Dow Gardens

14 03 2009
  • 1809 Eastman Ave.
  • Midland, MI 48640
  • (989) 631-2677
  • Website
Dow Gardens in Midland

Dow Gardens in Midland

Why not drive an hour and a half to look at butterflies?  J and her mom were both super excited about the Butterflies in Bloom exhibit that is going on at Dow Gardens and since they just happened to decide to visit us while it was going on, we took a road trip north. 

Dow Gardens is on Eastman Road right next to the Midland Center for the Arts on Eastman Road.  They sort of share a parking lot so if you’re unfamiliar with the area, your tempted towards the bigger building, but the Dow Gardens is actually the smaller of the two tucked in near the back of the lot.  Don’t worry, there’s a big sign out front.

Your first stop is the visitors center which is where you pay admission.  There’s also a gift shop which they have set up as your last stop on your way out.  If you live in Midland or the surrounding area, your much better off buying a season pass at $10.  Since two of us were from Chicago and the other two from Lansing, we just opted for the day pass which is $5.  Obviously, if you plan on visiting more than twice, the season pass is the better deal.  Read the rest of this entry »


The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor

1 03 2009
  • 377 Riverside Drive
  • Windsor, ON N9A 7H7
  • (519) 258-7878
  • Website
The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor

The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor

I have never been outside the United States.  I’ve never had any reason.  Hell, until a few years ago, the only time I had been on an airplane was my 8th grade class trip to Washington DC.  Traveling farther than driving distance just wasn’t something my family did.  Now, Canada is within driving distance and there was a concert J wanted to see at Caesars Windsor, so I did all the research about what we need to travel back and forth to Canada then bought a couple tickets to see Miranda Lambert.
Getting to Canada and back home had literally kept me up at night for a week.  People do it everyday, so I’m not sure why I was so worried about it, but I was just anxious about making sure I knew where we were going and what we needed to get back into the country.  Since we were downtown in Detroit, the GPS sent us to the Detroit-Windsor tunnel.  I had no idea what to expect.  I paid the toll them waited as five lanes converged down to one.  I think J was a little nervous about using the tunnel, but I just do what the GPS tells me.  It took about a half hour to get through.  When your stuck in bumper to bumper traffic under a river, you do kind of start thinking about what could go wrong.  We got to the other end and talked to the border agent who wished us luck when I told him where we were headed. 

Caesars Windsor sits right on the river and is highly visible from downtown Detroit.  We could see the neon signs well before we made it to the border crossing.  From the time we got to Windsor, it felt like we were just going in circles.  We got to the casino then went around the block what seemed like six times to get to the self park parking garage.  We made our way all the way to the top then hit the elevator back to the third level where the pedestrian bridge is.  Read the rest of this entry »

McCormick Place – Chicago

16 02 2009
  • 2301 S. Lakeshore Drive
  • Chicago, IL 60616
  • (312) 791-7000
  • Website
The entrance to McCormick Place in Chicago.

The entrance to McCormick Place in Chicago.

This is funny.  Last month, when I was writing the review for Cobo Hall after we went to the North American International Auto Show, I mentioned I had never been to the Chicago Auto Show or McCormick Place.  I happened to be home this year during the auto show and I asked my dad if he wanted to go.  You see, he was supposed to drive up for the Detroit show, but snow kept them home.  I figured the Chicago Auto Show was a good replacement…and boy, was it.


McCormick Place is on Chicago’s South Side right where I-55 (Stevenson Expressway) turns into the famous Lake Shore Drive.  When you’re on the highway, it’s really tough to see anything other than a massive building.  I had no idea what the front of the building looked like or even how to get to a door from Lake Shore drive, but I have driven by it hundreds of times.  Read the rest of this entry »

Jenison Field House

9 02 2009
  • 248 Jenison Fieldhouse
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • (517) 355-1610
  • Website
The entrance to Jenison Fieldhouse on MSUs campus

The entrance to Jenison Fieldhouse on MSU's campus

I wish my first visit to Jenison Field House was thirty years.  When I walked in to the building for the first time, the first and only thing I could think was, “I bet this place was loud.”  I knew of Jenison before I moved to Lansing.  Who hasn’t?  I loved watching the old clips of Magic Johnson in East Lansing.  I can only imagine what the place was like.  Sure, it’s huge, but those big cavernous ceilings had to make the place loud.

Jenison Field House is on the campus of MSU just off Kalamazoo Street.  It’s just a block or so from it’s replacement, the Jack Breslin Student Events Center (review HERE).  It’s a huge building.  At first, I was wondering how they would even do basketball, but figured it out after seeing the wrestling set up. 

Jenison was opened in 1940 and was the home to Spartan basketball until 1989.  The facility is now used for Women’s volleyball, gymnastics, wrestling, and indoor track & field as well as a practice facility for a number of MSU sports.  There is permanent seating in an upper deck that runs around the entire facility.  The surface is a multi purpose rubber which is used for track and field.  When other events are held in the Field House, a curtain is dropped to divide the arena into a smaller area and portable bleachers are brought in to fill out the empty spaces.  Read the rest of this entry »

Cobo Center

24 01 2009
  • 1 Washington Boulevard
  • Detroit, MI 48226
  • (313) 877-8111
  • Website
The Cobo Center in downtown Detroit

The Cobo Center in downtown Detroit

I really didn’t want to miss the auto show.  My family has always talked about making the drive to Detroit, but this year, I live an hour and a half away.  I really didn’t have an excuse not to go, so J and I got up early and made the trip to Detroit.  We were going to the auto show.

The Cobo Center is in downtown Detroit near the river.  We made it downtown with no problem.  Being veterans of Chicago traffic made navigating Detroit that much easier.  The problem was, we didn’t know where to park.  There was some confusion on Jefferson street which put us down by Joe Louis Arena.  We didn’t want to park there because we didn’t know where we were, so we took a “Michigan Left” and headed back the way we came.  After another “Michigan Left” we were back in front of Cobo.  Still not sure where to go, I took a right where we finally saw some parking garages.  Surprisingly, it was only ten bucks and a really short walk to the entrance of the conference center.

Inside, the Cobo Center is huge.  It’s probably comparable to McCormack Place in Chicago…but I wouldn’t know.  I’ve never been there.  Sad, huh.  Anyway, we walked the lobby area until we found a ticket kiosk.  There were options to either buy from a ticket window or use a computer.  Buying tickets from a person meant cash only.  Using the computer wsa the only way to use a credit card.  Read the rest of this entry »

Crisler Arena

18 01 2009
  • 333 E. Stadium Blvd
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48104
  • (734) 998-7236
  • Website
Crisler Arena on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor

Crisler Arena on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor

When I got the e-mail asking if I was available to shoot men’s basketball at Crisler Arena, I have to admit, I was a little pumped.  Growing up in the far away land of Central Illinois, Ann Arbor was this far away, mystical place we saw on TV every Saturday afternoon.  I would have been in junior high during the Fab Five years and there were wars at my house over college basketball.  My brother was a Michigan fan while I rooted for Duke.  This was also about the time Nike was coming out with “authentic” apparel.  My brother had the Jalen Rose jersey and matching shorts.  I had a number of Duke shooter shoots.  As far as we were concerned, Crisler Arena was one of those places we’d never go to, but would have given anything, at that time, to see a game there. 

Well, I got my chance 10 plus years later.  Crisler Arena is on the campus of  U of M in the shadow of Michigan Stadium.  My first impression was, “wow.”  That’s not a good wow.  That’s a “I can’t believe this” wow.  The place is so run down it doesn’t look fit for a basketball program with the history and aura of the Michigan Wolverines. The seats were rusted, they were small and low to the ground.  From a broadcast point of view, Crisler is one of the worst stadiums I’ve ever worked at.  I’ve never been to Big Ten stadium where all of the cable had to be run from the truck.  After being there five minutes, all the expectations I had as a kid were squashed.  I’m really glad my brother hasn’t been there. Read the rest of this entry »

Assembly Hall – Champaign, IL

22 12 2008
  • 1800 S. 1st St.
  • Champaign, IL 61820
  • (217) 333-5000
  • Website
An empty arena at the Assembly Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois

An empty arena at the Assembly Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois

Until last year, even though I lived near it all my life, I had never been to Assembly Hall in Champaign for a basketball game. Heck, until earlier this month, I had never even been to a college basketball game tha wasn’t for work. The same is still true in Champaign.

I spent another Saturday night in Illinois working. Assembly Hall isn’t the most modern arena in the Big Ten, but it does have it’s charm. The arena looks like a giant UFO. It must be a thing with Illinois arenas. I used to go to events at Assembly Hall when I was younger. We went to many Ice Capades in Champaign, but like I already mentioned, last year was the first time I had been there when the basketball floor was set up.

When you walk in to Assembly Hall, you come into a concourse level. You have to go up a series of ramps on the outside to get to the main gates. From the concourse level, you can enter the arena and either go up or down. Most of the day of sales tickets are up. Like most college basketball arenas, season ticket holders get the lower bowl while every one gets up in the B and C levels. There are portable bleachers in each end zone. The side near the tunnel and Illinois’ bench is for family and the band. The other end is for the Orange Crush (Illinois’ version of the IzZone.) Read the rest of this entry »

Convocation Center – DeKalb, IL

18 12 2008
  • 1525 W. Lincoln Highway
  • DeKalb, IL 60115
  • (815) 752-6831
  • Website
The Convocation Center on the campus of Northern Illinois University

The Convocation Center on the campus of Northern Illinois University

Here’s another Illinois school’s basketball arena I can cross off my list.  Northern Illinois University doesn’t get a whole lot of their basketball games televised.  They’re awfully close to Chicago, but not close enough to get a lot of attention from Comcast Sports Net.  The MAC doesn’t have a TV package with anyone, so televised games are few and far between in DeKalb. 

Southern Illinois University, on the other hand, has a good number of their games televised by Mediacomm (Comcast for Southern Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa).  They even do away games which is why I ended up in the rafters at the Convocation Center.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Convocation Center is that it’s not a huge arena.  All parking is on site and there’s only one way in where you’re directed to the nearest spot.  Once inside, it’s hard to realize NIU is not a Big Ten school.  The arena is a scaled down version of a major basketball arena.  You walk in on the concourse level between the upper and lower decks.  The walkways around the arena are actually an indoor track.  The whole area is carpeted and the bleachers push in and out like most high schools use.    Hell, there’s even a few luxury suites that open up into the arena with their own private seating section. Read the rest of this entry »

Munn Ice Arena

16 11 2008
  • 1 Chestnut Rd.
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • (517) 353-4698
  • Website
One of the endzones at Munn Ice Arena.  The view from my camera position.

One of the endzones at Munn Ice Arena. The view from my camera position.

I like hockey.  I like going to hockey games.  I like watching hockey.  I don’t do enough of either, so when I got a phone call to shoot CCHA hockey at Munn Ice Arena, I was pretty psyched.  I was just in Munn for the first time a week ago when I shot football across the street at Spartan Stadium and I thought then Munn would probably be a pretty good place to watch hockey.  I was right.

Munn Ice Arena is located on the campus of Michigan State University between Spartan Stadium and the Jack Breslin Student Events Center.   It’s a really interesting looking building.  Most of the arena is actually built into the terrain.  All you can see from the street is the roof of the building.  When you walk in, you’re at the concourse level and have to walk down to get to your seats.

Munn is a pretty good sized stadium for a hockey only arena.  The stadium holds almost 6500 people and most of those seats were pretty full the night I was there.  There are also suites on either side elevated above the seating area.  Most of the seating is bench seating, but the closer you get to the ice, there are some individual seats.  The interesting design thing, to me anyway, was the location of the team benches.  I don’t know if it’s unique to Munn or if it’s a college hockey thing (I come from an area where college hockey isn’t big, so I’ve never been to a game before). Read the rest of this entry »

Spartan Stadium

9 11 2008
  • 248 Jennison Fieldhouse
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • (517) 355-1610
  • Website
A full endzone at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing

A full endzone at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing

Finally!  When we moved here, I was really hoping to shoot a football game at Spartan Stadium and Michigan Stadium.  Spartan Stadium finally happened.  Michigan Stadium will have to wait and hopefully happen next year.  I’ve now shot games at six of the eleven Big Ten football stadiums (Memorial Stadium (IL), Ross-Ade Stadium (Purdue), Ryan Field (Northwestern), Kinnick Stadium (Iowa), and Camp Randall (Wisc)).  From a working standpoint, Spartan Stadium doesn’t rate that high.  Lack of elevators and access knock it down a lot.  Putting the camera deck in a location that’s not cut off totally from the public knocks it down too.  Parking, however, is one of the best.  They let us park not far from the truck which is outstanding.  I don’t have to carry all the stuff I may need two miles.  I can leave my rain gear until it rains.

So, as most of you know, Spartan Stadium sits on the campus of Michigan State University near the other sports facilities on MSU’s campus.  The first thing I noticed is that it looks much bigger from the outside than it does inside.  The luxury suites and press box tower make it look huge, but that structure also takes away a lot of seats.  Still, the facility hold close around 75,000, so it’s not small either.  Read the rest of this entry »