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Visiting Old Stomping Grounds

Posted by Sean Rowland on December 5, 2018

I’m heading back home on Friday, but just for 18 hours as I make a stop at the lone program in Rochester, NY at the Division I status. The Rochester Institute of Technology made the move in 2005, just after I graduated from Oswego and saw the Tigers make a visit to the old Romney Field House. Despite my jealousy in wanting the Lakers to also go from DIII to DI, I’m happy to see RIT at this level and they’ve done quite well, having made quite a bit of noise in their few NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2014, the team left the cozy confines of Ritter Arena to the beautiful, 4,000-seat Gene Polisseni Center. RIT plays in front of their students known as the “Corner Crew” and they’ve earned a solid reputation. The Tigers take on Sacred Heart at 7:05 PM and I’m especially looking forward to this one as my Dad and two brothers will be joining me. I’ll then drive 15 minutes up to my parents house in the suburb of Greece to spend the night.

The second day is another re-visit, as my goal of going back to places where I didn’t have a digital camera nears completion. The two hour drive will go to Olean, NY (ie. the middle of nowhere) as that is home to Saint Bonaventure University. It was all the way back in 2002 when I first went to the Reilly Center, when I had to get my film developed after taking pictures. I remember this visit so well as it was just my 6th overall and the first that really explored a new place that I wasn’t familiar with. It was holiday break from school and I went with a friend, remembering that we caught the beginnings of a storm as snow just began to cover some of the roads. It’s amazing the things you remember as I could still see us pulling in to campus and attendants directing us where to park. The fine details of those first 10 or so stadium visits will always be etched in my memory as I waited years to finally begin this venture. At that time, I was obsessed with college basketball and followed the Bonnies’ J.R. Bremer closely. The game featured former Saint Bonaventure coach Jim Baron returning with his Rhode Island Rams and Bremer dropping 29 in the first half. Not much has changed with this gym and this year, the Bonnies are struggling and it will be an uphill battle as they take on Buffalo. It’s a 4 PM game and I’ll head back to Jersey right after it wraps up. 

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A Football-Hockey Doubleheader Saturday

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 5, 2018

Football games in November are tricky as it is a roll of the dice for weather. The stadium experience can be awful if the weather is horrid and that thankfully does not look to be the case this coming Saturday (November 10th). I’m fine with cold and dry, plus the sunshine will help as I make my way down to the northwest suburbs of Philadelphia. That is the section known as the Main Line and it is where we find Villanova. Basketball gets all the attention and while I’m hoping to get to a game sometime soon at their redone arena that debuts tomorrow (Finneran Pavilion), I’m going to be at the football stadium on Saturday. The Wildcats frequently have had pretty good FCS teams, but this year has been strange. After a win against Temple, the team has faltered in conference play and they even were shutout in back-to-back weeks. They got a win last week and we’ll see if they finish up strong on Senior Day against William & Mary.

With the Villanova game taking place at 1:00 PM, I kept my eye on schedules to see if I can find something at night. I’ve been to nearly all the stadiums in this section of PA, thus making a re-visit was the best option and there is none better than the Hershey Bears. Their home, the Giant Center, is the top Minor League Arena that I have visited in my Rankings list. That visit came all the way back in 2006 and since I’ve done a lot of refining in reviews since those first 40 or 50 visits, I’m eagerly looking forward to getting back and seeing how the Bears experience stands up. It is a beautiful arena that is built well for hockey and Hershey is always one of the AHL’s top draws, so I’m expecting it to be a great event. That game is at 7 PM and the ride in between the two locations is less than two hours, so I should be good on time. I’ll have a recap of the day next week, along with detailed reviews not long after.

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A Football Weekend in Boston (kinda)

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 25, 2018

Friday football games may not be traditional, but they offer up the perfect opportunity for a stadium trip as they become part of a double (or triple) header. The schedule has set-up nicely for a Boston-area college football trip coming up this weekend. I say “kinda” in the title because neither campus is technically in the city of Boston. My brother will join me for an annual Fall tradition as we leave Friday Morning to reach Eastern Mass by midday. Our afternoon will be spent in Cambridge, an impressive city in its own right. We’ll see some of the sights and try to squeeze in a campus tour of Harvard University. Dinner will be somewhere in the vicinity of Harvard Square before we cross the Charles River for the 7 PM Crimson game against Rhode Island. The school may be in Cambridge, but Harvard Stadium is technically in Boston as the other side of the River is that city’s neighborhood of Allston. This will be my 7th Ivy League stadium and I’m hoping to complete the Ancient Eight next year (Brown-Patriots trip?).

On Saturday, Boston College is the setting for Stadium #203 and the Eagles will take on Temple in Alumni Stadium. I had to wait awhile for the game-time announcement and the Noon start made me reconsider options. We were planning on spending time in Boston on Saturday, but by the time we navigate the T and where our car needs to be parked for the game and after the game, it’s too much of a pain and not worth the limited available time. So, we’ll just head home after BC-Temple finishes. No worries, as there are plenty of facilities within Boston that are going to give some chances to see all the city has to offer down the road. We plan on arriving on “The Heights” well before game-time to walk around BC’s campus and see the unique Gothic architecture that it is known for. Back next week with a wrap-up on how it went!

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Nearing #200

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 30, 2018

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We are just one stadium away from hitting #200 on the all-time Visit list! Since it’s a milestone, we want to make it a good one and I think this one will be as we visit a relatively new soccer-specific stadium for an MLS team. It belongs to the Houston Dynamo as we look forward to seeing BBVA Compass Stadium in the EaDo section of the city. The game is Saturday Night and Sporting KC is the opponent. Summer in Houston means that I’m thankful for the 8 PM start as I’m hoping the heat is tempered a bit (just a bit?) with the loss of sunshine. So why only one stadium visit if I’m heading all the way down to Texas? This trip is part of a vacation where we are meeting up with family to take a cruise and the ship leaves from Galveston. That journey via Royal Caribbean will take us to Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. We’ll then head back home the day our cruise returns, though I strongly considered the afternoon Astros game, but time was too tight, especially with a little one in tow. We did want to spend some time in Houston (which is an hour from Galveston), so we decided to arrive a few days early for enough time to check out Space City. Our touring will take place in the Museum District before we grab dinner near our hotel downtown and then my Dad will be joining me for the Dynamo game. I’ll be back with a website wrap-up a few weeks later.

I enjoy reaching these milestones and this one should be a little more clear-cut than the last (#100). In the early stages of this project, I was still tinkering with my obsessively detail-oriented ways of how to chronicle these visits (very much to a fault). In the beginning, I had some stadiums on here where I didn’t see a game (just saw the building) and I also had stadiums visited where the capacity was under my set standards (thanks to false advertising). The Ryan Center’s distinction of being #100 got taken away as the Visits list was cleaned up a few years later and the official #100 became Notre Dame Stadium. Both were fine picks in their own right. Anyway, that was probably all pointless gibberish and serves as a small glimpse of the things I spend way too much time on in this project. In the end, BBVA Compass Stadium is the plan for #200 and while this milestone may not be on the Bucket List, it should be a very good stadium trip nonetheless!
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Conference and a Ballpark

Posted by Sean Rowland on June 24, 2018

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This coming week, I’ll be heading to the SIMA Snow & Ice Symposium for work and the host city is Cleveland. I’ve never been to Cleveland and I was pleasantly surprised to find a good amount to do in the city if/when we have any down time. It’s not just about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame here as there is a lot more than that. Our hotel is conveniently downtown and a five-minute walk to Progressive Field. My dramatic schedule unveiling to see if the Indians were home ended in disappointment as the team is on a road trip. I’ll still try to take a very early morning walk before the show to see an outside tour of Cleveland’s three major-league sports facilities that are all downtown. Now just because the Indians are away doesn’t mean the stadium scene is shot. Within an hour drive of the area, there are three ballparks. One of them, I’ve been to (Akron’s Canal Park), so it was down to two chances for a Tues-Thurs home game. The Lake County Captains were the winner as they are playing Fort Wayne at 7:00 PM Thursday Night. That Thursday timing worked well last year as the trade show wraps up around 5 PM and I did a similar thing in Montreal, by going to see the Alouettes play. This year, I’ll be driving and I’ll make the 20-30 minute drive out to Eastlake for the game and my first Midwest League ballpark. If I get there early enough, I’m hoping to try authentic Croatian food or at least make a stop at Biagio’s for one of their famous donuts. The weather looks good right now and looking forward to visiting Classic Park later this week.
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North Carolina!

Posted by Sean Rowland on April 24, 2018


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The Tar Heel State, here we come! We’ll be taking a week-long family vacation on a visit to our 27th state, trying to get in as much of North Carolina as we can by going from the Mountains to the Piedmont to the Coastal Plain. Our mountain adventure we’ll begin in Asheville, the quirky “Portland of the East”. With both city and surrounding area offering plenty of attractions, we’ll be spending three days there. Given that it snowed just last week in the city, we’re really hoping for some pleasant weather, especially during a couple of our ventures into the higher elevations of the Blue Ridge. Saturday is going to be the first of several official stadium visits, as we’ll be at Historic McCormick Field for an evening Asheville tourists game. Midweek college baseball is a schedule planner’s savior and for this go around, we’ll be taking advantage of the Tar Heels having a home game (ironically, against UNC-Asheville). The afternoon will be spent in Chapel Hill before going to Boshamer Stadium. Piecing the next part of the trip took some thought, but a weekday late morning game in Kinston an hour away worked well with the schedule. That’s where we’ll see the Down East Wood Ducks at Grainger Stadium. Now unfortunately, I think you all know what a Wednesday 11:00 AM game means…School Day. Kids, screaming kids will be everywhere we turn and I’m hoping we’ll be able to find a corner of the stadium to keep my sanity that day. Right after the game, we’ll head south to the beach with a few days in the Wilmington – Carolina Beach area. The Seawolves (UNC-Wilmington) aren’t in town, so that will be a sports-less few days that I’m sure the wife and daughter will be happy about. Towards the end of the week, we’ll drive up to Bull City, where we’ll spend time in Durham. I was really hoping that USL’s, North Carolina FC would be playing in nearby Cary, but they are unfortunately on the road. I wouldn’t exactly call a visit to Durham Bulls Athletic Park as “settling”, because that should be an awesome stadium visit in and of itself. I’ll also be taking in a brief bonus game Saturday afternoon as North Carolina Central University plays at the original Durham Athletic Park (scene of Bull Durham). They have an afternoon doubleheader and though the stadium doesn’t meet capacity for The List, it is well worth checking out. The venture gets kicked off later in the week and let’s cross our fingers for no rainouts! I will try to give a daily update on the blog, depending how early I zonk out each night. Until then!
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An Adirondack Hockey Adventure

Posted by Sean Rowland on March 12, 2018

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Despite the upcoming first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, hockey is the sport of preference this weekend as we head north for what should be a special trip. When it comes to history, it’s hard to beat the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, now known as Herb Brooks Arena. Of course that is the site of the 1980 Olympics and the Miracle on Ice. The arena does host a few hockey tournaments and for the last five years, it has held NCAA Division I conference tournament action in the form of the ECAC Semifinals and Final. It is a perfect home given the location of Lake Placid with respect to league members, not to mention how awesome the town and arena is. Stars aligned for this weekend to be available for me to make a trip and my brother will be joining as we look forward to time in Lake Placid before the championship game Saturday Night in the historic venue. To complete the road trip, before we get to the Adirondacks, we’ll stop in Glens Falls Friday Night to see their Civic Center and an ECHL game with the Thunder. We’ll have some periodic snow at times to start and hopefully that does not disrupt our weekend plans as this promises to be a special trip. Back next week with a wrap-up.

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A Few Firsts Next Weekend

Posted by Sean Rowland on January 20, 2018

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The last few years, I’ve really upped the amount of stadium trips that include multiple games and the use of a hotel. That’s because we’re down to only 11 local available stadiums remaining as I consider anything within a 2.5 hour drive doable without an overnight stay. I’m going to make one of those visits next Saturday as I check out the Harrisburg Heat. That leaves me with five relatively close-by winter venues: Villanova Basketball, NJIT Basketball, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Long Island Nets and a High School Tournament in Pottsville’s Martz Hall. My plan going forward is to leave those arenas as backup plans in future years, just in case a bigger trip gets cancelled due to the multiple things that could come up during the winter (bad weather, work, sick, etc). Back to Harrisburg, this should be an interesting one as it is my first ever indoor soccer game. The league goes back ten years, but professional indoor soccer has a deeper history than that as teams like the Milwaukee Wave and Baltimore Blast date back to the 80s and 90s. The Heat play in a type of building that will also be a first for me: the Large Arena at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex. The Farm Show just wrapped up last week and it is one of the largest agricultural gatherings in the US. Within the large complex, one of the buildings is a 7,500-seat venue that during the event hosts everything from rodeos to pony-pulling contests to tractor square dancing (yup, that’s right! check it out!). After a few years at the smaller Equine Arena in the complex, the Heat moved their home games to the bigger venue three years ago and I will be there next Saturday Night for a 7 PM game against Florida. Depending on when my wife gets out of work earlier in the day, I’m hoping to spend some time at the PA State Museum downtown before heading to the game. This will be second time in Pennsylvania’s Capital City as I got to check out some of the sights during a 2013 visit to FNB Field. Check back with wrap-up of the Heat game later next weekend.
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An Upcoming Weekend Stadium Trip

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 6, 2017

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Last year, I had a trip planned to Wisconsin for Badgers Basketball and a couple hockey games. Those plans were derailed by an accident that required surgery, which meant I at least got an exchange on my plane ticket. With that ticket only good for a year, I’ve been searching for the right set-up and it was found in Michigan this weekend. The combination of game times, flights and region familiarity made this the trip I decided on. I’ll fly out to Detroit and arrive Friday Afternoon, which (hopefully barring delays) will give me time for the evening Michigan Hockey game at Yost Ice Arena in nearby Ann Arbor. When I cram as many stadiums as possible into a trip, I usually look for a place that I’ve already been to, so I don’t feel jipped in missing that city’s attractions. In this case, I was in Ann Arbor a year ago and did some sightseeing while in town, so the limited time here is ok. On Saturday, I’ll drive an hour north to Flint, where I will indeed be spending some leisure time and I look forward to proving that the city is not as bad as the media portrays it to be. A museum, the Farmers Market and a walk downtown proceeds an afternoon matinee with the OHL’s Firebirds as they take on Sault Ste. Marie. Right after the game, it’s back to A2 for the start of the college basketball season! It pained me not to visit my favorite type of stadium last year and I very much am looking forward to seeing the Wolverines season opener at the Crisler Center. The final game of the weekend will be in the town next door as the beautiful Convocation Center in Ypsilanti will host the Eastern Michigan basketball game during the afternoon. Crossing my fingers for smooth sailing as this trip includes a bucket list facility (Yost), my 5th OHL arena (25% of the league) and a couple games featuring my favorite sport. Back next week with a wrap-up and the reviews of each facility!
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Rebonjour!

Posted by Sean Rowland on June 13, 2017

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Hello again Montreal! I’ll be back in one of my favorite cities for a good chunk of time next week as our company will be exhibiting at the SIMA Symposium. It’s a show that I periodically join co-workers for and to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the show, they are heading north of the border to Montreal. Lucky for me, the home opener for the Alouettes is on the Thursday we are in town and I will be able to make it with the game starting at 7:30 PM. This will be the first CFL game I attend and I’ll have to brush up on the rules as they do differ between the two countries. Percival Molson Stadium seems like a great introduction to the league as the setting on the hills of McGill University combined with the stadium history makes for an exciting venture. Plus, I’ll be able to use mass transit to get there as the stop for the free bus shuttle to the stadium is within walking distance to our hotel. Back next weekend with a wrap-up!

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