Corey Crawford warming up before the game.
This month’s Sports Traveler blog takes us to the “Windy City” in which I reside, Chicago! The city has its fair share of amazing sports venues, and this month’s blog highlights “The Madhouse on Madison.”
The United Center hosts both the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, two teams always competitive in their respective divisions. And it was last Friday I attended a Blackhawks game right at the United Center. From the moment you pull unto Madison Avenue on the West side of Chicago you can feel the energy radiate from the fans on the street all marching towards the United Center! Half of the fun of the night was interacting with other fans, including fans of the opponents at the game.
I was just getting into the arena a few minutes late, side note always leave early to guarantee stress-free parking, and walked into a guttural rendition of O-Canada. One of the most famous traditions at the United Center came next, the cheering of the national anthem! The UC literally was rocking as the anthem was song by Chicago’s very own Jim Cornelison.
The Blackhawks were taking on the Edmonton Oilers, the fast paced Canadian team riddled with young stars on the rise. The game was a close match and quite a few times you were on the edge of your seat as both teams jockeyed for rebounds and loose pucks. The best part of the evening came during the shootout when the game became an one-on-one battle between goalie and skater. Of course the my hometown Hawks came away with the win after Antoine Vermette sealed the game with his shootout goal!
What came next after the goal is what makes any Blackhawks experience a treat at the UC, Chelsea Dagger! The song blasts through the arena after every Hawks goal, and by the night’s end every fan was up singing the tune as the building celebrated from the 300 level to the 100 level. If you are ever passing through the city of Chicago, I truly recommend taking in a Blackhawks game at the UC. The energy in that building truly lives up to its name, “The Madhouse on Madison.” Just give us a call and ask for me Jake, I will be more than happy to help take you plan a trip to enjoy a hockey experience like mine!
The following is an except from an interview with Kenneth Sherwin for the book Sports Traveler – Chicago. Sadly, the world lost Kenny this week. Thanks Kenny for the great stories and support of our company.
Kenny Sherwin – Your Beer Man
If you attend any games at the U.S. Cellular Field, United Center, or Wrigley Field you may recognize Kenny Sherwin as your “Beer Man”. Kenny has been a beer vendor in Chicago’s top sports arenas since 1981. He’s served tens of thousands of beers to fans from all over the world with a smile and his trademark saying, “that will be $7, including shipping and handling”. While serving up brews to us fans, Kenny has also been witness to some of Chicago’s greatest sports moments.
He was there in the old Chicago Stadium when Michael Jordan first joined the team and was in the house to watch Jordan and the Bulls play for many of their Championship years. And when the team moved into the United Center, he watched the Bulls win three more titles, all while juggling our beers and navigating up and down the stairs. He also works most Cubs day games and White Sox games – sometimes pulling his own cross-town series by working them both on the same day.
He is an avid autograph collector and as you can imagine, after over 27 years of working games, he has accumulated countless autographs from some of sports most famous players. His favorite things to get signed are baseballs. He has the autographs of Michael Jordan, Sammy Sosa, John Garland, Jose Contreras, Ken Griffey, and Mark Buerhle to name a few. His favorites include Ichiro Suzuki and Cal Ripken, Jr.
Beer vendors are some of the first people let into the ballparks and arenas to get set up to serve. Over the years, this access has allowed Kenny to meet many of the players personally.
“They tell us (vendors) that we aren’t supposed to ask for autographs, but after so many years of seeing these guys, you kind of form a relationship. And after all these years, who cares? I like talking to the guys and asking them to sign for me.”
Kenny with Cal Ripken Jr. in 1994
One of Kenny’s favorite stories is about his meeting Cal Ripken, Jr. “In 1994 or 1995, I waited for his team bus to unload and for him to sign an autograph, and he signed a ball. And the next day he came back again and signed another ball. And the next day he came back, and he signed yet another ball. But this time I gave him a Michael Jordan signed baseball that I had because I already had 5 of them. He was such a nice guy and some players you meet are real jerks. We took a picture together. That was a real special moment for me. Thinking back over 25 years plus of doing this, that is probably my top moment.”
He also has a collection of autographed Bulls basketballs signed by most of the Championship teams, including many pictures signed by Michael Jordan. He also has hundreds of signed hockey pucks from his days at the old Chicago Stadium including Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Hull, and “a bunch from guys that I can’t tell who they are… hockey players are scribblers!”
Kenny says he does his job not just because he is a big sports fan, but because he likes to be outside at the ballpark and mingle with the crowds in the stands. “I do what I do because I like hanging out with the fans and talking to them during the game. It’s always fun”. So the next time you are at a Cubs, White Sox, Bulls or Blackhawks game, take a good look at your Beer Man and if it’s Kenny be sure to say “hi” and when you pay for your beer remember include the “shipping and handling”.
In memory of our friend Kenny. Gone too soon and will be missed!
AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX will be the host of the National Championship Game.
We are getting close to college football bowl season, but things are going to be a little different this year. Yes you probably have heard by now that the college football playoff is beginning this bowl season, and with it some sweeping changes are changing how we crown the national champion. Goodbye to the former BCS National Championship and hello to the College Football Semi-Final Bowl games.
With four teams going into a win or go home playoff things are going to get very interesting. With all this said, it is time to breakdown my predicted top four for the season’s end!
My Top Four:
1. Alabama- Roll Tide! This Alabama team started out slow, but has quickly shaped into one of the best teams in college football this season. The Crimson Tide have soundly beaten some great teams such as the Mississippi State Bulldogs and LSU Tigers. They clearly can win out and easily take the SEC crown, but they have to be on upset alert when preparing to face Auburn. If the Crimson Tide can escape the Iron Bowl with a win, then they are a sure lock as the number one seed and SEC Champions.
2. Oregon- What can I say the Ducks are just too high powered of an offense to stop. Oh and don’t even get me started on Marcus Mariota’s dominance at quarterback. Mariota can torch you with his legs or his arm and teams really have not figured out how to stop the Ducks high octane attack. Sorry UCLA Bruins fans but this Oregon team is claiming the PAC-12 Title. I expect the Ducks to easily win the PAC-12 championship and be the number two seed.
3. Ohio State- Yes “The Ohio State” is my pick to end up in the three spot when the season is through! I do not believe Florida State can hold unto the three seed and will probably lose to the Gators by the season’s end, thus the Buckeyes come into play. This team passes the eye test and rookie quarterback JT Barrett has developed this season to become a solid starter under center while Braxton Miller was sidelined with injury. I expect this team to run the table, but that is more of a testament to how poorly the Big Ten is playing and less on the overall strength of the Buckeyes.
4. TCU- There has not been a TCU team this electrifying since Andy Dalton was playing at quarterback, but this team’s passing game under Trevone Boykin has been exceptional. The junior QB has been making all the right decisions and limiting his turnovers all season. I expect this team to easily get buy a rebuilding Longhorns team and to defeat a perennial Big 12 weakling in Iowa State. This team is too good not to finish in the top four, but the Big 12’s lack of a conference championship will hurt this team’s final seeding by season’s end.
Those are my projected final four standings by the season’s end! Sorry to the fans in Mississippi, but the Bulldogs and the Ole Miss Rebels just don’t seem capable of breaking the top four with these other quality teams ahead of them in the standings. Some of this may seem far-fetched just remember anything can happen with the new playoff selection committee.
Also be sure to book soon to see your favorite team play this Bowl Season whether you are thinking of seeing the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, or the National Championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. We have the best tickets and travel packages ready for you this college football bowl season!
The rock formations within the cave were truly jaw dropping.
Before we get into the heart of this month’s travel blog I feel it would be best to introduce myself to you all. My name is Jake Alleruzzo, the newest addition to the Sports Traveler staff. I myself have a very deep passion for sports travel and thought writing our latest blog entry would be a great way to share my experiences with you fellow sports travelers.
About a month ago I took a trip to Missouri to a beautiful region called Lake of the Ozarks, located just a few miles south of Kansas City. Being in the far western edge of Missouri is quite a unique experience, considering the mixed fandom between Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals fans. While we were in the western tip of Missouri I could have sworn I was in the heart of Kansas City as I drove through town and saw Royals flags hanging about. This goes to show you that you never know what kind of fans you can find as you travel through any given town.
Now going through this town you would figure there is not much to do besides traveling a little further up north and catching a game at Kauffman Ballpark… dead wrong! My time at Lake of the Ozarks led me on many small adventures in my weekend long stay. My very favorite adventure being a trip through one of the states largest caves which housed many bats, old native american tools, and plenty of cave crystals. It is really a sight to behold when you stare up to a ceiling and see about a dozen bats staring right back at you!
Outside of my little cave adventure I thought I would also check out the local cuisine, something I definitely am glad I did. Despite not being near a major city, the local dining was fantastic with eateries that specialized in authentic Italian and Asian cooking. I was actually able to locate a wonderful Chicago style deep dish, and Vietnamese pho in one weekend! Now how many places can have both those specialties in one area?
As my weekend getaway came to an end I began to realize how special a place, the Lake of the Ozarks are in Missouri. The region while divided by baseball allegiances, is still home to some of the most friendly people in the country. So next time you are making a trip to catch a Royals game, why not take a short drive south of Kansas City and experience a wonderful piece of Missouri hospitality.
Join Anbritt in London in November!
I love London and I love the Dallas Cowboys so when the opportunity came to host this years NFL International Series in London when the Dallas Cowboys play the Jacksonville Jaguars in November I was in!
I’ve hosted tours all over the world during the past 14 years at Sports Traveler and this trip is one that I am really looking forward to.
From Westminster Abbey to Big Ben to St. Paul’s Cathedral, the city is filled with history and amazing architecture at every turn. I love the fish and chips and taking a walk on the River Thames. I love the cool air on my face. And then there is the game at the incredible Wembley Stadium. I can hardly wait to show you everything while we are in this amazing city!
On November 6th, we’ll start out at Heathrow Airport where our guides will meet and greet you after your arrival and transfer you to our host hotel. We will be staying at the Copthorne Tara Hotel, located right in the heart of everything you’ll want to see in the city center. After you check in and take a rest, join me at our welcome dinner. We’ll get to know each other and I’ll fill you in on all the details of the coming days.
The next morning, the 7th, we’ll head out for a guided tour of the city via motor coach. We’ll make several stops, so make sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. In the afternoon, you will be free to explore the city on your own.
On the 8th, enjoy the first part of the day at your leisure. That afternoon, I’ll escort the group from our hotel to Piccadilly Circus to enjoy the NFL Festival. Scheduled to appear are the players and cheerleaders from each team.
Game day is the 9th and we will be traveling via luxury motorcoach for a hassle free transfer through the streets of London from our hotel to Wembley Stadium.
On the 10th, we’ll transfer you back to the airport for your return flight home.
This is going to be one memorable trip. Sightseeing in London and great NFL football! I hope you can join me and maybe even think about extending your trip to see other parts of the UK.
See you in London in November!
Little Silver Charm, the star of Old Friends Retirement Farm
I now follow a horse on Twitter and Facebook. But this isn’t just any horse, he is the great Little Silver Charm. I met him for the first time on the farm where he is spending his “retirement years”, Old Friends, an equine retirement center home located in Georgetown, Kentucky, just outside of Lexington.
Old Friends is home to many past Derby winners and race horses, but the real star is Little Silver Charm or ‘Charmie’ as he’s known to his thousands of followers and fans (follow him on Twitter or his Facebook page). He was a rescue show pony who today considers himself an entertainer.
He’s a blonde, loves kids, carrots, and plays soccer in YouTube videos. He often talks about his crush, a horse named Zenyatta, and he seems to enjoy posing for quite a few pictures that are auctioned off to benefit Old Friends. He even has his own miniature replica toy available on Ebay.
View of the Irish Sea - Northern Ireland
I recently traveled to Ireland and Northern Ireland to see exactly where I come from. I ended up in the little coastal town in Northern Ireland called Annalong located an hour north of Dublin, right at the base of the Mourne Mountains.
I walked the shores of the Irish Sea on a gravel-like sand, visited the church where my great-grandfather worshipped, and hiked The Kingdom of Mourne, a place my cousin described as the ‘Center of the Universe’. Here you can see the mountains, the sea, and the green earth all in one glance. Incredible.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will feature some of the best talent the game has seen from any era. Cooperstown, NY will be the place to be on July 26th as the Class of 2014 is inducted.
This summer the baseball community will gladly welcome in three legends of baseball. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas will all have their places cemented in MLB history. All three new member of the Hall of Fame managed to do so in their first year of eligibility. This is the first time since 1999 that we have three first ballot HOF’ers in the same year. Any clue who those three players were? (more…)
I haven’t been to the Staples Center for a few years, so when I had a trade show to attend at the Los Angeles Convention Center I was in! The convention center is part of an area called “LA Live” that features an impressive array of hotels, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues including the Staples Center. The Staples Center is home to the LA Lakers and LA Clippers NBA teams as well as the LA Kings NHL team.
If you are heading to the area, I highly recommend staying at the JW Marriott LA Live. The hotel has large modern rooms, oversized bathrooms, and a lovely pool area with a hot tub. The views from the rooms are also fantastic. My room faced the famous Hollywood sign in the hills. Try to upgrade your room to the Executive Club level and get your breakfast, wine-time, evening appetizers and desserts served in the club’s 4th floor. It’s well worth the upgrade cost.
It seems most everything is within walking distance to the LA Live area. The shopping district is 6 blocks away and there is also affordable shopping nearby including a Target. Dining options are plentiful with over 22 options to choose from. Affordable options included Rock n Fish. Higher end options include Wolf Gang Pucks Bar and Grill. I loved LA Market, located in the lobby of the JW. It’s not your typical hotel restaurant and had a great seasonal menu. I had a delicious grilled Halibut sandwich.
If you are staying on a non-game day, take in a movie or head over to the Grammy Museum. If you get the desire to head to the beach, take the #10 bus (The Big Blue Bus, $2 one-way) over to Santa Monica or rent a car for the day from Hertz, located in the lower level of the JW Marriott.
The Staples Center is a great venue but try to sit on the first level, if at all possible. The distance between the first levels and the upper deck is huge. If this is your one and only trip to a game, sit low.
LAX airport transfer was a $47.50 cab fare one-way or take the Super Shuttle for $16 one-way, shared ride.
I’d love to help you plan your sports trip to LA. Give our office a call at 1-888-654-7755!
This weekend Damian Lillard will have the opportunity to expedite his path to becoming great. In just his second year Lillard has the chance to become the king of NBA All-Star weekend.
Damian Lillard is not your average NBA sophomore and this weekend he will be out to prove it. Baring any last minute changes the Portland guard will be competing in almost every possible event during the NBA All-Star weekend. The only event he will not compete in is the Sears Shooting Star competition. A competition that is more like the celebrity game than a true challenge. So for the purpose of this accomplishment we can just say he is competing in every All-Star event.
1, 2, 3 Go!
It will all begin with the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge. Last year Lillard played in this game and managed 18 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals. A nice line but not worthy of MVP. So this year he will have another shot to make his mark against the players of his generation and possibly take home an MVP. (more…)
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