Every few weeks, the contributors to The Writers, as well as some special guests, will submit a Top 5
list on a given topic.
Top 5 Sports Venues I Have Been To
Special Guests: Brian Baldinger (FOX Sports), Chris Botta (New York Islanders),
Clay Luraschi (Topps), Norman MacLean (Sports Press Service), Don Williams
1. Madison Square Garden
2. Cameron Indoor Stadium
3. RFK Stadium (Washington, DC)
4. Three Rivers Stadium
5. Franklin Field (Philadelphia)
1. Chicago Stadium - It didn't get any better. This now demolished edifice in an awful part of Chicago
had the true feel of a sports arena. The construction of the building, small is it might be, held the
sound in and actually made it louder than it was. Combine that with the fact that it housed the world's
largest pipe organ that shook the place when Al Melgard (and later Nancy Faust) played it. The
atmosphere was a true Home Court Advantage for the Black Hawks although it didn't help them in the
7th game of the 1971 Finals when The Canadiens came back from a 2-0 deficit to score 3 in a row
and win their 17th Stanley Cup, and it didn't help then in the last NHL game ever played there when
the Toronto Maple Leafs shut them out 1-0 in a Playoff game. When the building was destroyed for a
parking lot the motto "Remember The Noise" was sounded often. Unfortunately, not loud enough.
2. The Montreal Forum - If you grew up when I did,
watching hockey games televised from The Forum made
it look like a magic place. It was the home of the
Canadiens, perennial Stanley Cup Champions. The
place where Beliveau, Geoffreon, Cornoyer and the
Flying Frenchmen were virtually unbeatable. It was the
building that Roger Doucette's rounded tonal voice filled
with his renditions of both "The Star Spangled Banner"
and "Oh Canada". And Claude Mouton's Announcements
(first in French, then in English) were so classy. I
covered my first game there in the 1979 Stanley Cup Finals, and I remember going in through the
press entrance on the corner of Atwater and Boulevard de Maisonneuve (the famous St. Catherine
Street was on the other side of the building). Once inside, you walked about 10 yards through a small
tunnel and Voila, there it was. The home of the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. The facility was old, but clean,
but in its empty state (I was there for a pregame skate), it didn't look so special. When I came back
for the game a day later, the place had transformed into the same magical place I saw on TV. I can
still remember the game as if it were yesterday, and the atmosphere that stayed with me every other
time I was there. It was a sad day when The Canadiens abandoned The Forum. And they haven't
won a Stanley Cup since they left it.
3. Ebbets Field - I saw my first-ever sporting event there in 19XX (I am already admitting my age
decade--I don't have to make myself any older). Growing up a Brooklyn Dodger fan (it was that or find
new parents), we lived in Queens and followed the Bums on Channel 9. One day my dad announced
that tomorrow he and I were going to see the Doubleheader with the Cubs (only those over 40
remember SCHEDULED SUNDAY doubleheaders). We got to the house on Bedford Ave in the 2nd
inning and as we walked into the building, I had hoped we'd be going upstairs (I did not want to sit
down low). To my elation we went up a ramp and came out behind first base. We moved into a seat
right behind a red painted rail. For the better part of the next 5 hours I sat transfixed, at first waiting for
Vince Scully (I am not sure if it was he or Red Barber) to describe the play. But none came, watching
for myself, asking my dad about balls and strikes and watching the game was the living end for me.
What a day it was. Furillo homered, Robinson homered, I think Campy got one too. The only
disappointment was that my idol The Duke, did not hit one out. That was not until the 8th inning of the
nightcap. When he hit one over the fence on to Bedford Ave, I went wild. What a great day for a 6 year
old. And to cap it off, The Dodgers won both games 5-3. I have been to many sports events since
that day. Some I remember better than others, none better than that.
4. Montjuic Stadium, Barcelona, Spain - Remember the days of "The World League of American
Football", the precursor to NFL Europe? I worked for them and my job was to make each facility ready
for football and American Radio Broadcasting. While several US based teams had their own
problems, the European teams presented the biggest challenge. Part of my job was to attend the
first game played in each European Stadium. The venue in this Barcelona Stadium as in most of
Europe was more known for a different type of football (as in soccer). This was a uniquely designed
stadium with perfect sight lines for American Football. But they had a few quirks. On the top of the
facility there were these little structures. They looked like Luxury Boxes. They turned out to be Toilets,
giving a new meaning to the phrase "not missing a moment". There was no Press Box, There was
no Radio Booth. We were all out there, covered only by the upper deck, sitting in the cold, with a dank
rain falling and 50,000 fans looking on. It was fascinating watching Spanish fans looking at American
Football and cheering at the right time. A year later the 1992 Olympics Opening and Closing were
5. Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff, Wales - I produced a fight between Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno there
for a radio network in 1992. The ring was set up in the middle of a Rugby Field, and only the ring was
covered. The fight was to start at 1:25 AM so it could be seen in Prime time in the USA. Came the day
of the fight and came a daylong cold dank rain. Since we were broadcasting in the wide open, as
were several other European Radio and Television networks, the promoters immediately brought
every plastic garbage bag in town to cover equipment on field wiring and themselves. As the crowd
filtered in to the park, the rain got heavier and worse was expected later that evening. HBO tried to
move the fight up to 1:00 AM but nobody told the Doctor at Ringside who under European rules had to
actually be at Ringside. He didn't show up until the appointed time of 1:25 (at least he kept a
schedule unlike other doctors). As it turned out the fight was supposed to be over quickly but went 8
rounds. Many of the broadcasts in our row lost power during the show, mine was one that did not.,
but the major rain held off. While I had seen fights in outdoor facilities, the location and atmosphere
as well as the urgency of beating the weather made this one special. And as an epilogue,
immediately after the fight we left for Heathrow Airport where I made a 7:00 AM flight back to the US. I
was home by 9:30 that morning and my wife and I went to a local diner for breakfast (my third, her first
breakfast, that is). The waiter came up to us and was shocked to see me there, since he knew I was
at the fight.
Baseball--Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, SBC Park
Football—Arrowhead (KC), Lambeau Field
College Hoops--Allen Field House (Lawrence, Kan.), McHale Center (Tucson, AZ)
1. Yankee Stadium -- To me, it's home.
2. Wimbledon -- The final place on this sporting earth where time continues to stand still.
3. Montreal Forum -- They should have found a way to upgrade it without tearing it completely down.
4. Chicago Stadium -- Two-sport greatness: any time the Black Hawks or Michael played.
5. Fenway Park -- You're packed in like sardines, and starving and wetting yourself are often better
options than leaving your seat for the concourse. Yet no one ever complains. Bravo to the Red Sox for
doing what the Canadiens should have.
Most Overrated: Madison Square Garden: Bad sightlines, 3 championships in more than 50 years, a
few good title fights. Why exactly is this the World's Most Famous Arena?
1. Roland Garros - The red clay isn't really red - it's more like the color of a shiny, new penny. But you
can buy a pain au chocolat at the concession stands, stroll easily from one match to the other, eyeball
every leggy French woman that walks by, and afterward have escargot and the best pastry you'll ever
find. Heck, you're in Paris.
2. Wrigley Field - As long as it's in the daytime, and the ivy has spouted on the outfield walls.
3. Wimbledon - The stadium court is tennis' cathedral, but you can get a better view on the cramped
outer courts, where top players are almost in your lap. When I was there, you could hear Chris Evert
swear under her breath.
4. Montreal Forum - The small ice surface, Guy Lafleur racing down right wing, his hair flowing behind
him like a vapor trail, and Roger Doucet singing "O Canada."
5. Los Angeles Coliseum, opening of the 1980 Summer Olympics - When they did that trick--having
everyone in the crowd turn over a placard to form the flags of every competing nation--I had tears in
my eyes, although I told everyone it was allergies.
1. Boston Garden - worked the 1984 playoffs from the broadcast booth hanging over the ice. What a
2. The Forum [Montreal, not LA] - when I walked into that place for the first time [in 1983], I got a rise
that I haven't gotten anywhere else.
3. The Bob [Phoenix] - was just there in April. Great sight lines, perfect climate, reasonable
concession prices. It's clean, too.
4. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Rink [North Adams, MA] - broadcast several games there while in
college --unfortunately North Adams [now the Mass College for Liberal Arts] no longer has a team. It
was just a municipal rink, but we broadcast from a catbird's seat at center ice -- and the North Adams
fans absolutely hated us [and didn't hide it]. It was wild. Went for a skate there for my son Evan's fifth
birthday earlier this year.
5. Nassau Coliseum - I've seen more games there than probably every other building combined. We
all know about the Coliseum's faults -- but it carries with it my childhood. The view from the TV booth
is terrific -- Howie Rose and I have discussed this many times -- whatever you do with the building,
don't mess with our view.
1. The Tokyo Giants at the Tokyo Dome - 9 straight innings of cheering and chanting. Makes Dodger
stadium look like the library.
2. Gaelic Football at Randall's Island, New York - If you like soccer, but wish it had more body contact,
this is the game to watch.
3. Chelsea Soccer in London England - When you attend an actual top-level soccer match, it's easy to
understand why people are so nuts for the game.
4. North Shore (Hawaii) Surf Competition - What a relaxing way to watch a sporting event.
5. Super Bowl XXXVIII, Houston, Texas - Most exciting football game I've ever seen in person.
1. The Polo Grounds, Manhattan, N.Y. - Understand
that I am an unashamed New York Giants person -
most of my youth was spent in the Polo Grounds,
either watching or vending, before switching to
In its earlier days its 55,000 plus seat capacity made
it the best in Baseball before John McGraw made the
mistake of raising the Yankees rent and forcing them
to build Yankee Stadium in 1923. Its rectangular
shape was unusual to say the least. Center field was
483 feet. Willie Mays catch off Vic Wertz in the 1954
World Series was a home run anywhere else.
The short right field and left field foul lines 257 and 279 made for unusual pitching, trying to force
batters to hit to center field. And it created pop fly home runs like the Dusty Rhodes special that beat
Bob Lemon and the Indians in the World Series in 1954. Of course Bobby Thomson hit his pennant
winning home run in 1951 against the hated Dodgers in the Polo Grounds.
2. The world's most famous stadium - Yankee Stadium, of course. The House that Ruth built is still
the best, and has a mystique and aura about it that sometimes beats superior teams.
3. Madison Square Garden - The World's Most Famous Arena. Horrible sight lines, although the
standing room view from the old side balcony in the 50th street Garden was super. My father was the
Mayor of the 50th Street Balcony, Tim Murphy ran the 49th street side. Willis Reed walking on the court
at game time at the 34th Street MSG, and mentally freezing the Lakers for the 1970 Knicks title was
the biggest event, although the Rangers seventh game win in 1994 is close.
4. The Montreal Forum - Rocket Richard, Jean Beliveau, Doug Harvey, Jacques Plante, the
Canadiens sont la.
5. SBC Park in San Francisco - With the boasts chasing Barry Bonds home runs in Willie McCovey
1. Montreal Forum – The first time I ever stepped foot into this hallowed building was on an off day –
the day before Game One of the 1993 Conference Finals while I was with the Islanders. From the
moment I entered the building, I could feel the history all around me. The stories you heard about the
ghosts of the Forum were true – you really could feel their presence. And then, once you got past all
the history, the nuances of the building were even more special…the press room off a staircase, with
the greatest hot dogs ever; the incredibly small visitors dressing room with the sliding metal door that
was basically part of the concourse (the fans literally walked passed the room during intermissions,
but never caused any problems); the lack of glass behind the home bench, leading to one of the most
famous arguments in Canadiens history, leading to Patrick Roy getting traded out of Montreal. They
refuse to make buildings like this anymore, but buildings like this are the cornerstone for all of sports
today. Long live the Forum!
2. Beach Volleyball Venue, Athens Olympics – Part sports, part party. Not only were the athletes
dressed for a day at the beach (especially the women in skimpy bathing suits), but the fans were
ready for a day of fun. Throw in the party music, the dancing girls, fans dressed in native colors or as
superheroes and you’ve got one of the most fun sporting experiences ever. Oh yeah. There were also
Olympic medals at stake. There were plenty of great venues in Athens – the Basketball Arena at
OAKA, the Weightlifting Hall, the Baseball Stadium, the Olympic Stadium for the Closing Ceremonies
– but the Beach Volleyball venue was the best of all of them.
3. Yankee Stadium – The baseball equivalent of The Forum.
I’m writing this after spending the afternoon at the Stadium
on Old Timer’s Day – one of the greatest traditions in all of
sports. The memories that have occurred in the building
and heroes that have called the Stadium home are beyond
numbers. You can feel it all the moment you enter this
classic sanctuary in the middle of the Bronx. As for the new
Stadium, due in 2009? We know it is going to be gorgeous.
Let’s just hope they can move the memories across the
4. Lambeau Field – A sports experience like no other. A
team playing in a small town in the middle of nowhere…
and sellouts every time. You get to Lambeau on Game Day and it is a giant party. It feels like every
resident of the state of Wisconsin has driven in the Winnebago to Green Bay to see The Pack. It is
recently renovated and expanded, but the charm is still there. The football version of the Forum and
5. Wrigley Field – The ivy. The day games. The bleachers. The apartments across the street. The
seventh inning stretch. The hot dogs. The old scoreboard. The neighborhood bars. I could go on and
on and on. As legendary as Yankee Stadium is, a day game at Wrigley is the ultimate in baseball
Honorable Mention: Boston Garden, Rose Bowl, University of Rochester Basketball Arena, Soldier
Field (before renovations), Dodger Stadium.
1. US Open at Bethpage Black - The crowds that lined the fairways were incredible. And watching the
top golfers play the same course where I have tee it up was a thrill.
2. A baseball game at Dodger Stadium - Chavez Ravine was cool because, if i remember correctly
you can park your car and walk into the upper level.
3. Nassau Coliseum - Stanley Cup first round against Toronto as the Islanders played in the playoffs
for the first time in nearly a decade.
4. Super Bowl 35 in Tampa - Watching the neighbors around the Stadium in Tampa turn their front
lawns in to parking lots. And getting lost trying to find the press room under the stadium and standing
about 10 feet from Brittany Spears before she went on for halftime (talk about a lack of security).
5. World Cup Soccer at Giants Stadium - Opening Round game between Italy and Ireland won by
1. Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NY
2. Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
3. Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
4. Kezar Stadium, San Francisco, CA
5. Connie Mack Stadium (Shibe Park), Philadelphia, PA
1. Commonwealth Stadium (Edmonton, AB) for a hockey game - To watch a hockey game at 0-
degrees temperature with over 50,000 people at a football stadium was pretty amazing. Montreal and
Edmonton skating outside with Montreal goaltender Jose Theodore wearing a ski hat on top of his
helmet was a sight I will probably never forget. I remember standing along the boards and looking up
and thinking, "Now THIS is cool!!"
2. Fenway Park (Boston, MA) for a Red Sox game - Just so cozy, and frightening I might add.
3. The Big House, Michigan Stadium (Ann Arbor, MI) for a University of Michigan football game - It is
really amazing to be with over 100,000 screaming Big Blue fans.
4. Camp Randall Stadium (Madison, WI) for a University of Wisconsin football game - It has been
documented by some magazines that this stadium maybe one of best atmospheres to watch a
football game. I don't think there is a moment where something is not going on in the stands...from
"Jump Around" to the many different versions of the "wave." While I am a true Blue fan, it was an
amazing experience and would recommend it to anyone.
5. Maple Leaf Gardens (Toronto, ON) for a practice - I did not have the wonderful experience to watch
a game at this famous arena, but did witness practices during the 2000 All Star Weekend. Was a
pretty amazing place and can only imagine what it would have been like to see a game there.
1. The Rose Bowl
2. Madison Square Garden (hockey) for a Stanley Cup Finals game
3. Fenway Park
4. Oriole Park at Camden Yards
5. Pac Bell Park (played softball on the field watching World Series on big screen)
1. Safeco Field - 2001 All-Star Game Festivities
2. Petco Park - San Diego, CA
3. Jacob's Field - Cleveland, OH
4. Raymond James Field - Tampa Bay, FL during 2001 Super Bowl XXXV (NY Giants vs. Baltimore
5. The Kingdome watching the Seattle Sounders take on the NY Cosmos sometime during the early