One of my favourite past times while traveling is attending sporting events. I will attend almost any event (except for basketball). Over the years I’ve found myself in cities during many high profile events such as Wimbledon in 1991, the Stanley Cup Finals in Washington in 1998, NFL Season Opener in Denver in 1998 and of course the Olympics in 2006, 2008 and 2010. I’ve also made it to many NHL, MLB and NFL games over the years. In fact on a few of occasions, (in Tampa and Denver twice) I’ve managed to catch a NHL, MLB and NFL game all in the same weekend. At the Olympics, I was lucky enough to attend the last two Canada Russia hockey quarter finals and in Beijing wandered in just as Michael Phelps won a Gold Medal.
However, as much fun as the ‘big’ events are, I’ve enjoyed many smaller and stranger events in small cities as well. Once in the mountains of Slovenia I came across the Cyprus National Soccer Team vs. a Div. 2 Slovenian Club Team. The entire small town was out for the event. I also make a point of hitting minor league baseball or junior hockey games in smaller cities. You really get a sense of a town and the people when watching a home game with them.
This past weekend in Toronto, I made it to three events in 24 hours. On Friday night, I was out at BMO field (thanks to the CSA) to watch World Cup Qualifying, Canada vs. Panama. The energy was great in the Stadium. It was my first time at BMO Field. It’s a great location with the city in the background. It is also nice and intimate. It’s a shame Vancouver does not have a similar facility. All in all, a great night as the Canadian Olympic Women’s team was honoured and Canada won the game. The next morning, I was off for a set of meetings at Rogers Centre for the Grey Cup. I then stayed for the Argos-TiCats game. I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere in the building. Since it was a rivalry game and the Argos are playing well the fans were right into the game.
As much as I enjoy the sporting events, I also am a Sports Stadium junkie. I make a point of checking out cool and historic facilities. I regret never getting to the Montreal Forum, Boston Gardens, Chicago Stadium or Yankee Stadium. I have been to Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and the mecca of tennis, Wimbledon. On Saturday night, I made it to the re-Opening of Maple Leaf Gardens. It is very unique how the ice level is now on third floor so the original roof structure is still visible. The history of the building is still palpable.