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Helpful Tips When Visiting a Sports Arena For the First Time

January 21, 2014
Anyone can go to a sports venue and check it off of a to-do list, but there is a difference between going to a venue and experiencing a venue. Below is a brief guide on how to get an “A” experience in the factors within your control when you make a cameo at a venue for the first time.
Get there early-You don’t need to campout overnight, but try and get inside the venue at least half an hour before start. Pre-game activity is a part of the experience. Some venues keep you entertained in your seat while others offer amenities around the concourse like a bar or a neat museum. Be there for the anthem and witness the energy during starting lineups or for when the home team is introduced. There are also places like Yankee Stadium or Lambeau Field that warrant an especially early arrival to tour legendary Monument Park or The Atrium, respectively. Many of the “historic” franchises will have in stadium museums.
It’s like when you get to school a bit early and hang out with your friends–you get a few laughs in and it sets the tone as you head to first period. Then there’s the kid who shows up late and has to be business immediately. When you show up mid-game, it sometimes takes you a second to gather your place and maybe that “thing” you wanted to do becomes inconvenient now that the venue is packed and that the game is in motion.
Experience the unique AND the ordinary Go to Wrigley and sit in the bleachers. A trip to Lambeau? Go in November or December. Make sure to buy one of Myron Cope’s Terrible Towels in Pittsburgh. Each venue has traditions or elements unique to the team, the city, or the venue, itself. Try them out. Immerse yourself. After all, that’s what makes each venue special.
At the same token, test out the ordinary. I always like to have a hot dog at a ballgame and let my taste buds tell me which venues do the little things the best. There’s no need to inundate yourself with the ordinary, but find something you know most, if not all, venues will have and see how they measure up against one another.
Take a lap The sights, the sounds, the smells, and the energy are all a part of the experience. I love walking around and looking at the nooks and crannies of a venue; hearing the fans with their accents talk about the matchup or a kid tug on a dad’s hand telling him how excited he is for the game; the smell of the barbeque and gravity of the history–it’s all so special. You can do this before the game (an advantage of getting there a bit early) or during the game, but try to avoid in-game high traffic times like halftime of a basketball game or a in between periods of a hockey game. During these times you sometimes find yourself worrying more about not getting in the way or keeping up with the pace of foot traffic than actually enjoying your stroll.
Be a fan You don’t have to switch allegiances but root for a close game. Blowouts don’t allow you to truly grasp the energy contained within a structure or demonstrated by a fan-base. Whether it’s the joy or anguish of the result for the home team, palpable emotion is moving. With that said, if you find it within yourself to root for the home team, even if just for that day or night, then you can maybe take it to the next level. Some of the traditions for wins, like “Dirty Water” at Fenway Park, help round out the experience.
Then there are instances that more directly benefit you. When I made my pilgrimmage to Wrigley in May of 2013, I pulled for the Cubbies and found free nachos and a beer in my lap courtesy of a fan who wanted to show me a good time at “his home.” Fans take pride in their “home” and you never know when your cheer or high-five, be it genuine or not, can get you some free food and drink.
What’s your stamp? ____________ Fill in the blank yourself. Find something to make your own that will make your trip memorable. Some people make sure to always take a picture with the field/ice/court/etc. in the background while others buy a shot glass with the home team’s logo. Maybe it’s getting an extra-large soda so as to get the souvenir cup or something as cheap as your ticket stub. Be creative. Find something. Make it yours. Maybe it’s a T-Shirt…
Speaking of T-shirts, you don’t have to travel anywhere to wear the hottest sports logo t-shirts. In fact, you can join our T-shirt of the Month club and each month, you’ll receive an awesome t-shirt that will become a closet favorite.
We’d love to hear about your stadium experiences and any tips that you have that we can pass on. Let us know!
Thanks as always for reading,
Jared Sandler
Awesome Sports Logos Columnist
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