Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Oh, the Places You'll Go

A few days ago I ran across this blog, asking people to list all the different sports venues they've visited. I was intrigued and decided to participate, and here's the list I came up with for professional and college sports:

Major League Baseball

Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field
Great American Ball Park
Comiskey Park/U.S. Cellular Field
Shea Stadium
Jacobs Field
Comerica Park

Gund/Quicken Loans Arena

Joe Louis Arena

Minor League Baseball
Fifth Third Field (Toledo)
Fifth Third Field (Dayton)

College Football
Doyt Perry Stadium (BGSU)
Commonwealth Stadium (Kentucky)
Ohio Stadium (Ohio State)
Dix Stadium (Kent State)
Ford Field

College Basketball
Anderson Arena (BGSU)
Ervin J. Nutter Center (Wright State)
University of Dayton Arena
Gund/Quicken Loans Arena
The Palace at Auburn Hills
Savage Hall (Toledo)
M.A.C. Center (Kent State)
James A. Rhodes Arena (Akron)
Ohio University Convocation Center
Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center
Hinkle Fieldhouse (Butler)

Of all the places I've been as a visiting fan, my favorite by far has been Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. BG's basketball team played Butler there in the NIT a few years ago, and having heard what a great arena it is, I had to make the road trip. It was totally worth it, despite the fact that BG lost. It's a great college basketball arena with a great atmosphere. It's where they filmed the championship game for the movie Hoosiers. I'll definitely have to find an excuse to go back there sometime.

Another great experience was visiting Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium. I took my friends Amy and Doug down there for a football game when Ryan Brewer, a guy from Troy (Amy's and my hometown), played there as a member of the South Carolina Gamecocks. Decked out in our Carolina gear, the three of us ended up in a section filled with Kentucky fans who could not have been more friendly. I bantered and joked all through the game with the guy next to me, who was interested to find out how we became Carolina fans in Ohio. When the game was over and the Gamecocks had won (with Brewer scoring the game-winning touchdown), quite a few people came over to shake our hands and congratulate us. I was totally blown away by how friendly everyone was and how welcome they made us feel, even though we were fans of the opposing team. I'd like to go to another game there sometime as well.

On the flip side of that is Ohio Stadium, home of the Buckeyes. Brandi and I went to Columbus for a game when Bowling Green played there in '04. There, as opposing fans, we were not treated so well. There was no outright hostility, other than plenty of overheard comments about how BG didn't belong on the same field as Ohio State, but it was fairly clear that we weren't exactly welcome there. The usher wouldn't even help us find our seats when he saw our road orange--he directed a bunch of people coming through ahead of us, but he turned the other direction when he saw us coming. Beyond that we were basically ignored, which was fine. The funny thing, though, is that we went back the following week as Ohio State fans for a game against Northwestern, and then everyone we came across was extremely friendly. It was just an interesting contrast.

I was a little surprised, when I finished making my list, by how small it is (relatively speaking, of course). I feel like I've been to more places than that, given how much I enjoy attending sporting events. I mostly go to home events, though, since travel costs (not to mention ticket prices at some venues) are often prohibitive. I suppose it's possible that I've missed one or two, but I've been racking my brain and can't come up with any more.

What I'm interested in doing now is listing all the venues I've visited for high school football and basketball. That list, I can assure you, will be quite long. The difficulty in that will lie mainly in remembering all the places I've been. It'll be fun, though, and just like this list did, it should bring back some good memories.

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