Sunday, September 10, 2017

The End of Sports Road Trips

The end of my minor league quest last month was also the end of my larger enterprise of sports road trips. I use the term sports road trip to refer to an extended journey (ideally a week or more), taking in at least one game every day, usually in a different stadium. During the eight-year life of this blog, I've taken over 50 of these trips, averaging one every two months. The trips started as a way to get out of high-density Japan and on the open road throughout America, checking out some sports along the way; the blog was an attempt to get other sports fans to think about doing the same thing.

After I moved to the States in 2013, I did the NFL Road Trip, a four-month jaunt which brought me closer to Club 122, which I completed in early 2014. Over the past three summers, I've been running around to minor league ballparks to finish yet another quest. With that done, I've actually run out of compelling sports spots to visit. I still have five AHL rinks plus a few CFL stadiums that I want to see, and some remaining road venues for the Blue Jays and Maple Leafs, but that's about it. At any rate, given the geographic spread of those stadiums, an extended driving trip is no longer practical. I do enjoy the atmosphere of college basketball, but I'm not going to fly across the country to see two or three of those games, and schedules rarely allow for a longer trip. So I'll be relaxing for the most part, and this blog will become an occasional outlet rather than a running diary of my trips.

That doesn't mean that I'm giving up the entire sports travel hobby. With the addition of the Vegas Golden Knights, Club 122 is now 123, and there are four other new venues opening in the next two months: the Atlanta Falcons will now call Mercedes-Benz Stadium home; the Los Angeles Chargers will use StubHub Center temporarily; while Detroit sees Little Caesars Arena for both the Red Wings and Pistons. In order to maintain my credentials, I will pay a visit to each of these before Christmas.

Having used up all my vacation and then some on my minor league road trips during the summer, I am limited to weekends for these upcoming jaunts. These trips require little planning and in two cases, not even a car, making the road trip term even more unsuitable. Still, they're better than nothing.  Here are the three trips that I will be taking to remain a member of Club 123. The Georgia State game has already been cancelled as Memphis is rearranging their schedule after their game at UCF was postponed due to Hurricane Irma.
Sat Sep 30 Memphis Tigers at Georgia State Panthers (NCAA Football) TBD
Sat Sep 30 North Carolina Tar Heels at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 12:00
Sun Oct 1  Buffalo Bills at Atlanta Falcons 1:00

Sat Oct 21 St. Louis Blues at Vegas Golden Knights 7:30
Sun Oct 22 Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers 1:25

Sat Nov 11 Illinois State Redbirds at Oakland Golden Grizzlies (NCAA Women's Basketball) 1:00
Sat Nov 11 Columbus Blue Jackets at Detroit Red Wings 7:00
Sun Nov 12 Lake Superior State Lakers vs Alderson Broadus Battlers (NCAA Basketball, Division II) 1:00
Sun Nov 12 Miami Heat at Detroit Pistons 4:00

I will be posting recaps of each visit, so check back in a month to see how Mercedes-Benz Stadium stacks up.