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.”


Friday, May 2, 2008

Hidalgo, TX - Dodge Arena

This afternoon, Nicole and I are flying to Harlingen, TX to visit her grandfather (who lives in Mission, TX). Of course, I wanted to see if any sporting events were planned for the weekend in South Texas or Northern Mexico.

San Antonio: At first, I thought to check San Antonio. However, San Antonio is a 252 mile, 4.5 hour drive north. There is not enough time for that kind of drive.

South South Texas: My first step in searching for sporting events in an area is to logon to Ticketmaster.com and search for the city I am traveling to, select “All Sports”, then select the time frame of my trip. The only sporting event that popped up was the Rio Grande Valley Dorados of Arena Football 2. They play in Hidalgo, TX at the Dodge Arena – about a 15-20 minute drive.

Next, I went to http://www.dodgearena.com/ to see if any other events were taking place at the arena. No other events are taking place this weekend, but a few other minor league teams play at the arena during the winter:

1) Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees of the CHL (Minor League Hockey)
2) Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBDL (NBA Development League)

Minor League Baseball: I also logged on to http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/ – searching for games in South Texas or the Mexican League. There are games 2 hours away in Corpus Christi, TX and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

Mexico: The Tigres de Reynosa play across the border in the Primera División 'A' Mexicana but it appears their season ended last weekend. The closest Primera División team is Monterrey who is not home this weekend and another 2 hour drive.

Other Events: There may be some other “crazy” events going on in the area. We’ll find out about those tonight or Saturday when we read the local paper.

So the plan, for now, is to attend the AF2 game on Saturday night. Of course, since Saturday is our main night to visit, the game may not come to fruition, but there is always the possibility of attending a sporting event – even in the most remote location.