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'Painting 'em Purple'
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From the Booth
Monday, November 11, 2002
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By Jeff Charles
Voice of the Pirates

Special places: Venues dear to a broadcaster's heart

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Listen to FROM THE BOOTH with Jeff Charles live on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. on WCZI 98.3 FM, or play the audio archive the next day on Bonesville Internet Radio.
 

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©2002 Bonesville.net

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 100,000.

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 basketball.

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 you not.

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 in.

Trask Coliseum, Wilmington. When the Pirates come to town it really rocks.

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 rowdy place.

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 know.

Till next time, ďkeep paintingíem purple.Ē

Send an e-mail message to Jeff Charles.

Dig into Jeff Charles' Bonesville Archives.

02/23/2007 10:23:55 AM
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