fries for college kids, I got a decent sandwich in the completely empty place and got to my hotel to catch the end of the Ravens-Pats playoff game. It was back to Jersey on Sunday and expect to see a pair of reviews up on the website later this week. I’ll be writing for Stadium Journey as well. It was definitely nice to experience some college basketball again!

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Kingston-Montreal Weekend

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 11, 2014

K-Rock Centre Exterior
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Before even reaching Canada, we had another overlying story to contend with this year. My brother joining me on the trip, Eric, had a leg infection discovered the day before and with the potential serious impacts that can result with spread or evolution of infections, at the first sign of a fever, we were out of Canada and into a hospital. Thankfully we made it thru both days as the leg healed and antibiotics helped the wound tolerable to walk on.

Aside from a constant rain in upstate NY, it was an uneventful ride, while the hilarious AutoRap app created the entertainment until arriving in Kingston. Once in the Limestone City, I got a first taste of winter with temps in the 30s, which is exceptionally cold when you are used to the mild temps of the prior season. We parked along Brock Street and grabbed lunch at the Golden Rooster Deli before fighting thru the biting wind to see the city. With a low skyline, the downtown is full of historic buildings, many of them filled with an eclectic mix of great restaurants. After getting some outdoor pictures of the nearby arena, we walked past the striking City Hall, down Ontario Street to the Great Lakes Maritime Museum. Though met with a strong sense of boredom by Eric, we checked out the very thorough and descriptive museum, which displayed everything marine oriented. Good for anyone with a strong interest in that, but it was a little dry even for me. I wanted to check out the Original Hockey Hall of Fame, but they are rebuilding and just have a few displays in their far away location.

Dinner was at Harper’s Burger Bar and then we walked to the Rogers K-Rock Centre, the only sports facility I know with the shameful double advertisement as Rogers bought the radio station, just like everything else it is snatching in Canada. The building rates very well and is overall nice with little touches that make it more appealing, like the hints of limestone and the nearby remnants of the original Fort Frontenac. Inside, the concourse features a Kingston Sports Hall of Fame, which includes Don Cherry as a member. A fairly standard oval bowl circles the rink, while at the top is a nice walk around feature for standing and drink rails. Festivities for Remembrance Day were quite touching before the game and a decent crowd was there for the event. The Frontenacs were not able to put on a good show as they were sloppy, lethargic and offensively challenged. North Bay opened the scoring in a rather dull game with a goal by Nick Paul at 11:21 of the 2nd. The killer was a PP goal with just 3.4 seconds left and the Battalion were in control as they led the shot total 22-13. By the way, those North Bay uniforms are hideous and I can’t believe they kept Brampton’s nickname when the franchise moved. Anyway, a pair of bad Kingston penalties led to another North Bay goal and it wasn’t until this point (halfway thru the 3rd) that the Frontenacs woke up. Spencer Watson finally scored with a little more than three minutes left and they were close to getting a second. Alas, North Bay added an empty netter and won 4-1. Overall, a decent arena in an even better location with a downtown worth spending some time before or after a game.

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Guy LaPointe Retirement

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Montreal was a three hour drive away and we left around 8 AM. It’s interesting how as you go further east in Ontario, the road signs are both French and English, yet the second you reach Quebec, any English in the signs disappear. The people however are very helpful in Southern Quebec with the language and it amazes me how bilingual Montreal is. The first stop was Mont Royal, where I led Eric in the wrong direction before getting us to the Chalet and the amazing overlook of the entire city. We scored parking for the day at a modest $10 in Place Bonaventure, a shopping/office complex that included our hotel. Getting out of the area was a maze as we looked like bumbling idiots trying to get out.

After reaching daylight, it was a decent walk to Old Montreal for lunch and some walking thru the historic streets. We saw the Basilica Notre Dame and Jacques-Cartier Place before making another long walk to the Bell Centre. I’ve read about Montreal’s Underground City and the miles of climate-controlled tunnels but where is it? Without finding an entrance, we walked in the cold and finally reached the ugly building late afternoon. The Bell Centre is such a blah brick building and there is a ton of construction around it. We spent time first at the wonderful Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame before going inside. My second time here and I still am not a fan of this place. It is too big and the only quasi-affordable seats in the upper-deck are ridiculously high up. Lots of obstructions block the rafters/scoreboard view from the 400 seats, along with really dark lighting. Now the atmosphere is another story as this is the Canadiens’ best feature with loud fans filling the arena with cheers and chants like “Go Habs Go” and “Ole”. Montreal also knows how to do ceremonies and I felt honored to be there on a night that Guy Lapointe saw his number retired. It was very classy and well-done. The pre-game intro was great too, but nothing like the one they were doing in the playoffs last year. After a slow start, a Brendan Gallagher blast gave the Canadiens the lead in the second period. Minnesota tied it up five minutes later, but a goal by Lars Eller with 50 seconds left in the period gave Montreal back the lead and then they scored a pair in the third as the crowd really started enjoying their Saturday Night. By a slight margin, old MSG was louder during a regular season game I saw, but this was close. One more walk to the hotel finished off 5.5 miles of walking on the day (whoops forgot Eric was on a bad leg). It was a tiring, but fun trip and look for a Kingston review late in the week and a Stadium Journey Bell Centre update later on.

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Colgate Football

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 7, 2014

Andy Kerr Stadium.

It was a rainy morning as I left Syracuse and it looked like all the rain gear I brought with me would be put to use for the Colgate game. It took about an hour to get to Hamilton and though the drive was awkward having to use country roads, it did allow me to pass through some pleasant little towns like Cazenovia and Morrisville. Hamilton was similar as this tiny village of just 4,000 sported a main intersection at the center with very little development on the outskirts. However, this primary meeting of roads represented a charming little downtown of brick buildings. The theatre and the college bookstore are most notable, while the white-painted Colgate Inn oozes history. Several places beckoned for an early bite to eat, but I chose the 22 Utica Street Cafe. Trip Advisor reviews of this are spot on as the cafe looks like it should be good…but my roast beef ‘special’ wasn’t all that and I’m not a fan of a place that does not put prices on their menu. $15 for a sandwich, homemade chips and a drink seemed a bit much. The owner also gave a lot of phony ‘sweeties and honey’s’. It is still an acceptable spot to eat, but my shortness on time led me to change plans for a quicker bite to eat here after originally planning on eating at the Inn. Another good place is the Good Nature Farm Brewery and Tap Room. After walking through the farmers market at the nearby park, it was time for some Raiders football.

The rain thankfully stopped and the soggy grass lot had a handful of both Holy Cross and Colgate tailgaters before the game. It was an odd entrance into the stadium as to get to the main stands, both the ticket stand and those checking tickets can be found right near the parking lot entrance. I had an odd encounter walking past the gate without even realizing and went through without even knowing I was in a ticket designated area. A little strange. Anyway, the main home stands arches upward with all bleachers and the visitors side contains a set of bleachers with a small press box on top. The best part of the experience is that beautiful surrounding view as the vibrant hills in the area are lit up with color in October. It certainly is a pleasant setting for football. The crowd was held back likely because of the weather and the laid-back game day setting applies to the crowd too. The game was refreshing as it is so great to watch football without incessant media timeouts. Colgate went old school as they used ground and pound to perfection in the second half. First, the Crusaders jumped out to a 17-7 lead and a key point of the game was Colgate cashing in with just :04 left in the second quarter as Alex Greenawalt hauled in a 14 yard pass to cut the deficit. A huge interception late in the third quarter led to a 14 play drive that QB Jake Melville finished off with a 1-yard run and the Raiders had the lead 20-17. With Holy Cross driving again deep into opposing territory, Peter Pujals made is second huge pick of the game to keep the Crusaders off the board. Then Colgate finished off the clock with a remarkable 15 play, 7:35 drive that ran the clock out for a victory. Every one of those plays was a run and the Raiders had 55 total rushes for 224 yards. A little bit of light rain and colder temperatures in the second half did not hamper the event and it was an enjoyable game in a nice football setting best seen in October. Look for a full review in a few days, along with a write-up over at Stadium Journey.

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My Rise and Fall with Syracuse Athletics

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 5, 2014

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Carrier Dome
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Lawrence Moten, Donovan McNabb, John Wallace, Marvin Harrison, Otto the Orange. These are just a few of the guys that were a big part of my sporting life while following the Syracuse Orangemen an hour and a half away in my hometown of Rochester. It was my favorite team, up there with the Bills and Sabres and that passion continued as I went to school in Oswego and got to attend both football and basketball games at the Dome. The culmination was that magical night on April 7, 2003 when I screeched and ran around campus after Kirk Hinrich’s shot fell short and Jim Boeheim raised his hands up as the Orangemen won the National Championship.

After making a career-move to New Jersey and following the incredible sharpshooting of G-Mac, Syracuse Athletics slowly started to evolve just like other Big-Time Athletics in the NCAA. Growing more towards the Kyle Whelliston school of thought, these were small things at first that were just annoying: Branding themselves as “New York’s College Team”, advertising in Yankee Stadium, following the college football fad of having matte helmets with crazy, funky designs and changing uniform colors. Then came the bombshell…A-C-C. Along with Pittsburgh, they were one of the first on the East Coast to make a major league switch and the conference change was for that almighty Benjamin in addition to more exposure (as if they didn’t have enough). With my frustration for the Power 5 conferences growing, along with my deepening love for smaller schools playing in geographically sensical leagues, the Syracuse Orange part of my life was fading. In 2012-2013, I was having a hard time enjoying their games and in basketball season, found myself openly rooting for Montana in the first round of the tournament. Last year, I stopped following ‘Cuse cold turkey and didn’t miss it. Not even my friends back home knew about my disloyal jumping of ship. Ending a favorite sports team relationship is so rare (and out of my character), but I just could not stomach being a fake fan of a team/school. All of the new directions from the program rub me the wrong way and yeah, I miss the good ol’ days, but continuing to follow and root for the Orange wouldn’t be honest to myself.

All of this brings me to today, where I returned to the sight of so much sporting change in my life. Being back amongst the Orange faithful did make me do some reconsidering as I got caught up in the pageantry of game-day, however my visit and review of Syracuse football comes from a purely neutral perspective. I will say though, it did give me great enjoyment to buy a $30 face value ticket (not including exorbitant TicketMaster fees) for just $8.25 on StubHub. Take That! My day in the Salt City began around Noon and I started downtown in the trendy Clinton Square section. Syracuse’s roads are surprisingly bad and misleading as twice I had to detour. The first was on my arrival as the garage I needed was on a road being repaired. Once parked, I ate at Kitty Hoynes and though I didn’t have the Reuben Fritters that Guy Fieri sampled…I did go with a Reuben, which was just meh. The pub did make for a good place to catch the Orioles-Tigers Game 2 playoff game. After wandering the area on a beautifully warm October day, I stopped at the free Erie Canal Museum. It was surprisingly enjoyable that improved by the exhibit, highlighted by the replica Line Boat and the displays inside. I still remember the song Low Bridge that I needed to learn in the 4th Grade. I also made a stop at Destiny USA, a shopping mall whose plans to become the biggest in the US were often delayed and cancelled when I was in college. Well they finally followed through with some plans, just not to the grand scale that was foreseen in the early 2000s. The third floor features an entertainment section with go-cart racing, bowling, restaurants, kid adventures and a Dave & Busters along with some other stuff. It was dead on a Friday afternoon, but it looks like I found a pit stop in several years for future kids on our way to see family.

I made my way towards the Carrier Dome pretty early for picture purposes and that means taking a shuttle bus from the Skytop parking area. Given that it was a Friday, tailgating was limited and I was one of only a few people on the bus at 5 PM for a game starting at 7. If one is not familiar with the area, it can be a little confusing as the shuttle also acts as a regular college transportation system and the Dome is not visible from the drop-off point. Usually first-timers can just follow the crowd, but this was not the case just yet. I spent a little time around with the diverse campus and I always loved how the Dome is right in the middle of it. However, I can never get a decent exterior shot and the surrounding hillside exhausted my efforts to find a good shot. After passing through the revolving doors and feeling that suction of air, I made a couple passes around the generally dank concourses. There are pictures on the walls to help liven things up a bit and it wasn’t until the very end that I found a few display cases worth perusing. Food remarkably remains terrible with practically every stand selling the same worn options of Hoffman’s Sausage Subs or German Franks. The beer on the other hand is flowing with different options all over (keep in mind, this is a rare on-campus facility to offer beer). I still love the Carrier Dome as a football stadium with the seating being intimate and the design decent. While the bleachers may be uncomfortable, pretty much anywhere offers a fine sightline. They don’t call this place the Loud House for nothing and the enclosed Dome setting makes it roar. I’ve been to Wisconsin, Penn State and Notre Dame and when it comes noise, I think Syracuse is loudest with less than half of the fans. This ACC opener only featured a stadium about 3/5ths full, but it was still very noisy, especially as everyone got up on third downs. Just imagine if the program did get back to prominence. The game was a sloppy affair as both turnovers and penalties hurt the Orange. A bad play call gave Louisville a safety in the first half and then poor clock management by QB Terrel Hunt led to time running out at the end of the first half as Syracuse was one yard from the end zone. The second half was not much better as a wide-open Jarrod West dropped a gimme touchdown. Louisville added on more (including another safety) and they won 28-6 as the Dome was empty with a minute left in the game. It was a fun event as I met up with my college roommate and friends and we finished the night by tailgating after the game. Ah the good ol’ days.

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