So if I were your sports tour guide and my only criteria was that Iíve attended a game in this particular venue, hereís my list of must-sees before you die.
5. Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.: I was raised going to Cal games every Saturday the same way that many of you were raised going to Michigan or MSU games. So admittedly, this is biased. But Memorial Stadium is one of the most beautiful stadiums in America. Itís carved into Strawberry Canyon in Berkeley and you can see San Francisco and the Bay Bridge if youíre sitting high enough on the east side of the stadium. The football has been largely mediocre over the years Ė but the venue is one of a kind.
4. Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway: No, Iím not a racing enthusiast. But they call this thing the ďGreatest Spectacle in SportsĒ for a reason. First, itís an institution in Indiana and fascinating to watch all the Hoosiers treat it as some sort of religious holiday. Second, the cars go SO much faster than you even realize. They say that TV doesnít do it justice. Thatís the understatement of all time. The cars are a blur Ė literally. Iíve never seen anything like it in sports.
3. Superdome event, New Orleans: It doesnít matter if itís the Final Four, the Super Bowl or just a random Saints game (bounties not included). You have to get to New Orleans for something just to experience the overall event. Bourbon Street is as advertised. Thereís this feeling that thereís a three day festival/party leading up to whatever game youíre attending. Itís the best way to watch sports. Instead of sitting in some hotel bar the night before, youíre with thousands of people on the street celebrating the game and the city. A friend of mine thinks that every major sporting event should be held in New Orleans. Who am I to disagree?
2. Fenway Park, Boston: Iíve been to Wrigley Field. Iíve been to Yankee Stadium. You can have 'em. Nothing compares to Fenway in terms of the close proximity of the stands and the knowledge of the fans. Ignore (if you can) the arrogance of Red Sox fans. And appreciate the fact that they cheer when a hitter grounds out to second to move the runner along from second to third. Wrigley is all about the party in the bleachers (which is fun in its own right). Fenway is pure baseball.
1. Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.: Sorry Spartans fans, you know this already and are tired of hearing it. But the Rose Bowl is the best football stadium in America. The weather is always nice on New Year's Day. The sun is always shining. The stadium is gorgeous in every sense Ė from the location to the construction. And it helps that your team has clearly accomplished something remarkable to make it that far. The BCS has changed things a little in the last decade, but it somehow hasnít removed the special feeling that a team gets for making it to Pasadena. Every sports fan deserves to see their team play in Pasadena on New Year's Day.
Iíve been really, really lucky in my life to see some of these places. I hope you have the same good fortune. And I hope we all add to our lists as the years go along. Let me know the places youíve hit and still canít wait to hit.