Stadium and Arena Visits

Reviews and Photos of Arenas, Ballparks and Stadiums in the United States and Canada during Sporting Events

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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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The Big Southern Trip

Posted by Sean Rowland on May 2, 2017

We’re just a week away from the biggest trip of the year as the family hits the road for vacation and along the way we make some stadium stops. This was a thoroughly mapped-out trip and that should come as no surprise for those that know me. My wife (and I to some extent) want to visit each of the 50 states and with a two-year old daughter, we want to be strategic in what states to hit and when. This year, we settled on Mississippi and Alabama with the spring-time being a better time to make the trip, as opposed to the searing heat and humidity in the summer. Stadium-wise, that means ballparks are the venue, but May gives the chance to see not just professional baseball, but college as well and that is great given the popularity of the sport in the South. We are starting the drive on May 12, making stops along the way before settling in Hattiesburg, MS the evening of May 13. The following day, after a visit to the zoo, we’ll be at Pete Taylor Park to see nationally-ranked Southern Miss take on UAB. We’ll then make the short drive to Biloxi, MS after the game and spend the next 3 days touring the city and the Gulf Coast. One of those nights will feature the Biloxi Shuckers and a game at MGM Park. On Wednesday, we venture into Alabama, where a few days are devoted to the state capitol in Montgomery. There is a good amount to see and do there, which will fill the daytime and then at night, we’ll see the Biscuits play in their downtown stadium. In addition, I’ll also be checking out the city’s older ballpark, Paterson Field, which hosts the first game of the Alabama High School Baseball Championship series for each classification. The last day in Alabama before starting the journey home will be in the Loveliest Village On The Plains. If you know the SEC, you know that’s Auburn and we’ll stroll the college-town sipping lemonade from Toomer’s Drugs along the way before finishing at Plainsman Park for a Tigers baseball game. We’re really hoping the weather cooperates and everything goes smoothly as we look forward to visiting the Deep South (and enjoying some delicious, traditional food). I’ll probably try a day-by-day running blog during the trip, so check back!

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A Central New York Hockey Weekend

Posted by Sean Rowland on March 8, 2017

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Didn’t I say before that I was not going to be driving in anymore snow for a road trip (here, here and here)? Well, here we go again as a four-month hiatus from the sports tripping scene has me itching desperately for a visit and I’m hoping to thread the needle between areas of snow for a relatively stress-free drive. Once the snow ends late morning Friday in North Jersey, I’ll try to dodge post-storm snow showers and head up into Central NY for a weekend hockey trip. The first stop is Utica, where the AHL made a surprise comeback to the city in 2013 after nearly 20 years away. Friday Night’s game is against Bridgeport in their home, the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Every “Aud” I’ve come across has a special atmosphere and I’m hoping to see the same here. Then, as long as lake effect snow does not get impede my travels, I head an hour west to Syracuse for a return visit to the War Memorial Arena Saturday Night. I’ve seen the Crunch play a few times back in my college days (both were Rochester Amerks playoff victories!) and I’d like to update my review for a regular-season crowd. With St. John’s moving next year to Laval, I realized that after this trip I will have seen games in 10 of the 14 AHL Eastern Conference Arenas. The remaining four are all within driving distance, so I may strive complete the conference over the next few years.
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Back to Cornell

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 16, 2016

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For the second time in less than a year, I’m heading to gorges Ithaca, NY for a stadium and while last March was a re-visit to see basketball, this trip includes a new stadium. I have yet to visit Lynah Rink for a Cornell Hockey game and that is the plan for the visit this Saturday as the Big Red takes on Princeton. I’m excited to experience the Lynah Faithful as I’ve heard a lot of good things. Now Ithaca is a lengthy 3 hour drive from my location in Jersey, so it’s hard to justify spending more time in the car than in the destination, thus, I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to pair up hockey with football so that this becomes an all-day event. The schedule makers made it happen as Cornell takes on Penn at Noon in what will be my second visit to Schoellkopf Field. This is likely the final stadium trip of 2016 and it will be a productive year with 11 new venues visited. Back next week with a wrap-up of Cornell Hockey!
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Meeeechigan (and Buffalo)

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 20, 2016

 

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This is the one that I’ve been looking forward to all year as we are headed to a new state: Michigan! It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a new FBS stadium (2012 to be exact) and I was determined this season to get one. Originally, the plan was to visit the Queen City for a Cincinnati Bearcats, Reds and Miami of Ohio trip. That didn’t go so well for the home teams (0-3) and I had several other reasons a few months ago that made me want to look elsewhere. I stumbled upon a great college football doubleheader instead, with Eastern Michigan playing Wyoming this Friday Night and the Wolverines taking on Penn State Saturday Afternoon. I’ll be leaving Jersey on Thursday with a family overnight stop in Rochester, NY. My brother is accompanying me on this trip as we’ve started setting up a solid twice-a-year roady: Fall Football and Late Winter Hockey.

We’ll start the journey early Friday morning, cutting through Canada in the process. Hopefully the border crossings are quick as we’ll meet up with Paul Swaney for lunch in Ann Arbor. Paul is the owner of Stadium Journey and we met up once before when he was living in Chicago. He’s a great guy, fellow stadium/sports lover and he has done wonders building a website for those looking to partake in sports travel and I’m looking forward to seeing him again. We’ll then check out of some downtown A2 and campus before heading to Ypsilanti, about 20 minutes to the east. Our stay in Ypsi is short, but enough to see their primary sights like Depot Town and a famous structure perfect for a college town. Rynearson Stadium is the site for the 7:30 start for Eastern Michigan’s game against Wyoming. On Saturday, it’s back to Ann Arbor, where we’ll attempt to take in the full game-day experience around Michigan Stadium before heading to the 107,601-seat bowl for their game against Penn State. Sunday, is drive back day and originally, we were going to be heading to Orchard Park for the Bills-Cardinals game, but circumstances have changed those plans. I haven’t been back to the Ralph (err…New Era) since 2013 and it’s probably for the best given the potential debacle. Yes, I want to see the stadium post renovations, but No, I don’t want to be out $100, depressed and angry at a team that seems to do that to me every Sunday.  

(EDIT…My brother got free tickets and parking! In the club section no less. So we are back on to see New Era Field and while I still likely will walk out of there sad because of a dysfunctional 0-3 team, at least I’ll see the stadium renovations with no cost involved)

The weather looks nice and pleasant for this trip and I’m pumped to add these two new Michigan Stadiums to the list of visits!

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Tennis Anyone?

Posted by Sean Rowland on August 24, 2016

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It’s all about Connecticut on Friday as we have a (hopefully) two stadium visit along the coast of the Nutmeg State. Last year was my first live tennis experience at the Citi Open in DC and I’m looking forward to adding another one by heading to the WTA event held in New Haven. The Stadium Court is the third largest in the country with a capacity of 15,000 and the semifinals will be played there at 1 PM and 7 PM. Initially, I was planning on seeing the evening session, but a baseball rainout last month made me reconsider plans to add another stadium to the mix. Just an hour east is Norwich and that is where the Connecticut Tigers of the NYPL play. They have a 7 PM home game, so I will attend the less desirable (because of heat and player matchup) afternoon tennis session, then check out Dodd Stadium in the evening. It’s a 3 hour drive back home afterwards, which will make this quite a long day. There is the small threat of a shower or storm during that whole period, which would really screw things up if it rains during either of those events and I’ll keep my plans loose in case I need to change on the fly.

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To the Berkshires and Capital District

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 25, 2016

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After a wonderful family vacation on a Caribbean Cruise, I am happy to be back in the saddle and shortly after getting back to The States, we’re ready to hit the road for some stadiums. It’s been awhile since our last visit, especially given that I was at the Rockland Boulders wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. Thankfully, the relentless heat looks to break nicely for a pair of games this weekend. This trip is brief, but productive as I’ll leave NJ Saturday afternoon for the Berkshires. There lies Pittsfield and I’ll take in a Collegiate Wood-Bat League game at Wahconah Park, where I’m eagerly looking forward to going back in time to a truly historic stadium. After the game, I’ll stay in NY and avoid the outrageous hotel prices. The next game is in Troy, where the ValleyCats play against Lowell in a 5 PM affair. Not sure where I will spend my time before the game as I’ll either find something in Eastern NY or head back to Pittsfield (about 45 minutes from Troy) for the midday. Two ballparks if the weather cooperates and the latter stadium will get me to 6 NY-Penn League ballparks out of their 14. Back next week with a wrap-up!
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The Boulders Next Weekend

Posted by Sean Rowland on May 12, 2016

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We are back in live action next weekend as our next visit is one that is relatively close-by. Just an hour drive from me is Rockland County, NY and this residential, suburban area NW of NYC is home to the Rockland Boulders of the Can-AM League. Their ballpark (now called Palisades Credit Union Park) is five years old and it is also at the center of a federal investigation. Despite strong opposition from voters, Ramapo town leaders went ahead and constructed this ballpark with the cost ballooning to $60 million. Now, the main character in this fiasco was recently arrested in a federal indictment, where he basically lied about the financial status of the town. It’s not a good situation…but baseball continues to be played at the ballpark and I will be in town to check out the Boulders next Saturday (May 21) for a 6:30 PM game against Sussex County. Despite the financial troubles, we’ll see how the stadium and experience is for this independent franchise.

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