The Ultimate Sports Road Trip

Saturday, June 23, 2007

We've joined the WNY Media family!

This will be our final post at this location. Effective immediately, The Ultimate Sports Road Trip is now part of the Western New York Media Network. We are looking forward to our participation with their evolving and growing sports information function.

We ask our readers to hit the link listed below and update your bookmark.

See you over at WNYM!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Kane goes first.....Oden to do the same????

Yep, as expected Buffalo's own Patrick Kane is selected with the first pick overall in the NHL draft tonight. Since Chicago picked him up we assume that the smile for the cameras was almost as real as Eli Manning's was after being selected by the Chargers.

Great for him, and congrats on being (to the best of my recollection) the first Buffalo born athlete to be taken first in an amateur draft in one of the four major sports leagues.

The amazing thing about that last statement is that the second one could be coming up next Thursday night. Ohio State's Greg Oden (born in Buffalo) is the odds on favorite to be selected first in this season's NBA draft. What are the odds on that? Have to wonder if the possibility of two top draft picks from the same city/geographical area in the same season has ever occured before.

There's gotta be a photo op for these two sometime soon......

Good grief! Another billion dollar stadium

The price tag of a new Minnesota Vikings stadium is expected to flirt with $1 billion by 2009. The projected cost of a stadium with a retractable roof on the site of the Metrodome is $954 million, based on 2008 costs for materials. But this week the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, owners of the Metrodome and the Vikings' public partner in pursuit of a new stadium, said that stadium costs would rise by about $41 million if the Legislature approves a new stadium in 2009, rather than next year. That would bring the total cost to $995 million.

Meanwhile, the Vikings are movng ahead to acquire four blocks of land immediately to the west of the current Metrodome site, at a cost of $45 million. The plan is still to build a new stadium on the footprint of the current Metrodome and then redevelop the surrounding neighborhood as part of a comprehensive plan.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

*sigh*... So many Christians, so few lions...

Faith Night at Dunn Tire Park this Saturday.

This act got booted from Turner Field in Atlanta last summer, and yes this was the event where pitcher John Smoltz delivered his famed "sermon on the mound". Fans attending that game were greeted by religious pilgrims from Focus on the Family passing out materials outside the stadium about its programs. Some of the brochures highlighted at the game, according to the Focus on the Family’s website, included its Focus on Parenting program, which features a “Hot Topic” about children and homosexuality and how gay activist groups are “targeting” public schools. Other materials passed out included a packet on its endorsements of reparative therapy, or the “ex-gay” movement.

And there was more... our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, or someone who was a dead ringer, was also in attendance outside the ballpark grounds that day, wearing his white robe, thorny crown and dragging his heavy cross, while his entourage passed out slingers urging support of a ballot referendum defining marriage in Georgia as between a man and a woman. So those pesky homos in Georgia want to get married??? Oh, the horror of it all!

The Braves and their owners, Time Warner, received so many complaints from fans that they pulled the plug on future Faith Nights. Yet the Buffalo Bisons apparently see fit to open up our ballpark for these traveling clowns.

I think I'll pass on Faith Night. Call me instead when the Bisons bring in these two as headliners:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Huntington Park renderings unveiled

Things are taking shape nicely for the new home of the IL Columbus Clippers, set to open in Columbus' Arena District in 2009.

More from the Columbus Dispatch

HERE is a .pdf file online showing a map of the Arena District and the positioning of the new ballpark. Besides Nationwide Arena, this neighborhood is already blossoming with retail outlets, restaurants, nightclubs, offices and residential units... everything our Cobblestone District and Canalside hopes to become.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Columbus' Brandon Watson - one amazing streak.

It came to an end last Rochester. Brandon Watson of the Columbus Clippers had hit safely in 43 straight games, breaking an International League record that had stood since 1912.

From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle... But on Monday he struck out looking in the first, flied to center in the third, struck out swinging in the fourth, grounded to third in the sixth and struck out swinging in the eighth. As he walked to the dugout after his last at-bat, many fans gave the left-handed hitter a standing ovation.

Ironically, the former record of 42 games was set by Jack Lelivelt who played for the Rochester Hustlers, which was the nickname of their minor league team back then.

Bisons Manager Torey Lovullo offered these thoughts on Watson's accomplishment. "When you've played the game as I have and hit for 20 games you feel pretty good about your approach and here you have a guy who doubled it. He should feel very proud of what he managed to accomplish."

Lovullo drew a few laughs when he talked about watching highlights of the record breaker the night before on ESPN's Sportscenter. The game took place up in Ottawa's Lynx Stadium. "I said to myself... That's Ottawa? They got cameras there?"

The absolute best hitting streak in AAA goes back to 1933... Joe DiMaggio put together a 61 game hitting streak for the PCL San Francisco Seals. At the corner of 16th and Bryant in San Francisco is a tavern named "Double Play", kitty corner from what was the site of Seals Stadium. Yes Joltin Joe's feat is showcased there among all the awesome Seals baseball memorabilia. And yes, the USRT made the pilgrimage to soak it all in. Why are you not surprised???

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Eat For The Cycle

Our friends at Frontier Field in Rochester always seem to be at the cutting edge of cool promotional ideas.

This season, fans are encouraged to "Eat For The Cycle", and try each of the specialty hot dogs which will be rolled out during separate homestands throughout July and August. Fans can have a card punched on each purchase, and if you try all four you get a free t-shirt memorializing your accomplishment.

Here is the mouth watering lineup...

Ay Chihauhau (at the La Fiesta stand, first base side of the concourse)
Quarter-pound hot dog on a sausage roll topped with lettuce, onions, taco beef, tomatoes, nacho cheese and jalapeƱos. Served with a side of tortilla chips topped with nacho cheese.

Tony Soprano ( at Mama Mittsy's, near the front gates)
Quarter-pound hot dog on a sausage roll topped with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni. This "capo" (boss) of dogs will be run thru the pizza oven for toasting and melting. Served with a side of two breadsticks and marinara.

French Poodle (at Batter Up, third base side of the concourse)
Quarter-pound hot dog on a sausage roll topped with fresh cut French fries and coleslaw. Served with a side of fresh cut fries.

Bar-B-Dog (at Big Red BBQ, third base side of the concourse)
Quarter pound hot dog on a sausage roll topped with pulled pork BBQ, nacho cheese and onions. Served with a side of tortilla chips topped with nacho cheese.

Back in 1999 Pete and I both "ate for the cycle" at Milwaukee's old County Stadium... we did separate concession runs and had a bratwurst, kielbasa, italian sausage and a cheesy grillwurst all during the same game!

We're heading to Rochester to cover the Bisons/Red Wings the weekend of June 30, and this will be worth checking out!

Friday, June 15, 2007

You think this Inner Harbor obstructionist nonsense only happens in Buffalo?

Memo to Tim Tielman, or the residents of Granger Place, or Judge Elfvin and the rest of the geriatrics living on Gates Circle.... you are not alone! You have comrades in arms, soulmates, and rebels for a common cause, and they are alive and well in Pittsburgh!

As part of the complex deal to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh, the team was given development rights for the land where Mellon Arena stands now, as well as adjacent open space on the north side of the old venue. While site plans and renderings are yet to be unveiled, the team has indicated that they are contemplating an exciting mixed use commercial, residential and entertainment district to compliment the new arena across the street.

Like Buffalo's Cobblestone District and Canalside, sounds like a win-win for everybody right?

Not so fast, say the residents of the adjacent Hill District, who have formed a group called the "One Hill CBA Coalition". According to this article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the group wants an ironclad community benefits agreement to cover things like minority hiring and other vague issues. Read between the lines, and what they really want is their hockey team relocated to Kansas City, and a rusting, boarded up hulk of an arena sitting vacant close to their back yards.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hamilton Predators season tickets on sale now

Nope... no kidding... check it out right here at $1000 deposit will reserve you a lower bowl seat and $500 in the upper bowl.

Info from the ticketmaster site:
If and when the NHL allows a team to relocate to Hamilton, a sales representative will contact you with season ticket seating location information. Seating locations will be allocated based on when the deposits were made, with earlier deposits being offered the better seating locations. At that time the depositor can choose to purchase the offered tickets or request a refund of their deposit. Deposits will be automatically refunded in the event that it is determined that the team will not be moving to Hamilton, but in any event no later than December 2009. If deposits exceed expected available seating, depositors will be placed on a priority waiting list based on when their deposits were made. Deposits will also be available at any time by requesting a refund from Ticketmaster's Customer Service Department. Interest will not be paid on refunded deposits.

But as this article in today's Toronto Star indicates, Copps Coliseum is nowhere near the standards of a suitable NHL facility. We couldn't agree more, having paid multiple visits to that arena we can state they aren't even among the elite AHL venues. Last September we took in the Sabres/Penguins exhibition game, our first time ever there in a media capacity, and were horrified at the cramped pressbox, postgame press room and corridor were one and the same, and the dressing rooms for the players were appalling. By contrast, an NHL team in Winnipeg's MTS Centre would be awesome!

Regier and Ruff are back - Reporting from the Sabres press conference

I got down to HSBC Arena this morning to take part in the news conference where Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier were formally designated as the returning Head Coach and General Manager of the Buffalo Sabres. For Ruff it is a three year contract with an option for a fourth, whle Regier gets a two year deal. 'We got these guys for substantially below what they would earn in the open market" said Managing Partner Larry Quinn, while not revealing the specific dollar amounts of the deals.

Both men admitted that leaving Buffalo was never really an option or a consideration. Quinn stated that discussions on a new deal had taken place before the season ended, and everyone needed time to decompress after the disappointing finish to the year. Said Ruff, "Buffalo has become one of the best hockey cities. It's a great place to play; It's a great place to coach."

Of course, the questions turned towards the signing of the teams' marquee players, Chris Drury and Daniel Briere, as well as speculation over the status of restricted free agent Thomas Vanek. Quinn stated that the team budget next year will be higher than this year's. Regier also indicated that inquiries have been made to both co-captains through their agents, but admitted that if these discussions go beyond July 1, they will most likely be gone. As for Vanek, Regier offered some reassuring words. "I'm not a believer in operating out of fear. We'll be fine with Thomas at the end of the day."

A number of media members pressed the trio on the team's negotiating policy, and Quinn was quick to defend their approach. 'We've evolved with our contract policy. We used to work under one year contracts. When you do this negotiating during the course of a season, you subtract elsewhere on the team and everybody on the team knows it." Talking to some of the reporters afterwards, most of us saw this line as a bunch of hoo-ey and weren't buying it.

Quinn also stressed this point and asked us to report it. "We are offering mini packs!" Quinn stated that the team's season ticket base of just under 15,000 remains intact, the Sabres will offer mini packs and variable pricing on games, and recommended that fans wishing to attend games consider mini packs, warning that "we speculate that there will be few single seats available once tickets go on sale." Quinn also said there would be a slight price increase for single ticket costs. The Sabres had previously announced an 8% increase on average for season tickets.

One parting comment --- guess which moron forgot to turn his cell phone on to vibrate? Sure enough, my pocket goes off, and rings and rings... prompting Darcy to comment on the noise and jokingly suggest a $50 fine for the infraction. I slunk in my chair, tried not to call attention to myself, but those sitting around me, including Jim Fink from Business First and Janet Schultz from WNY Hockey...had me pegged. I was busted!