Pirate fans ask me all the time, ďJeff, where are your
favorite places to broadcast games?Ē
Iíve been doing this for 23 years now and Iíve had
the opportunity to work games in the Big Ten, Southern Conference, CAA, the
old Metro, and now, of course, in Conference USA. You can sprinkle in a lot
of games outside those conferences, too.
Letís put the old thinking cap on and go back through the
years to come up with some memorable venues.
Ann Arbor, Michigan. The big house at the University of
Michigan. The first time I broadcast a game in a stadium with more than
100,000 people in attendance. The stadium is somewhat misleading from the
outside because you walk down into it. Itís a circus on game day with the
traffic, but what an atmosphere.
Husky Stadium in Seattle. The home of the University of
Washington. What a beautiful setting. You have the mountains and the Pacific
Ocean. The stadium is nice, too, with that big roof that makes it unique.
The locals told us you have your choice, you can either water ski or snow
ski in the fall. The Pirates played there in 1993.
Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. Thereís something about a
Saturday in the SEC. Itís football country and what a sea of orange. You
canít beat the boats going down the river unloading those Vol fans. Iíve
always liked that Vols sign, too, at the top of the stadium. The Pirates
played there in 1995 before 95,416. The Saturday crowds now are over
Carrier Dome in Syracuse. I love broadcasting games there.
Our booth is located right at the fifty and weíre closer to the field than
any other place we work. The fans are right in front of you and itís always
noisy. You donít have to worry about the weather either. Who could ever
forget October 12, 1991. ECU 23 Syracuse 20.
Orange Bowl in Miami. It reeks of tradition and looks
beautiful on a Saturday night with those palm trees. The press facilities
are old and we walk out on a catwalk to get to the booth which is about the
size of a Volkswagen Beetle. Oct. 19, 1996 it was ECU 31, Miami 6.
The Astrodome in Houston, TX. The eighth wonder of the
world. I really enjoyed working there. The game wasnít bad either. ECU 40
Texas Tech 27. What a first half by the Pirates.
The Superdome New Orleans. Itís a great building even though
itís twenty-seven years old now. I just wish more people would go watch
Tulane play. A big-time facility. We work in a booth that network television
occupies the next day for the Saints.
Ericsson Stadium Charlotte. A beautiful facility and first
class media center. Not a bad seat in the house including our booth. The
Pirates are 2-0 in Charlotte with wins over N.C. State and West Virginia.
Papa Johnís Cardinal Stadium in Louisville. They did it
right. A smaller version of Ericsson Stadium. The press box is super. The
booths are terrific. It sure beats the old stadium Louisville played in for
years. Not a bad seat in the house. Theyíre all red and all chair backs.
Paladin Stadium in Greenville, SC. If youíve never been to
Furmanís campus drop by the next time you are in the neighborhood. Itís an
Ivy League feel and the stadium, which seats 16,000, was new when I worked
there in 1982. Not big but very nice.
Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Oh, yes, one of the old
ďcookie cutter stadiumsĒ of the 60ís. There was a Peach Bowl game played
there you might have heard about. I covered lots of Braves and Falcons games
there, too. I remember the Peach Bowl like it was yesterday and those
incredible 'We believe!' Pirate fans.
Now for some of my favorite basketball locations.
The Pitt in Albuquerque. It looks like the biggest high
school gym youíve ever seen. Bleachers everywhere and you walk down into it.
Great atmosphere, great crowds, truly a social event when the Lobos play.
Roberts Stadium in Evansville, Indiana. Truly a unique place
that seats 12,000. Itís like a football stadium with a roof over it. Great
tradition with the Evansville Purple Aces and their mystique of wearing the
purple robes and sleeves on their jerseys. A walk around the concourse is a
real treat. Youíll find displays of all the great players and teams from the
state of Indiana and a memorial to the players, coaches and officials who
lost their lives in a tragic plane crash.
Freedom Hall in Louisville. A great old building even though
it has bad seats a long way from the floor. It doesnít matter. Even the nose
bleed section is full every time the Cards play.
The Shoemaker Center in Cincinnati. A great college
basketball atmosphere. Not an arena but a place that feels like college
Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham. You know the deal.
Old Jenison Field House in Lansing. The former home of the
Michigan State Spartans. Like Duke, the Broadcast location was at the top of
the arena. Back in the late seventies before computerized stats, you would
receive stats for your broadcast courtesy of a wire that was attached to the
top of the building. The Sports Information crew would print the stats on
paper and insert them into a container that looked like a mailbox and then
push them on this wire all the way across the building where you would
intercept the container, take the stats out and read them on the air. I kid
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky. Truly a great building and
a terrific location downtown with the hotels and shopping. When the Cats
take the floor itís truly an event.
Marriott Center, Provo, Utah. The home of the BYU Cougars. A
beautiful facility that fills to 20,000 plus when the Cougars are going
well. I did a game there during the Danny Ainge regime. Itís a great town
with special people. They really make you feel welcome.
Itís tough to beat some of the smaller buildings with great
atmospheres. Here are some.
Williams Arena-Minges Coliseum. Okay, so Pitino says ďitís
really not an arena but a college gym.Ē Thatís okay. What an atmosphere the
Pirates are developing. As Iíve said before, the architects did a great job.
Itís clean, bright and modern looking. It makes you feel good when you walk
Trask Coliseum, Wilmington. When the Pirates come to town it
The Convo Center, Harrisonburg, Virginia. When the Ďol
lefthander had it going it was one of the loudest places around.
The Thunderdome in Santa Barbara. Home of UCSB and another
Brown County Arena in Green Bay. A drafty old place that had
charm with all those old wood seats. UWGB now has a new arena.
Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Virginia. It really rocked
back in the mid 80ís with 10,000 fans and sellouts the norm. An old place
now with a distinctive style. Like an old airplane hanger.
I could go on and on. Maybe you have your favorites. Let me