Last year, I did a sports travel year in review which was a fun exercise and I figured on doing another one for 2016. In total…. I saw 182 live sporting events in 2016, 9 new NFL stadiums, 9 new NBA stadiums, 6 new D1 FBS NCAA college football stadiums, 4 new NHL stadiums, and 10 MLB stadiums. Also, I attended the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 in Louisville Kentucky, the Round of 64 in St. Louis, the men’s/women’s Big Ten basketball tournament in Indianapolis, the Women’s Final 4 in Indianapolis, and spring training baseball in Montreal. Most importantly… the year in sport was spent with friends and family across North America. So, without further ado…. Here are my top 16 sports events attended in 2016 as inspired by my love for live NCAA tournament games:
#16: Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs 1/23/2016
A great day had in Toronto on this day for a hockey tripleheader. Started the day with a Canadien women’s hockey league all-star game at 1pm. Saw the Toronto Marlies AHL hockey team at 4pm. Ended with this gem at the Air Canada Center. The Leafs had a hall of fame ceremony before the game.
#15: Miami Marlins @ Milwaukee Brewers 4/29/2016
Most baseball games are rather mundane but this one was special. The Brewers turned a triple play in this one and the Marlins had a no hitter going through 8 1/3 innings before the Brewers got their first hit. After their first hit, Milwaukee scored three runs and had the bases loaded in a 6-3 game before Miami closed it out.
#14: NY Red Bulls @ DC United 8/21/2016
This one wasn’t as much fun for the game itself as it was to see RFK Stadium for the first time. Opening in 1961, this stadium played host to multiple MLB teams, the Washington Redskins, and multiple big time events.
#13: Jamaica vs Venezuela
This Gold Cup soccer match was played at Soldier Field. It was neat to see the Gold Cup played in the states and fun to see a game in an epic setting.
#12: Women’s Final 4 - 4/3/2016
This event comes to Indianapolis every five years as does the men’s final four. Unbeaten UCONN steamrolled the competition again this year. In the other semi, Syracuse beat Washington. I didn’t see the final this year due to seeing the Reds opener in Cincy. I did see the 2011 women’s final in Indy.
#11: Milwaukee Brewers vs St Louis Cardinals – 7/2/2016
This one wasn’t so much for the game itself but instead… the company I was with. A friend of mine told me that he had great seats and all you can eat food/drink. He had an extra and the tickets were free for him. As it turns out… it was a second row behind the plate seat in the owner’s seats. Literally. This was a great weekend as I saw 2 Cards games, a Guns and Roses concert in Chicago, and a Yankees-White Sox game on the 4th of July.
#10: Michigan Wolverines vs #10 Indiana - 3/11/2016
Michigan needed this win to get into the NCAA tournament. Indiana had won the big ten regular season title. Michigan hit a three at the buzzer to move onto the semis. I saw every game of the big ten women’s and men’s tournament games this year at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. 26 games total in an 11 day stretch. This one was the best of a very good bunch of games.
#9: Washington Redskins vs New York Giants – 9/25/2016
A great game at a new (to me) NFL venue which was won by the Redskins 29-27 at MetLife Stadium. Bought a $105 face value seat for $40 on the street. Stubhub get in price was $128. Went through heck to get to the game via public transportation. Had to use credits or else they would expire meaning a crazy same day fly in and fly out kind of day.
#8: Indy 500 – 5/29/2016
Biggest single day sporting event in the world at 350,000 or so fans in attendance. An absolutely crazy day. I admit to knowing little about auto racing but this event was for the people watching. As a friend dubbed it: “the great American sh^tshow”.
#7: Kansas City Chiefs vs Houston Texans (Wild Card playoff) – 1/10/2016
Had a fun time with the KC crew and witnessed a KC blowout win vs Houston, 30-0. This one was such a laugher that Chiefs fans had free reign on the lower deck in the 4th quarter. Also, toured the NASA space center before the game including the Mission Control Center (!!).
#6: NFL Hall of Fame Ceremony – 8/6/2016
This was my first time doing something like this and it was a lot of fun. Bret Favre was the big draw here as well as locals… Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy. Had a ticket to the Hall of Fame Game the next night but that one was cancelled due to poor field conditions.
#5: Boston Red Sox vs Toronto Blue Jays (in Montreal) – 4/2/2016
This was a spring training game but the draw was seeing live baseball at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. I had never seen an Expos home game so it was fun to see this place packed for baseball.
#4: Michigan State vs Middle Tennessee State (NCAA Round of 64 action) – 3/18/2016
Went to St. Louis for Fridays action and four tournament games. Two of them were duds and two were classics. Statistically speaking… the fifth biggest upset in NCAA tournament history as the two seeded Spartans lost 90-81.
#3: Villanova-Kansas (NCAA tournament Elite 8) – 3/26/2016
After two boring games in Louisville for the sweet 16…. This one lived up to its billing. Two top five teams faced off in a thrilling game, won by Villanova. The wildcats would go on to win the NCAA title.
#2: Washington-Alabama (NCAA playoff semifinal) – 12/31/2016
Biggest game in stature that I went to this year. An Alabama dominated performance. Very fun event to see and be a part of.
#1: Ballpark Chasers + Stampeder Meetups 7/23/2016 and 8/20/2016
Two baseball games with activities and such. One in Cincinnati and one in Baltimore. Both events had a combined 200 or so fellow sports travel enthusiasts. It was fun meeting people with the same interests.