DeMartin Stadium

26 10 2009
  • 248 Jenison Field House
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • (517) 353-8635
  • Website

It’s wierd.  I’ve been to DeMartin Stadium, but I’ve never blogged about it.  I was thinking that Sunday as I was standing there watching the MSU women take on the Minnesota Golden Golphers.  I don’t have a lot of experience with college soccer stadiums or soccer in general, but DeMartin seems like a nice place to play.

DeMartin Stadium sits behind Jenison Field on Michigan State University.  It’s part of the athletic complex that makes up Old College Field along with the softball and baseball diamonds.  DeMartin Stadium is barely a year old.  Before the 2008 season, a number of changes took place to the soccer field including the orientation and the addition of seating bringing the capacity to 2500. 

The closest parking lot to the field is at Jenison and on game days, parking can be at a premium.  People were parking everywhere.  In spaces, on the grass, wherever they could find a spot to put their cars.  The only bad thing about Old College Field is the parking, but that seems to be the trend at all of MSU’s athletic facilities. 

You enter Old College Field between the baseball and softball diamonds…that is, if you’re paying.  You wouldn’t believe how many kids…and adults were sucking in their guts and squeezing through the fence that is meant to keep people out.  I don’t know how much a soccer game costs, but it can’t be that much.  Read the rest of this entry »





Kelly/Shorts Stadium

12 10 2009
  • W. Campus Drive & University Park Drive
  • Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858
  • (517) 774-3277
  • Website
Kelly/Shorts Stadium on the campus of Central Michigan University

Kelly/Shorts Stadium on the campus of Central Michigan University

Fall sports have been good to me so far this year.  I’ve been busy pretty much every weekend.  My recent trip was up to Mt. Pleasant for a CMU Chippewas football game.  It was my first time at CMU and only the third time I had even been to Mt. Pleasant, so I was excited to see more of the town and of course, the CMU football stadium. 

Kelly/Shorts Stadium is the home of the Central Michigan University football team.  It sits just off BR 127 at University Park Drive and W. Campus Drive on the southeast corner of the CMU campus.  The stadium opened in 1972 with a loss to win over Illinois State.  At that time, the stadium was simply called Perry Shorts Stadium.  In 1983, the name was changed to Kelly/Shorts Stadium to honor former football coach Bill Kelly. 

The thing that surprised me initially was the size.  I know CMU is a FBS school, but I sometimes forget that the MAC is actually on the same level as the Big Ten….at least when it comes to NCAA status.  The main grandstand behind CMU’s bench is huge.  When you enter the seating level from the main concourse, you have to go down to your seats.  At some points in the stadium, you have to walk up stairs to get to the concourse area.  In other parts there are gradual ramps. Read the rest of this entry »





Grand Ole Opry – Nashville, TN

6 10 2009
  • 2802 Opryland Drive
  • Nashville, TN 37214
  • (615) 871-6779
  • Website
The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN

The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN

I don’t know when it happened, but at one point when I was living in Peoria, I started listening to country music.  Growing up, I hated the stuff.  Only the “hicks” at my school of 400 listened to country music and I wanted to be cool, so I listened to hip hop.  Thankfully, I grew out of that phase, but I was left in radio limbo.  What do I listen to?  I tried to be interested in classic rock, but no luck.  The radio station I worked at in school was a Top 40, so that’s what I ended up listening to. 

Since my job in Peoria involved me being ina car most of the day, I just tuned in the Top 40 station.  After hearing the same Jessica Simpson song eight times in one day, I started scanning the radio.  I ended up on a country station from Galesburg, IL which is about 35 west of Peoria.  I just started listening and eventually, the music grew on me. 

Now, J and I are big country music fans.  We’ve seen almost every major star in concert and used to religiously watch CMT’s Top 20 Countdown.  When we decided to go to Tennessee for our honeymoon, there had to be a stop in Nashville.

After eating lunch at Neely’s Bar-B-Que, we headed across town to check out the major country music attraction in Nashville.  The Grand Ole Opry. Read the rest of this entry »





Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies – Gatlinburg, TN

2 10 2009
  • 88 River Road
  • Gatlinburg, TN 37738
  • (865) 430-8808
  • Website
Ripleys Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN

I wasn’t going to write about any of the attractions we went to, but this was too good to not say something about. 

Usually, I’m not a fan of aquariums. When I was little, I was forced to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago more times than I would have liked. In fact, one was too many. I hated it. It was so boring. So, when one of our friends recommended Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies we were skeptical but willing to give it a shot. 

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is just off The Parkway in Gatlinburg. It’s one of the first things you run into if you’re coming from Pigeon Forge (which is a beautiful drive, btw). In true Ripley’s fashion, the building itself is something to look at. It doesn’t have the stuffy feeling of a museum and it’s not an old building with Gothic architecture. It’s a modern design with a lot of glass. 

The ticket window is actually outside before you get to the main doors. The cost for adults was $20, but like I told J, that was cheaper than the freakin ferry ride to Mackinac Island, so in the grand scheme of things, it probably wasn’t that bad. The ticket lady tried to get us to buy tickets to other Ripley attractions in town which would have saved money if we were going to more than one, but we weren’t. 

After getting tickets, we headed inside where another person ripped our tickets and sent us on our way.  Read the rest of this entry »





Michigan Stadium

20 09 2009
  • 1 E. Stadium Blvd.
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48104
  • (734) 764-1817
  • Website
Michigan Stadium - The Big House

Michigan Stadium - "The Big House"

Don’t judge me.  I wouldn’t judge you if you went to a baseball game at Wrigley Field.  I’m not a closet Michigan fan.  In fact, growing up, I despised Michigan because my brother, for some reason, was a huge Wolverine fan.  We grew up about an hour north of the University of Illinois, so it caused a lot of Saturday afternoon fights in our house. 

Still, even though I’ve never been a fan of Michigan, like most sports fans, Michigan Stadium has been one of the stadiums that I really wanted to see a game in.  When we moved to Lansing, one of our goals was to see a football game at both Michigan and Michigan State.  I’ve been to Spartan Stadium for work, but not Michigan Stadium. 

Last week, when I was working at Illinois, I got a text message from J that said she wanted to go to a football game this weekend.  She looked first at MSU, but they were on the road, so she checked Michigan.  There were tickets available and at $50 a piece, didn’t seem to overpriced, so she ordered two tickets. 

I hate to admit it, but I’ve been looking forward to this all week.  I mean, it’s The Big House. I have a lot of friends back home, who aren’t Michigan fans either, that are really jealous. 

Michigan Stadium is the centerpiece of the University of Michigan athletic campus  on the corner of Main Street and Stadium Boulevard.  I’ve heard a lot of stories about how crappy the place is, but those opinions were coming from Michigan State fans, so there may be a little biased.  My expectations for the stadium itself wasn’t very high.  My suspicion was that Michigan Stadium was more about tradition and atmosphere than it was comfort and aesthetics. Read the rest of this entry »





US Cellular Field – Chicago

7 09 2009
  • 333 W. 35th Street
  • Chicago, IL 60616
  • (312) 674-1000
  • Website
US Cellular Field on W. 35th Street in Chicago.

US Cellular Field on W. 35th Street in Chicago.

Most guys use their bachelor party as an excuse to go to a strip club.  Most of my friends fit into that generalization as well.  Strip clubs aren’t really my thing, so when my brother asked what I wanted to do for my bachelor party, I didn’t hesitate and said I wanted to go to a White Sox game. 

US Celluar Field is on West 35th Street on Chicago’s south side.  No one I know actually calls the place US Celluar Field.  Most people refer to it simply as “The Cell.”  The old timers still call it “Comiskey” (the original name was Comiskey Park named after the old park and owner Charles Comiskey).  The Chicago media likes to use the name “US Comiskular” (combining US Cellular and Comiksey).

The “new” Comiskey Park was opened in 1991.  They were a year too early.  New Comiskey was built as the ball park of the future.  It had clean lines.  A symmetrical shape and it was quite sterile.  There was really no character.  One year later, when Camden Yards opened, Comiskey’s futuristic styling was already a thing of the past.  The retro look is what actually took off and every ballpark since then has been designed after the success of Camden….not Comiskey. Read the rest of this entry »





Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum – Cleveland, OH

3 08 2009
  • 1100 Rock and Roll Boulevard
  • Cleveland, OH 44114
  • (216) 781-7625
  • Website
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Clevealand, OH

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Clevealand, OH

Who doesn’t like impromptu trips?  J and I were in Sandusky, OH where we met some friends for lunch.  After hanging out on the shore of Lake Erie for a while, we parted ways.  They had another engagement and we were looking for something else to do.  Sure, Cedar Point was an option, but that’s freakin expensive…especially since we were only looking to kill a few hours before driving home.  J suggested Kelleys Island, but I wasn’t super excited about that.  Again, a $20 ferry ride to walk around for an hour or so.  She then asked how far Cleveland was.

Since moving to Lansing, I’ve wanted to go to Cleveland for three things.  A baseball game at Progessive Field, a meal at one or both of Michael Symon’s restaurants, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The baseball game was almost over and we weren’t dressed for dinner at Lola or Lolita, but the Rock Hall was still an option.  Since it was only an hour or so drive and we’d have two hours once we got there, we headed east.  As J likes to say, “Why not?”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is located on Cleveland’s waterfront in the North Coast Harbor area.  The building, designed by I.M Pei, sits right next to the Great Lakes Science Center and Cleveland Browns Stadium.  We weren’t really sure about parking.  I took a wrong turn because I got into a turn lane so I had to go down by the football stadium and turn around which brought us right back in front of the Rock Hall.  If I had gotten lucky there was street parking, but I never get that lucky.  We found a small municipal about a block away that charged $10 for the day. 

We walked back to the iconic glass pyramid building where I snapped a few pictures.  You’ll notice these are the only pictures I’m posting of the Hall of Fame.  That’s because it was the only ones I could take.  There are signs all over the building demanding that you check all cameras and video cameras.  There is not photography or video recording allowed inside the building which I think sucks.  The official reason is…. Read the rest of this entry »





Mackinac Island

26 07 2009
  • 7274 Main Street
  • Mackinac Island, MI 49757
  • (906) 847-3783
  • Website
Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island

J and I finally feel like Michiganders (or is it Michiginians?).  It seems like every weekend, our friends who grew up here always say they’re “going up north.”  That’s it.  No specific place.  Just up north.  Since we don’t have family here or a cottage somewhere, there’s really no reason for us to “go north.” 

Since moving here, I’ve wanted to go to Mackinac Island.  J went when she was younger.  Her family did the circle tour one year and Mackinac Island was one of the stops.  I’ve never been.  We had plans to go for a couple days in June, but wedding plans made it impossible to take the trip.  A couple weeks ago, J and I were noticing our weekends off, alone together were slowly becoming more and more rare.  We looked at the calendar and figured out the last weekend in July could be the last chance until next spring for us to get away for a day, so we made plans.

Our day started early.  We got up around 7:30 and got on the road about 8:00.  We knew we couldn’t afford to stay on the Island and we knew we couldn’t afford to take the ferry two days in a row, so we decided just to make it a day trip.  Yes, it was a long day with a lot of driving, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  Mackinac Island is abouta  3 1/2 hour drive from Lansing, but it’s all four lane highway which is really nice. 

We pulled into Mackinaw City at about 11:30.  We found our way to the Arnold Ferry.  When we pulled in, a guy pointed us to a parking lot across the street.  We parked and walked back to get our tickets.  Arnold was the one ferry company that had a AAA discount.  I showed my card and got a couple bucks off.  The tickets were $22 a piece for the round trip, so the ferry round cost us $44.  I was hit with sticker shock when I first saw the prices, but it’s the only way to get there. Read the rest of this entry »





Silver Cross Field – Joliet, IL

20 06 2009
  • 1 Mayor Art Schultz Drive
  • Joliet, IL 60432
  • (815) 726-2255
  • Website
Silver Cross Field in downtown Joliet.

Silver Cross Field in downtown Joliet.

I think I’ve already mentioned, I really like baseball.  Most guys spend all year getting ready for their fantasy football draft….I look forward to April because baseball’s starting.  I’ve been very lucky the last seven years having a Midwest League team in the city I’ve lived in.  Trust me, I’ve taken advantage of that. 

For my first two years of college, I played baseball at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL.  We played our home games on a pretty nice field at Joliet Catholic Academy (high school).  Since I went to a small high school, this field was a huge step up, but for most of the guys I played with, it was a step down.  In 2003, USF got a huge opportunity to play it’s home games at the newly built Silver Cross Field in downtown Joliet.  I never got to play there or even see it before I left school, but the park’s main tenant is the Joliet Jackhammers of the Northern League. 

J and I were at my parents house and it’s always nice to be able to get my dad out of the house.  He likes baseball like I like baseball so I suggested the hour drive north to Joliet.  Once we figured out the rain might actually hold off, my mom and aunt also wanted in, so we loaded up the van an headed to Joliet. Read the rest of this entry »





Soldier Field – Chicago

14 06 2009
  • 425 E. McFetridge Drive
  • Chicago, IL 60605
  • (312) 235-7000
  • Website
The entrance to Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, in Chicago

The entrance to Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, in Chicago

I’m not a huge football fan.  At least not the pro game, so I don’t go to a lot of games.  I have been to one game at the “New” Soldier Field and one game at the “Old” Soldier Field.  I’ve almost seen more concerts at the venue than I have football.  Still, being a Chicago sports fan, I could write a whole blog just on the look of the building.  I’m not one of those people that think sports teams need to stay in a building because of it’s “historical” significance (I’m looking at you drunk frat boys on the northside).  As a fan, I like to be comfortable if I’m paying top dollar to see a sporting event and most of all, I want to see the show.  After having seen games at both the old and new configurations of Soldier Field, I can tell you, the new one blows the old one away.  Still, it’s an eyesore in a beautiful Chicago skyline.

Soldier Field from the 18th Street pedestrian bridge in Chicago

Soldier Field from the 18th Street pedestrian bridge in Chicago

Soldier Field is located just off of Lakeshore Drive on the south side of Chicago’s downtown.  Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was very vocal about keeping the Bears in Chicago, but there’s was no place to really put a new stadium.  The historical society was adamant about not letting Soldier Field being torn down.  Since historic preservation laws only prevent the exterior from being destroyed, the designers on the new Soldier Field gutted the place and landed a spaceship on top of the existing stone structure.  Technically, the old walls and columns that defined the building are still there, but they are overshadowed by the monstrosity that was set on top of it.  From a visual standpoint, it’s the ugliest sports stadium in the country.  The historic designation was eventually stripped and Chicago was left with a pimple on the supermodel-like face that is the skyline. 

The inside of the stadium is a much different story.  I remember the old Soldier Field as being archaic and uncomfortable.  If you sat in the end zone, you felt like you were a mile away from the action.  It was cold, uninviting, and uncomfortable.  While the new stadium look awful, it is a much more enjoyable place to watch a game or see a show.  Read the rest of this entry »