Have Game? Will Travel!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Because Bad Things Happen to Good People - Rio Grande Valley Dorados

Give me a city and I will find you an event “worth” going to. I cannot promise an event that is significant in sports stature or history, but I can promise you some novel promotions, a night’s worth of entertainment and some tall tale beer stories to tell your friends when you are buying a $7 brew at your next NFL game.

Nicole and I were in South Texas in the Rio Grande Valley – a rural area near the border of Mexico. The best sporting event option in the area was the Rio Grande Valley Dorados AF2 game on Saturday night – only a 20 minute drive from where we were staying.

We drove past the Dodge Arena Saturday afternoon after our site-seeing excursion so I bought a ticket at that time. The reason to do so was not because I thought the game would sell out, but I thought I would arrive so late that the team would stop selling tickets. Generally, a team will close the box office an hour or so after the game starts.

The cheapest ticket they sold was $16 – a little pricey I thought for an AF2 game but I had no better options since minor league games generally do not have scalpers.

I arrived at the game on time – parking was free so that made up for the $16 face value. I took a quick trip around the arena to see if there were any scalpers. There weren’t, so my decision to buy a ticket ahead of time did not make a difference since I was on time.

The Dodge Arena only sits 5,500 people. The arena only has a first level and it is about half the size of the first level of any major arena. During the first quarter, Wide Receiver Anthony Chambers caught a touchdown pass, jumped over the wall and ran halfway up the stands giving the football to a random fan – an unprecedented site in professional sports (and I use professional very loosely in this context). Apparently, the AF2 allows fans to keep the football when it ends up in to stands during play and after a touchdown is scored. It seems that Chambers just took this to the next level.

In the 2nd half, Chambers scored another touchdown, ran over to the Corpus Christi bench and taunted the Sharks. Obviously he immediately received a taunting penalty. I began to wonder whether this guy realized the league he was playing in. I understand being immersed in your own world, but doesn’t this guy realize he is in the 2nd division of the AFL not the NFL.

The Dorados have one of the best promotions I have ever seen. About halfway through the second quarter, the Dorados sacked the Sharks’ quarterback for a safety. As that happened, many of the guys in the stands began marching down the aisles back into the concession areas. I was wondering, “Where is everyone going?” Next, the scoreboard flashed – “Dorado Safety! $1 beer for the next 10 minutes.” I sprinted along with Dorado my friends because I could not pass up the offer. I stood inline and watched the frenzy that ensued. The concessionaires brought out 8-10 ounce plastic cups and began filling up plastic pitchers in order to keep things moving. It was a beer assembly line.

As I brought my two beers back to my seat I noticed I had not seen a mascot at the game. As I continued watching the game, I realized the public address announcer was more of a “vocal” mascot – yelling loud, egging on the fans and even taunting the opposing team. You have to give this guy credit. It is hard to rally a Southern Texas, roughneck type of crowd. If you don’t believe me just consider their kickoff sponsor – Anzaldua Bail Bonds whose tag line is “because bad things happen to good people.”



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