Adieu Stadium Trip

Well that was fun. What was once only a dream became reality as we accomplished what so many told us was impossible and hit all 30 MLB stadiums in one summer. I know it has been a few weeks removed from the end of the trip, but I did want to give a final recap on the summer.

I have probably been asked the same questions roughly 200 times over the last few months as I have been explaining the trip to whoever is willing to hear about it. What’s your favorite stadium? What’s your least favorite? Best food? Best city? Most expensive ticket? Best seats? How much did it cost you? How is your car doing? Are you crazy?

I’ll try and give a quick breakdown of the questions:

Favorite Ballpark: This is hard. Really hard. What I first need to say is that I am mightily impressed with so many of the parks that are now standing for the 30 MLB stadiums. There are so many spectacles and cool looking parks with more to do then I could have ever imagined that to narrow it down to one would be almost impossible. As a biased Red Sox fan, I will still say that my favorite place to watch a game is Fenway Park. I can’t give an unbiased answer to that, but there really is just nothing like a game at Fenway. But for everything about a stadium, my winner would have to be AT&T Park in San Francisco. The atmosphere at the game, the aesthetic look of the place, the ocean backdrop, and everything else about the park really stood out and if I had to pick one to be my favorite, this would be it.

Least favorite: This is a toss up between 2 stadiums. And there is no close 3rd. It is between the Oakland Coliseum and Sun Life Stadium in Miami. Both are far and away the 2 worst facilities in baseball. There was a bit more to do in Miami, but only barely, to probably give the title of worst stadium to the Oakland A’s and their Coliseum. It is sad to think that just a few miles away sits such a gorgeous park in San Francisco and here the A’s have to play in this dump. It doubles as a football stadium and also hosts the Oakland Raiders but I sure hope the A’s can move out sometime soon. It is a shame that all those A’s fans have to endure this kind of park when nearly the entire league is playing in a giant modern stadium with so much great stuff happening at the park.

Food:It’s hard to say what my favorite food was. Due to budget restraints and my new diabetic diet, I was not able to eat a ton of ballpark foods so this is tough to answer. My favorite hot dog was in Minnesota and my favorite specialty food was probably the skyline chili dog in Cincinnati. I was amazed at how many specialty stands and foods are now at ballparks.

City:My favorite city was probably Chicago. We didn’t get to stop and spend time in every city but we were able to spend a few days in Chicago and I really loved the place.

Ticket: The most expensive ticket we had to buy was in Minnesota and again there was no close 2nd. I don’t think we paid more then $30 for any other ticket but in Minnesota we paid around $60 for standing room only seats. The novelty of a new park combined with a beautiful Saturday night and a 1st place time will do that.

Seats: The best seats we had were in Tampa as we sat a few rows back of the Rays dugout courtesy of our family having some good connects. We also had some great seats in Kansas City, Detroit, Los Angeles, and of course in Boston. Most of the time we sat in the upper decks for much of the game and would sometimes move around during the game depending on how strict the ushers were.

Cost: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “how the hell can you afford this” at some point this summer. The truth is it was not as expensive as some think. The key to this was the amount of connects we had in all of the cities for hospitality. This is the unpredictable part and why I tell everyone that the cost will be different depending on how many nights you need in a motel. I believe that on the 60 day voyage we stayed in a motel about 12 nights, which means that the other nights we were either in the car, with friends or with family somewhere in the country. We were very fortunate to have so many different people help us along the way by offering their homes or apartments, providing us food, buying us tickets, and joining in on the fun. This brought the total cost of the trip down a lot. A rough estimate would say that between my brother and I we spent a combined $5,000 for the 2 months. It was somewhere around $2,500 a person between the gas, the food, the lodging, the tickets, and miscellaneous costs. Not too bad for the summer of a lifetime.

Car: The car is doing well. The ’97 Corolla suffered a minor fuse problem early but other then that there were no real issues with her. She endured the heat of Florida, Texas, and Arizona. She made the coastal drive up California. She climbed the hills in San Francisco. Then the mountains in Colorado. She cruised along through the Midwest. Traveled into Canada and up to Toronto. And then all the way back to Boston where she left 2 months prior. A real unsung hero of the trip as without her there would be no trip, a special thanks to the ’97 Corolla for taking us around the country.

And for all of those who have called me crazy for just thinking of this trip, you may be right, but I will say that these 2 months were easily the best 2 months of my life. I got to see the whole country, got to see every Major League Baseball stadium and watched baseball as a fan almost every night. What more could you ask for on a vacation.

I would like to give a special thanks to everyone who made this possible. From the donators who generously donated $$$ for my college graduation, the many many people who let us stay with them in their city, the people who saw us in their city and got to be apart of history, and to my blog followers who continued to show support throughout the summer, I genuinely thank everyone who was involved in some way over the last few months. I really could not have done it without everyone involved.

And I know I keep saying I, I, I, but although he was not writing the blog, I want to give a special thanks to my brother Alex who was with me throughout the trip. He endured the same long drives, grueling schedule, and sporadic eating schedule as I did. Again, the trip could never have occurred without another person as I could have never made these drives alone. So a special thanks to Alex for deciding to give up his summer of making roast beef at the KRB and coming along for the journey.

Well I could go on and on but this is starting to sound like an Oscar speech. I’d like to get into some lists before I sign off for the final time. Here is a breakdown of some of the things we saw/ate along the way.

Hot Dog Rankings

1. Minnesota
2. Los Angeles
3. Tampa Bay
4. San Diego
5. New York (NL)
6. Anaheim
7. Milwaukee
8. Atlanta
9. Miami (Florida)
10. Boston
11. Pittsburgh
12. Toronto
13. Detroit
14. San Francisco
15. Chicago (NL)
16. Chicago (AL)
17. St. Louis
18. Seattle
19. New York (AL)
20. Cincinnati
21. Philadelphia
22. Kansas City
23. Colorado
24. Houston
25. Phoenix (Arizona)
26. Oakland
27. Cleveland
28. Baltimore
29. Washington
30. Arlington (Texas)

• Some of these were eaten on dollar dog night and may not have been the same hot dog that the stadium usually carries.

Favorite Stadiums:

1. AT&T Park (San Francisco)
2. PNC Park (Pittsburgh)
3. Camden Yards (Baltimore)
4. Comerica Park (Detroit)
5. PETCO Park (San Diego)
6. Safeco Field (Seattle)
7. Angel Stadium (Anaheim)
8. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (Texas)
9. Target Field (Minnesota)
10. Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati)
11. Busch Stadium (St. Louis)
12. Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia)
13. Progressive Field (Cleveland)
14. Turner Field (Atlanta)
15. Nationals Park (Washington)
16. Coors Field (Denver)
17. Yankee Stadium (New York)
18. Kaufmann Stadium (Kansas City)
19. Citi Field (New York)
20. Chase Field (Phoenix)
21. Miller Park (Milwaukee)
22. Minute Maid Park (Houston)
23. Rogers Centre (Toronto)
24. Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles)
25. U.S. Cellular Field (Chicago)
26. Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay)

27. Sun Life Stadium (Miami)
28. Oakland Coliseum (Oakland)

You will notice that I did not rank Wrigley Field or Fenway Park. After much thought, I felt that it would be unfair to rank these amongst the other stadiums. They are so different and great in different ways that I did not want to compare them with the rest of the league. I also purposely left a gap for the final 2 symbolizing how much worse they were then the rest of the league.

The rankings are mostly based on look of the park and have less to do with amenities at the stadium. Tampa Bay probably had the most going on in their concourse which was very surprising, but I could not rank the stadium higher because I just don’t like the place.

I think that about wraps things up. If I think of something else that I forgot to post or say I will come back and make another post. But this could be the end. It has been so much fun and so great to interact with everyone this summer. One last thank you to all who were involved and followed. Make sure to follow me this fall when I go to 30 NBA arenas in 60 days! Kidding! But for real, if anyone ever is planning a baseball road trip or has any questions feel free to ask. As much as I wrote on here this summer, there is so much more I could say about everything I saw.

I will now be working away in Ithaca, NY as a grad student in Sports Management. Not everything I did this summer was for entertainment; I also met up with some front office executives to discuss social media trends which I will now be using at school for a project. I look forward to rehashing all of my notes and getting the chance to relive some of the memoires I had this summer. Another thank you to all of the executives who took time out of their work day to meet with me throughout the summer.

I know this is sad but it had to come to an end at some point. I will be still be tweeting off of 2010stadiumtrip and checking back on this blog every so often. Just leave a comment if you want to get in touch with me and I’d be happy to talk. And be sure to check out many more pics via the Facebook page on the sidebar.

For the final time…So long summer. So long fans. So long 30 Stadiums in 60 Days. It was fun!

Home Sweet Fenway

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And then there was one. And not just any one, but the one. The place where I have seen my first game, the place where I have grown up, the place that I consider a second home; Fenway Park. Almost all of my favorite lifetime memories have come while sitting here at America’s Most Beloved Park. When Varitek punched A-Rod, when Manny ended Game 2 of the ALDS in ’07 , when Roberts stole second followed by another Papi walk off homer in the ’04 ALCS, I was here. So, I purposely planned this trip to cover the other 29 parks before returning back to Fenway and finishing at home. I would consider myself a Fenway expert, but I still brought my notebook to the park and strolled around as if I were a tourist visiting the park for the first time.

It was a rain soaked Sunday afternoon at the Fens which took a little away from the atmosphere. Luckily, because I have been here so many times I really didn’t need to get a sense of the fan enthusiasm or excitement from this one day. Part of what makes the Fenway experience so special are the fans and their passion for the team. I love being apart of this Nation and sharing that passion with them at each and every home game I attend. I began the afternoon by walking down Yawkey Way which now requires a paid ticket to the game. I can’t recall the exact year when they changed this street and turned it into the circus it is today, but I know it was sometime in the past decade. Fenway has very limited space and the Red Sox do the best they can with the space they have. It was built back in 1912 and has undergone many renovations since, but it still remains to be Major League Baseball’s oldest standing ballpark. Back to Yawkey Way. This street sits right outside of the main entrance and now has all sorts of festivities going on. There are a ton of food vendors, trumpet players, a juggling man on stilts and a whole bunch of tables providing a real circus feel. This has been apart of the Red Sox effort to try and connect more with their fans and give them more then just the game. The team store is across the street from the park which, to the best of my memory, was the only team store that was not connected to the stadium. After taking in the atmosphere outside, I walked in to the historic landmark that is Fenway Park.

The feel inside Fenway is hard to describe. Similar to Wrigley Field, you can feel the history of the ballpark with every step inside the small overcrowded concourse. Again, there are no playgrounds or virtual arcades here at Fenway which is the way it should be. The Red Sox do not need any additional entertainment at the time being. They just surpassed 600 consecutive home sellouts which is an MLB record. I took my time walking around the concourse noting some of the food stands that I overlook on most days. But before I get to the food, I’ll mention that some of the renovations that Fenway has undergone over the past decade. The new Right Field concourse offers a much wider picnic type area with lots of food and also has a smaller team store in the vicinity. The most notable change has probably been the Monster Seats which now sit atop the famed Green Monster in left. It is such a unique setting and is just part of the reason why games at Fenway are so special.

The food at Fenway has provided many of my lunch and dinners over the past 15 years. I used to pretty much stick to the Fenway Franks, but they just recently made a change to the dog and I am not as big a fan. Some of the New England favorites can be found here with items like lobster rolls and clam chowder. There are a few Dunkin Donuts stands which Bostonians would be lost without. Out on Yawkey Way you can find things like El Tiante (Cuban) and a smokehouse with some tasty meats. Inside, I found a small Irish pub which provided some Irish beers like Guinness and Smithwicks. There is also a local pizza chain, Papa Ginos, which offers some great pizza. There were steak tips, sausages, nachos and all of the rest of the ballpark food found across the country. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants surrounding the park which are almost always crowded before and after the game.

The game on this day was the least of my concern. At the park where I have had near heart attacks watching some nail-biting action, I decided that I was just going to take in the park on this Sunday afternoon. And, as I previously mentioned, the weather was ominous. We sat through a 90 minute rain delay before seeing the first pitch thrown and then saw 3 innings of play before rain halted play again. I was able to hang with a fellow member of Red Sox Nation/Syracuse alumn during the delay which was nice (thanks for making it to stadium 30 Caroline). After the 2nd delay, I had seen enough and did something I have never done before (at least to my memory). I left Fenway before the game was called (due to time constraints) and ended up watching the remaining portion of the game from a local bar in my hometown as I celebrated the end of the trip (shout out to the Framinghammers who came to celebrate). The Red Sox won 5-0 behind another brilliant outing from Cy Young candidate Clay Buchholz. Unfortunately, since then, the Red Sox have fallen nearly out of the playoff race and their season looks to be over. But, until they are mathematically eliminated, anything can happen and I’ll keep hoping for a 2004 like miracle.

This would wrap up the trip and conclude one hell of a summer. I’m going to write one more final post with all of my final thoughts and final charts/numbers/rankings soon. So with that said, I’ll end this post here.

30 Stadiums down. 0 to go

Fenway Park done. On to…. Grad School

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The Stadium

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As much as I hate that title, Yankee Stadium is often referred to as simply The Stadium, and because I’m on a stadium tour being as unbiased as possible, I will let it stand.

We made it back to New York City. After nearly 8 weeks of driving and stopping at 28 stadiums we were finally back in New York and ready to go to the boogie down to see the new Yankee Stadium for #29. It has been quite some time so if you forgot, we started this trip at Citi Field back in June and nearly 60 days later we were right back in NYC where it all began. We drove from Philadelphia in the afternoon and arrived in the Bronx around 6pm after some heavy traffic getting over the GW Bridge. But, this still gave us plenty of time to walk around this new cathedral of a stadium and we were ready to take it all in.

I had been to the old Yankee Stadium on a few occasions and was really looking forward to seeing the new one. I had heard a lot of good things about the place and wanted to see it for myself. By now, if you have been following the blog, you probably know that I am a huge Red Sox fan so by default it was difficult being amongst all of the Yankee fans inside the stadium. I did, however, try and remain as unbiased as possible and take in everything I could while here. Upon entering, I met with some of my New York contacts who were willing to join us at the park for stadium 29 (2nd time shout outs for both Bobby and Lanie). Always nice to have people join us at the games to enhance the experience. Then we entered the park. The first thing I noticed was how big and clean the new concourse was. I remember the old Yankee Stadium being very dirty, but right off the bat I noticed a tremendous difference in the new one. One of the highlights of Yankee Stadium is Monument Park, which sits in the outfield and displays some of the Yankee greats. Also in the outfield was a bar/restaurant called the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar which was a somewhat private club like area providing great views of the stadium. The deal in here was that you were only allowed access if you were a season ticket holder and added this bar access onto your plan, or purchased single game tickets in the front row of the bar which were in the vicinity of $90 a ticket. I will admit that it was a very nice looking bar and was crowded when we were given temporary access. Also in the park was the Yankees museum, which I passed on seeing, but I’ll assume it was what you would expect a Yankees museum to be. There literally seemed to be hundreds of different club areas and small bar areas (a bit of hyperbole but there were a lot) which was the major difference I noticed in the new Yankee Stadium. The on the field look did not differ very much from the old park and not being an expert on the stadium, I had a hard time telling the difference between the two. I also would like to credit one of my guests and fashion expert for noting that part of the concourse felt like a prison because of the brick walls and so many fans in pinstripes (thanks Lanie). And of course I had no complaints calling this place a prison although that may be a bit harsh.

The food here was pretty overwhelming. And that’s in a good way. There was so much stuff and so many different stands you could really choose from almost anything here at the stadium. Some of the notable food items were the Had Rock Café which appeared to be a full size restaurant. NYY Steak also looked to be a very nice full size restaurant in the stadium. There was a Johnny Rockets, a Carvel, kosher stands, sushi stands, and a nachos stand called Holy Guacamole. I also saw Cuban food, Latino food, panini’s, and even came across a Farmers Market which had fresh fruits and vegetables. The Nathans hot dog was very good but the bun was only ok so we’ll see where it ranks on the hot dog list.

The game was pretty much what I expected. The Tigers were in town and the pitching matchup was Bonderman vs. Mosely so I expected a lot of runs and that’s what we got. The ball was flying out of the stadium as we saw home run after home run from guys like Cano and Teixeira which eventually led to a 9-5 Yankees win. Miguel Cabrera homered twice for the Tigers but it wasn’t enough. As much as I was unhappy with this result, the crowd was very enthused and it was certainly one of the better crowds we’ve seen on the trip. As much as I can’t stand them, I’d rather they be into their team then not baseball fans at all. And we were lucky enough to meet one of the real die-hard bleacher creatures, and fellow Syracuse alumn, a man that needs no real introduction and is simply known as JJ. It was great to see him in his element out in the bleachers and we got to talk a little baseball. This added to the game experience and gave us a chance to see some of the Yankees finest fans out in the bleachers stumbling around as the game came to a close.

We wrapped up Yankee Stadium which was a major milestone of the trip. Although the trip was not officially over, this was somewhat of a pseudo finish as the only park left on the trip was Fenway Park; where I have been hundreds of times and is like my home. Although we were originally going to hit Fenway the next night, I delayed the final game back a few days so I could make a pit stop in Ithaca, NY for a mandatory orientation that I had to attend before coming to grad school the following week.

29 stadiums down. 1 to go.

Yankee Stadium done. On to the next one….

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Hanging in Philly

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We arrived in Philadelphia early last Tuesday morning. By this point of the trip there wasn’t too much brotherly love going on so it was great to be with some good family friends for our day in Philly (Thanks for hosting us Avershals). We took naps until the afternoon and then prepared for stadium #28; Citizens Bank Park.

We took the train down to the stadium with the loyal and passionate Phillies fans which was entertaining. After being all around the country it was good to be back on the east coast and get that rabid fan behavior again. We arrived at the ballpark around 5pm but instead of going right into the stadium, we took part in some good old fashioned tailgating outside the park. My brother and I both had some Philly connects in the area who joined us at the park and helped show us how tailgating was done in Philly. We were also joined by one of our family friends so we had quite a big group at this game. And I met an old friend from my hometown at the game who is now a Philly resident making this one of the better social experiences of the trip (shout outs to Eva, Nick, Dan, Jacob, and Jaime for showing us CBP). After some fun in the parking lots and a few minor medical scares, we made our way into Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.

This was yet another new stadium that opened back in 2004. I had been here a few times before, including earlier this year to see the Red Sox, but this time I paid closer attention to the attractions and details of the park. The first thing I saw when walking in was the Phanatic Phun Zone which featured a giant jungle gym for young ones to play. It looked to be one of the better ones I’ve seen. I then walked through Ashburn Alley which has a walk-of-fame for the famous Phillies of the past along with some of the restaurants that I will get into later. There was also a giant wheel for Phillies Trivia which looked pretty cool. And of course a speed pitch because every ballpark needs one of those. Elsewhere in the park I saw a Build-A-Bear shop and a caricature drawing station. There was a great vibe to the stadium and the place was packed so the atmosphere was great.

The food was also fantastic here at CBP. The line at Tony Luke’s says enough about how good the cheese steaks are. I was told that it always takes at least a full inning to wait on line to get one of these. There was also Harry the K’s Bar and Grille which appeared to have 2 levels and feature all kinds of good food along with providing stunning views of the park. Bulls BBQ and Chickie & Petes Crab Fries were also huge hits in the outfield concourse. There was also Campo’s cheese steak which I was told was good but nothing like Tony Lukes. There was also High and Inside pub which had a big ‘Open to the Public’ sign on it. In the front of the stadium was a restaurant/bar called McFaddens which was a great spot to eat/drink before or after a Phills game. The hot dog here was only average so I don’t see it ranking too high on the final list.

The game was a good one and part of what made it so great were the crazed fans that were passionate and vocal throughout. The two starters were Roy Oswalt and Barry Zito which would have been a real duel about 6 years ago. And this game had some major wild card implications as the Giants were in town who were neck and neck with the Phillies for the wild card lead. The Giants jumped out to an early lead after longtime Phillies left fielder and current San Francisco Giants leftfielder Pat Burrell hit a solo homer in the 1st (run on sentence alert), but the Phillies were able to battle back behind Jimmy Rollins 2 run single and Shane Victorino’s go ahead RBI double. The Phillies clung to a 4-3 lead for much of the middle and closing innings but would break it wide open with a 5 run bottom of the 8th to win it 9-3. And as it is tradition in Philly, after the victory the late great Harry Kalas serenaded the crowd with his rendition of “High Hopes”. I really can’t say enough about how great the game environment and atmosphere was here in Philly. I know the fans get a bad rap for things like throwing batteries and booing Santa Clause, but I love the passion that they bring and I would much rather have fans who are passionate then those who just go to games for the sake of it being an event.

We said our goodbyes following the game and went to spend the night in the Philly burbs before travelling to New York the next day. Another outstanding stop on the trip with some outstanding people.

28 stadiums down. 2 to go.

Citizens Bank Park done. On to the next one…. .

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What A View

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At long last, back to the blog! I know many of my loyal fans have been eagerly awaiting the final posts and I’m happy to report that they will all be up over the next few days. Sorry for the delay but this is the first time in over a week I’ve gotten a minute to write (moving into a new house, starting grad school, etc) but enough with the excuses… Let me go back in time and pick up where I last left you in Pittsburgh.

We arrived in Pittsburgh very early in the morning after driving overnight from Cincinnati. Checked into the hotel and got some sleep. The Pirates were not in town yet so we had the weekend off in the Burgh and luckily enough, our favorite football team, the Detroit Lions, were in town playing their 1st pre-season game against the Steelers. Living in Boston and going to school in New York, I rarely get to see the Lions play live so we could not miss this opportunity. This wasn’t really a coincidence as I had planned this into the trip before we left, but the timing was really perfect. So Saturday night we went to Heinz Field to watch the Lions-Steelers game. I didn’t take any notes on the field but it was nice and we enjoyed our time there. The Lions starting unit looked good and I’m feeling that this is the year they turn it around. We also endured a football rain delay during the game as torrential thunder and lightning storms hit Heniz Field late in the 2nd quarter delaying the game for over an hour. We got wet, but it was still a great time and nice to see some football in the middle of a baseball trip. I want to thank Mr. Philippone for hooking us up with 2 tickets to the game. And while I’m at it, another shout out to Mr. Philippone for the 2 tickets to the Pirates game as well. This was very generous and we were thankful to have these tickets.

After the football game on Saturday night, we relaxed on Sunday before the Pirates came back to town on Monday. We went to Station Square in the afternoon, ate at the Hard Rock, and then went to a soccer bar to watch Manchester United open their EPL season. This ended right around 5 and we drove about 2 miles to PNC Park for stadium #27.

I had heard a lot of great things about PNC Park going into this, so I had high hopes for this stadium. I would say the skyline view certainly lived up to the hype and that alone would make this a top 5 stadium. The park is another modern one and looks similar to some of the other new parks. There was not a ton of stuff going on from an entertainment standpoint, which was somewhat surprising, but I really enjoyed the feel of the place. There was a picnic area in the outfield concourse not too far from Manny’s BBQ. Like some of the other parks, the Pirates offered all-you-can-eat seats and had a prize wheel for fans to spin and win free prizes. There was a medium sized playground behind the right field concourse as well. But, what set this park apart were the amazing views of Pittsburgh from inside the park. The stadium sits on the Allegheny River which provides a backdrop of both the river and the city skyline. I would say it’s the best looking backdrop in baseball.

The food here was very good. Some of the staples of Pittsburgh were found here with things like Primanti Brothers (great sandwiches), Quaker Steak & Lube (great wings), and then Pops Plaza in left field which featured some nice variety of foods (gyros, chicken, potatoes, BBQ). The stadium had an actual pizza parlor, called Diamond Pizza Parlor and then Rita’s Italian Ice which is a favorite. The hot dog was pretty solid as well making this one of the better establishments for food.

The game featured the Pirates and Marlins which meant I had very little interest. The crowd was weak as I expected it to be for a Monday night in Pittsburgh. It is sad to think that such a beautiful stadium can’t fill half of its seats. But, you need a winning product and it has been quite some time since the Pirates have last had that. They did however win this one 7-1 behind Garret Jones’ 2 rbi double and Andrew McCutchen’s solo shot. We also got to watch part of the game with a local Pirates fan who’s a friend of a friend and uses ‘Danger’ as his middle name. Thanks to Jesse for giving us some great insight on the ballpark, the city, and the Pirates. I also got to see some family friends who were also on a mini stadium tour. It was great to see Jack and his dad John at the park and talk a little baseball.

We left Pittsburgh after the game that night (w a quick pit stop @ Dave and Busters) and headed to Philly. This was another great stop on the trip and was certainly another top-end stadium.

27 stadiums down. 3 to go.

PNC Park done. On to the next one…

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Great American Ballpark

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I last left you Thursday night from Cleveland. It is now late Sunday night as I sit in my Pittsburgh hotel awaiting stadium 27; PNC Park. But, the Pirates are not here until tomorrow so I’ll cover Pittsburgh in the next post. In between Cleveland and Pittsburgh was Cincinnati and the Great American Ballpark. We left Cleveland Friday afternoon after attending the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in the morning. What a cool place this was and should be a must see for any big music fans. After leaving Cleveland, we traveled southwest and arrived in Cincinnati about an hour before 1st pitch. We parked a few blocks from the stadium and then walked over. And I entered stadium 26 of the trip.

The Great American Ballpark is yet another new stadium. I felt that it was a cross between AT&T Park in San Francisco and Busch Stadium in St. Louis. It had the water backdrop in right field just like San Fran and was massive in size similar to St. Louis. I liked the look of the place and felt that this giant venue was a cool place to play baseball. It also had plenty of attractions and amenities to please its fans. The entrance I went in was right by the Red Hall of Fame, which looked like a great attraction to check out. It was attached to the stadium and had a separate entrance from outside the park as well. So, I went inside and got my game ticket punched assuming that meant I had access to the Hall of Fame. Wrong. The Reds actually charge an additional $10 to stroll through their Hall of Fame. Child Please! Anyone with a game ticket should be allowed access to see this place; charging another $10 is unnecessary and the opposite of fan-friendly. I was upset with this and decided I was not going to pay more to walk in, so I can’t tell you exactly what was inside. I’ll go out on a limb and say there were plaques of guys like Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, and Barry Larkin. There were a lot of good things about the ballpark. I was able to walk through both the Champions Club and the Riverfront Club, which sit on the 2nd level here and were very elegant and nice. The Champions Club was a giant club area with all-you-can-eat food and soft drinks along with seats that face the field. I think the cost of a ticket here was around $80. The Riverfront Club was reserved for Season Ticket holders and had a really nice looking bar/restaurant with a great buffet. The lower level concourse had plenty of good stuff as well. I saw a moon bounce, a Ford giveaway, a giant truck with PS3 consoles attached to the sides (featuring MLB The Show), a jungle gym, and the Fan Zone main stage. This main stage had live music and a nice big patio for fans to sit and eat/listen. This area also had a bunch of kids attractions like Run it Out (racing), Vertical Leap, Swing Away (batting cage), Pitchers Grips, Bat Weight, and High Heat (speed pitch). Then on the other side of the stadium (around home plate and up the left field line) were a bunch of promotional tables and things like the Reds Community Corner. Another cool area was the hhgregg highlight zone which was a little patio with tons of TV’s featuring sports from around the country. The final thing I noted was the Riverboat deck out in centerfield. This was a private area so I wasn’t granted access to see it firsthand, but it looked to have a nice buffet and outstanding views of the field.

The Reds had plenty to offer their fans for food selection. The most notable food from Cincinnati is probably Skyline Chili so it was nice to see this featured at the park. The Chili and Cheese Coney from Skyline was one of the better ballpark foods I’ve had. I also had their regular hot dog which was good, but the bun was kind of stale so it may not rank as high as some of the others. Another cool thing about this place were the $1 concession stands they had. You could get kids size hot dogs, a small bag of peanuts, a bag of popcorn, and a few other options all for $1. Those are always nice to see when on a budget. They also had full size beers for $5 until the 1st inning and called it happy hour. That’s kind of funny to have $5 beers for happy hour, but at a ballpark it is a great deal considering full price beers are almost always a minimum of $7 and sometimes up to $10. The park also had United Dairy Farm stands (UDF) which makes some great homemade ice cream. The restaurant out in center field was called the Machine Room Grille and was a GIANT bar/restaurant which was packed when I walked in about 20 min prior to the 1st pitch. It was also nice that it was air conditioned as it was about 95 degrees outside. Though the park did have many cooling zones for these hot days. I saw a Penn Station East Coast Subs and then a lot of your typical ballpark food stands. There were also a bunch of tents set up for private parties that had a limited buffet. I believe some of these were reserved for Redleggings members (looked to be something you would pay a membership for with the Reds) but I couldn’t get a confirmation of this. As a whole, I liked the food choices here.

The game was a good one for the home team. Going into it I thought we’d have a pitchers duel as the league’s ERA leader, Josh Johnson was on the hill facing the promising Edinson Volquez. But, Johnson threw a real dud and got pounded by the Reds offense. Jay Bruce would add a home run later in the game and the Reds would win it 7-2. The crowd was ok. I was expecting a lot more for it being a Friday night and the Reds are competing for a playoff spot. I thought it would be near capacity, but it was far from it. It wasn’t a weak crowd it just wasn’t what I was expecting. The fireworks display at the end of the game was outstanding with one of the best firework finales I’ve ever seen.

That pretty much wraps up the Great American Ballpark and Cincinnati. We left right after the game and drove to Pittsburgh where we are now. We’ve got PNC Park tomorrow night (Monday), Citizens Bank Park in Philly on Tuesday, and then Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. After that, I need to make a pit stop in Ithaca for an orientation before heading home to Boston and finishing the trip at Fenway Park. Crazy that we’ve made it to the final week of the trip.

26 stadiums down. 4 to go.

Great American Ballpark done. On to the next one…

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Checking In On The Tribe

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Hello Ohio. We arrived in Cleveland late this afternoon after a drive through Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, and eventually Ohio. Not too bad a drive considering what we have been doing and we only had about a 30 minute delay crossing the border. So we checked in at our Cleveland hotel and then walked to Progressive Field (only about a mile away). Before going into the park, we stopped and got some food at Paninis (a bar right outside the park with some great sandwiches), after getting a tip from a local Clevelander and another Syracuse alumn (Thanks Sheetal). The sandwiches were great and the place was a good before-the-game bar. After this, we walked across the street to Progressive Field.

Although Gate C was open, our tickets we’re waiting for us at Gate B which did not open until 6pm (1 hour before gametime). This was a little disappointing and was the first time I’ve seen a stadium keep its gates shut for so long. Granted you could enter the stadium’s outfield entrance and stand in the outfield before 6pm, but I still don’t see why all the gates didn’t open at least 1.5 hours prior to first pitch. Once I did make it inside, I took a walk around the park.

Progressive Field (formerly known as Jacobs Field or The Jake) is one of the older ‘new parks’. By that, I mean it is no longer considered a new stadium but still takes its design as a modern stadium. It was built in the mid 90′s and the novelty took a long time to wear off in Cleveland. Until recently when Fenway Park broke its record, Progressive Field held the streak for the longest consecutive sellout streak. When I walked in, the first thing I saw was a wheel which fans were spinning for prizes. I walked by this about 3 times and every time there was pretty long line. Not really that surprised being that it was for free stuff. I continued to walk around and loved how the concourse was setup here. It was almost like there were 2 concourses throughout the lower level, one was right at the field level and one was farther away behind it. There were a ton of merchandise and food stands set up throughout and one that I noted was the Tribe Pride for Her shop. This was the first time I’ve seen a store in a stadium dedicated to only woman’s clothing. I then passed by the speed pitch which is basically a must in every park. Then I came across the Bud Light Party Deck out in left field. This deck was unfortunately not open to the public and is rented out every game, but it was a very cool area. There was a giant outdoor patio with a buffet and then tons of seating for the game. All of it provided great views of the field. I then saw the E 9th St Picnic Patio which was a giant picnic table area that sat on one side of the stadium. I saw many families eating here and it looked like a great place to relax before the game began. I then went up the escalator to check out the 2nd deck. The KidsLand was up here but wasn’t too much to note. Just a small toddler area with some toys and a few picture spots was all I saw. Pronkland was also up here, which is named after Indians DH Travis Hafner (nicknamed Pronk). It was probably cool when he was a prolific power hitter in the A.L. but now it’s kind of funny considering he’s turned into a mediocre hitter. It was just an area out in right field way up in the 2nd deck. I then made it to the outfield where I found Heritage Park, the Indians Hall of Fame. It was probably the coolest on site Hall of Fame I have seen so far with a great 2 level setup and plaques surrounding the area with former Indian greats. I really liked how they designed this and thought it was a highlight of the park.

The food at the park was interesting. There were many of the same options I’ve seen at almost every park, but then there were certainly some unique choices. They have a whole stand dedicated to fried foods. Highlighted by 2 fried waffles with a piece of fried chicken in the middle, this may sound unhealthy. But then if you keep going down the menu it got even worse. Fried twinkies and fried cookie dough may just win the award for the most unhealthy ballpark food. I think for an extra .75 cents you can get a paramedic with your food. Ironically, the park also had a Subway, which always advertises how healthy their food is, so I guess you do have your choices. Then there was the Market Patio featuring Cleats which said to have the official chicken wing of Cleveland. It also had burgers and chicken sandwiches amongst a few other options. Then in center field, there was big open air bar area called Ridgid Jobsite, which was a really nice area of the park. It had a beanbag toss on one side and lots of seating on the other. The bar was great, the atmosphere was great, and it really was a top of the line stadium bar. I also looked at the Terrace Club which was exclusive to season ticket holders. It was indoors and up the left field line here at Progressive Field. It was very luxurious and had a nice looking bar and tables that overlooked the field. It was one of the first of its kind to provide this kind of seating which has now been copied by many of the newer parks. As for the hot dog, it was dollar dog night which was good, but the hot dog was only ok. The bun wasn’t great and we will see where this dog ranks on the final list.

I then made it over to my seats in left field. They were not your standard left field seats; tonight we had tickets in the Tribe Social Deck. This is the first of its kind and right now is the only such thing in any professional venue across the county. It is a small private deck with 10 seats that sit just over the wall in left field. These seats are obtained by applying online and then being selected by the Indians. The idea is that people who are active on different social media platforms (bloggers, active tweeters) can sit out here in a very social media friendly zone. There is private Wi-Fi set up, a television, power outlets, and each person is given an official Game Information packet, like the press would receive, with just about every stat possible somewhere in it. I was able to chat with the man in charge of all of this, Rob Campbell, as he sat with us for a few innings and told us about this area and everything related to social media. A special thanks to Rob for giving us the chance to sit out here and spending some time talking with us. It was great to chat with some of the other bloggers and tweeters out here as well, as they made an Indians – Orioles game much more enjoyable. Not too much to say about the game itself, the Indians did win 4-1 behind a great outing from a young kid Jeanmar Gomez. It has only been a few outings, but he’s off to a fine start in the big leagues. The crowd was only average, but to be expected for a mid week Indians – Orioles game. It is crazy to think that this place solid out every night for so many years when I saw so many empty sections tonight.

We left the park and walked back to the hotel. I got some laundry done in the hotel, got some food, and continued to blog. It is late again and we have a big day tomorrow so I’m off to bed. Probably seeing the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in the morning and then driving to Cincy for stadium #26.

25 Stadiums down. 5 to go.

Progressive Field done. On to the next one….

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Rogers Centre, Eh?

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Almost up to current time here. We left Detroit on Monday morning and went over the river to Windsor, Ontario. Stopped at Caesars Windsor (a branch of Caesars Palace) and spent the day/night there. We both won a nice chunk of change at the casino which pretty much paid for our Canada leg of the trip. We left Windsor on Tuesday morning en route to Toronto and the Rogers Centre. And that’s where I am now, just outside of Toronto, Ontario writing another blog entry. We went to the Rogers Centre the past 2 nights (Tuesday and Wednesday) and got to see 2 Red Sox wins. I had been to the Rogers Centre (was called the Skydome then) before, but it seemed like it had undergone some renovation since I last was here. Another nice looking stadium, with a retractable roof, and stadium #24 was another success.

We got to the Rogers Centre around when the gates opened Tuesday night which gave me some time to walk around the park during batting practice. As I avoided getting nailed by Adrian Beltre moon shots (he absolutely kills it in BP), I did my tour of the park. The lower concourse had a very clean look and I believe it to be the only park with linoleum floors. The lower concourse was filled with different food stands and eateries which I will get to when I go over the food options here, but it was more on the 2nd level where some of the entertainment took place. The one thing I did note from the lower concourse was the mural that sat out in the outfield dedicated to the builders of the stadium. It was unlike anything I had seen before and was very abstract. It’s too hard to describe in words so I’ll just leave it at that. The 2nd deck was like a club level but their were places to sneak in so it was hard to tell how strict the Blue Jays were with keeping this area restricted to 2nd level ticket holders only. I was able to walk through the level and saw many more amenities of the park. For one, the whole level was carpeted which gave you the club level feel. Also, there were 2 bars, opposite of each other, with one being just past first base and one being just past third base. They looked almost identical although they had different names. One was called the Finest Sports Bar – Gibsons, while the other was called the Sky Vodka Lounge. I’m guessing this just has to do with advertising and naming rights because they looked to be the exact same thing. They each had a few tables which provided an outstanding view of the field along with some tables that faced away from the field. The 2nd level also gave access to the Home Plate Premium Patio & Lounge, which was a giant outdoor patio with nice beers and food served. There was also access to the HSBC Club, which was the VIP club area here at the Rogers Centre. This area I could not gain access to. I kept on walking and found the kids zone. It was nice that they had this, but it was one of the weaker ones I’ve seen. Almost every park has had MLB 2K10 but here I found MLB ’09 (LAST YEARS GAME, come on, you need to update your stuff!) Plus it was on PS2! I know it’s not that big a deal but that’s pretty weak for a Major League stadium. There was also a mini slide, a play area, the old fashion virtual batting cage, a speed pitch, and kids food. It was an ok effort but could definitely be improved upon. And there was nothing really to report on from the upper deck.

Now to the food. A lot of options and some real unique choices here at the Rogers Centre. Most of this could be found on the 1st level but some stands were also present on other levels as well. When I first walked in I saw the Muddy York Market which was a pretty large area that had foods of all sorts ranging from Mediterranean to burgers. They had a ton of options at this market and the BBQ Chicken nachos were advertised as being their specialty. The next stand I saw was an Asian stand which looked to have Chinese boxes available with different noodle dishes. Then there was the Quaker Steak & Lube which claimed to have the ‘Best Wings’. The Spadina Ave Kosher stand had some nice kosher options for those religious fans. There were many stands called Hogtown which featured prime rib sliders. Snopsy’s Deli looked to have some good looking sandwiches. And then the Roundhouse was probably the most appealing looking food option I came across. It had nice wooden floors, a nice bar, and fine meats being sliced by chefs which looked very appetizing. And finally, I should mention the restaurant that sits up above in centerfield called Sightlines. For roughly $70 a person, you get to experience fine dining and a great view of the field. I know a lot of other parks have this now, but this was one of the first restaurants built into a stadium providing a view of the field. And for years, the Hard Rock Café provided the same thing here at the Rogers Centre but that closed this year. And the hot dog here was another winner. We’ll see where it ends up on the final list.

The game on Tuesday was a good one. The Sox got off to an early 4-1 lead but Dice K quickly coughed that up by serving up a 3 run bomb to Travis Snyder. J.D. Drew would give the Sox the lead with a solo shot but that lead too would evaporate when the MLB home run leader, Jose Bautista, tied it with a solo shot of his own. But, the Sox would have the last laugh when Mike Lowell joined the HR party with a 2 out 8th inning solo shot off of Shawn Camp. Papelbon would close it out for a 7-5 Sox victory. We were lucky that we came on a Tuesday because the Jays have something known as Tweeting Tuesdays or #tweetingtuesdays for the twitter literate out there. I was interested to see what this was, as I am researching some social media trends on this trip. This was probably the most aggressive use of twitter I have seen at a game as almost every half inning there was another video message regarding something to do with twitter. You could Tweet to Eat or be an MVT (Most Valuable Tweeter) if you go to a Jays game on a Tuesday night. It was kind of cool following it on my phone during the game and then seeing it unfold on the big screen at the end of the inning. As for the crowd, they were ok. They are kind of obnoxious in Toronto and a bit extreme. Not to say that I don’t mind that at times, but they just don’t seem to be very baseball educated and just like to yell obscenities at the Red Sox and their fans. Very little class but they are entitled to do what they want. The place did fill up pretty well for this game (eventually, very late arriving crowd), roughly 30,000 or so, which is a very good crowd in Toronto.

We then went back to the game tonight (Wednesday) and saw the Red Sox pound the Jays 10-1. Bill Hall had 2 homers and Clay Buchholz was outstanding as this one was never really in doubt. We also got to see the 2 guys from 30 in 30 which was a real treat. If you thought our trip was tough, try doing it in half the time. These 2 guys are seeing all 30 MLB parks in 30 days. No time off. No days off. Baseball every night. It was great to see them and talk about some of our adventures this summer. Tonight was their 27th stadium and our 24th, so we could almost talk about any park in the country. You can check out their adventure via http://coedmagazine.com/30in30/…. Pretty awesome stuff…We left the park after the game and came back to the hotel which is where I sit now. Getting ready for Cleveland tomorrow and then Cincinnati on Friday. Blog is now up to date as we continue onwards.

24 Stadiums down. 6 to go.

Rogers Centre done. On to the next one…

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The Motor City

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Pick it up Saturday morning. We left Milwaukee and made the drive southeast to Detroit. The drive took about 7 hours as we had to endure a bunch of Men at Work traffic delays along the way. We did get to Detroit just in time for our dinner reservation we had with some more family. We had dinner with cousins and then stayed over with our great aunt who hosted us for our stay in Detroit (Thanks Aunt Sophie). We got up Sunday morning and made the short drive to Comerica Park to watch the Tigers and the Angels and take in stadium #23.

Comerica Park is another one of the modern stadiums in baseball and is one of the nicer looking stadiums in the majors. Before I get to the inside of the stadium, I have to mention the décor of the outside. I think I’d have to vote Comerica as having the best looking outside of a stadium with the coolest looking entrances. I can’t say that I have studied the décor of each stadium with incredible detail, but this was the first time that it jumped out at me and I was mightily impressed with the gargoyles that line around the stadium. After walking inside, I was amazed at how much was happening in so many different areas. Most of the newer parks have most of their amenities and attractions in the outfield concourse but here at Comerica there was a lot happening closer to home plate. The most notable area would probably be the Big Cat Court which sat near the home plate concourse and gave a real carnival feel. For one, there was a big merry-go-round in the middle which looked to be very popular with the young Tiger fans. There were also 2K10 consoles surrounding the outside and then food vendors circling the court. Anything from Mexican to Elephant Ears (like fried dough) could be found in this court and there was a festive feeling felt here (say that 5 times fast). The next fan friendly area I came across here at Comerica was by the Brushfire Grill and Beer Hall. The Brushfire Grill was a giant outdoor patio with a full menu and a giant bar. It provided a great scene with a full sized Ferris wheel running in the back along with the Fox Sports Detroit studio on site. Right next to this was the Beer Hall which was a huge indoor bar/restaurant which was also crowded and looked to be another great spot to hang before a game. Once I did make it to the outfield I saw the many statues of former Tiger greats like Cobb and Kaline which are prominent out here. There was also a speed pitch for fans to test their arms out. In another area of the park there were batting cages as well for both bigger kids and little kids. There was also the Pepsi Porch which sat out in right field which looked to have a small buffet available. The park had the Stub Hub seats just like I had seen in Phoenix which included 2 nice reclining leather chairs with a personal TV in front. Then I went to the upper deck where I found the best upper deck lounge to date. It is rare to find anything worth mentioning in the upper decks of these parks, but here at Comerica there was a very plush lounge that looked like something you may find in a VIP area at other parks. It had TV’s, leather chairs and couches, air conditioning, a nice bar, and cocktails available for any fans that had seats on the upper level. The look of the field and backdrop of Comerica were also outstanding. I would give the place an A if I were grading these stadiums.

Some of the other food options that I have not already mentioned were Little Caesars (which was started by the owner of the Tigers), Leo’s Coney Island, Sliders (which had wings, sliders, fries and was very crowded), the Tiger Den (which had healthy options and sushi), and then the Jungle Bar & Grille which was just behind the Pepsi Porch out in right field. The Jungle was a very cool looking bar and restaurant which kind of reminded me of the Rainforest Café. Comerica had plenty of bars, restaurants, and food options available for the public. And the hot dog here was pretty good, I’m guessing probably between 10-20 on the list.

The game was a pretty good one for the Tigers. They had really been struggling in the 2nd half, but on this Sunday afternoon, the bats came alive and they took care of the Angels 9-4. Johnny Damon had a big day to lead the Tiger offense and they were able to avoid being swept. And, for a team that has been struggling as badly as the Tigers have lately, the crowd was very strong both in number and in atmosphere. There was a great vibe throughout the game and almost everyone in attendance was wearing Tigers gear and cheering throughout. We were sitting with our cousins who are all big Tiger fans which made the Detroit leg of the trip a lot of fun (Thanks Pearlsteins). And, it should be noted that for my first 10 years or so of life, I was raised a Tigers fan (thanks to my Dad). But, growing up in Boston and going to Fenway around 20 times a year took its toll, and by the time I hit 5th grade, my allegiances changed to the Red Sox and that will remain for life (and for anyone that thinks I’m a frontrunner, I’m a Lions fan. Not Patriots. So that pretty much squashes that argument). Also, for any Tigers fans, make sure to check out this blog http://roarofthetigers.wordpress.com/ It has some great material and I marvel at some of the illustrations it provides (And I’m not just saying this because my cousin Samara maintains it. Check it out)

We went back to the Detroit suburbs and rested for the night. Watched Josh Beckett get lit up by the Yankees again on Sunday Night Baseball and then prepared for Canada.

To this point….

23 Stadiums down. 7 to go.

Comerica Park done. On to the next one….

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The High Life

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We left Chicago on Friday afternoon and made the 80 mile drive north to Milwaukee. Hit some traffic on the way but still made it to Miller Park plenty before the first pitch would be thrown. The first thing to note about Miller Park would have to be the vast amount of tailgating done in the parking lots. I think many of the Brewers fans go to the game just for the tailgating and you would certainly be in the minority if you did not participate. It seemed that almost every car had their own grill, tents, games, beer, and everything else you would see at a tailgate party. I felt that we got strange looks from the locals for getting out of the car and walking to the park instead of taking out a grill. Once we did maneuver past the tailgates and through the parking lot, we made it to the stadium.

I first noticed the statues outside the park that depicted the men and women who were responsible for building Miller Park. This was a great gesture by the Brewers and a great tribute to the builders. Also outside of the stadium was a nice big playground which stood right next to Helfaer Field – a really nice looking little league field. This looked very similar to the little league field that we saw outside of Texas at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Brewers had a really nice setting outside of the stadium and when you throw in the tailgating, one would be dumb to not show up early at a Brewers game.

Once again, I was lucky enough to have a Milwaukee connect who hooked us up with both tickets and accommodation for the night (Thanks Caitlin!). She met us outside the gate, gave us our tickets, and off we went into Miller Park.

Miller Park takes the same design as Houston’s Minute Maid Park and Phoenix’s Chase Field. They are nearly identical in the way they are structurally engineered and provide many of the same views and vantage points. And just like there was at Chase Field, a Front Row Fridays took up much of left field here at Miller Park. The popular chain Fridays must have some kind of deal with these parks to have their food and bar services available at these venues. In Phoenix, it was located on the 2nd level and overlooked the field while here in Milwaukee it was on the 1st level. It did provide both indoor and outdoor seating where the outdoor seating gave a view of the field. Personally, I thought the one in Arizona was a little bit nicer and seemed bigger with more views of the field. But, here at Miller Park, there was also a Fridays Beer Garden which was actually outside and was a great spot for Brewers fans to hang before and after the game. It featured a bar and live music and was busy every time I was near by. Some other notable features of Miller Park were things like the Kids Zone, the Virtual Batters Box, the Dew Deck, Bernies Clubhouse, and of course the yellow slide that Bernie Brewer (Brewers mascot) slides down after Brewers home runs. The Kids Zone here was one of the better ones I’ve seen. It had attractions such as Race Corey Hart, 2K10 consoles, take a picture robbing a homer, take a picture in a mock dugout, a mini version of Bernie’s slide, a speed pitch, and a few other nice picture areas. It was off near left field, was spacious, and had many kids participating. The Virtual Batters Box was a booth setup in the concourse that looked like a version of baseball for the Wii. The Dew Deck was located in sections 302-305 (out in right field) and featured the all-you-can-eat seats which also provided 2 free drinks. I saw an ad during the game for a singles night in the Dew Deck, where local Milwaukee singles can meet in the area and enjoy the game from this designated area. Who knew a ballpark could act as a dating service. Bernie’s Clubhouse was another kids area which sat in the upper deck concourse and was an indoor mini playground. For being on the upper deck, it was a pretty decent setup and kids were running all over the place. Then there was the famous yellow slide which Bernie Brewer slides down following a Brewers home run. Beneath this is the splash zone where water comes shooting out when Bernie makes it to the bottom. A few other things I noted was the NYCE club in left field-which looked like the VIP club area and then the Toyota seats out in centerfield which I was told were used for bulk seating at the park.

The food at the park was very strong with great smells of bratwurst throughout the stadium. Besides the Front Row Fridays, there was also a Plaza Pavilion which was an outdoor bar with a few food options as well. A few of the unique stands I found here included things like Ricks Famous Custard, a cupcake stand, a healthy stand that looked like one you may find at an airport with food-to-go, and a wok noodles stand. There was also a private area out in right field just over the right field fence which looked like it had a buffet. The hot dog here was very good, I think will certainly be in the top 10 when I construct the final list.

The game didn’t have too much action for the first 8 innings but would make up for that with a dramatic 9th. Trailing by 3 runs, the Brewers rally was sparked by a Joe Inglett homerun (his first of the year) which brought them within one. This was also a great moment because it was the first Brewers homer of the game which meant that we got to see Bernie come flying down his slide which is a Brewers tradition. But, the Brewers still trailed by 1. After a hit and a walk, slugger Prince Fielder stepped up with the tying and winning runs on base. He would rope a ball down the right field line for a game winning double to complete the comeback and give the Brewers a victory. This was one of the better finishes we’ve seen and certainly sent the park into a brief hysteria. But, for much of the game, I thought the crowd was pretty lifeless and the atmosphere was not great. It was a Friday night, so there was a pretty decent crowd in number, but other then the dramatic 9th inning, they really did not make much noise.

After the game, we stayed in Milwaukee overnight, and then woke up Saturday morning and drove to Detroit.

Up to this point…

22 Stadiums down. 8 to go.

Miller Park done. On to the next one…

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