The 10 greatest sports venues

greatest sports

With The Masters starting today, the NCAA championship behind us and the Major League Baseball season just around the corner, lots of people are traveling to see their favorite teams, events, and players this week. Some of the most historic sporting venues in the world are easy to reach and boast loads of history. Here are the ten greatest sports venues and how to reach each one.

Fenway Park (above)
The oldest major league stadium has more character than most. It opened in 1912, and has been packing in fans ever since. The Red Sox have sold out every home game for over 600 games and counting – a major league record. Fenway is a legendary place that every sports fan needs to visit at least once. And since they have won two World Series in the last decade, I do not even need to mention the pesky curse.

Getting there and tickets: Located in Boston, Fenway Park is right off the Mass Turnpike in the heart of the city. Take the green line on the T to Kenmore station to reach the ballpark. Tickets can be purchased here. Since games are always sold out, it is easy to just pick scalp your tickets or grab a pair off of craigslist, ebay, or stubhub.

greatest sports

Lambeau Field
Opened in 1957 as City Stadium, the home of the Green Bay Packers was renamed after Curly Lambeau in 1965. The Super Bowl Champion Packers have one of the most loyal fan bases of all NFL franchises, and season tickets have been sold out since 1960. The stadium is a classic in football design, and Green Bay is one of the smallest markets to host a professional sports team.

Getting there and tickets: Fly into Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Home game tickets for the Super Bowl champion Packers are hard to come by. There is currently 86,000 individuals on the Green Bay Packers season tickets waiting list. The best bet for a coveted spot at Lambeau is though stubhub.com.


greatest sports

Old Trafford
The home of Manchester United was built in 1910. Known colloquially as the “theatre of dreams,” the famed football stadium houses the most successful club in English football history. Man U is one of the most, if not the most, popular sporting franchise in the world. From the far flung islands of Indonesia to rural villages in Russia, the Man U brand is a recurring staple.

Getting there and tickets: Old Trafford is located in Machester, England which can be reached by plane or train. From London, Virgin Trains can get you to Manchester quick for about 23.50 GBP. Tickets are fairly easy to come by for routine matches, though exceptional match-ups and Champions League games may require purchase on the secondary market.

greatest sports

Wrigley Field
The home of the Chicago Cubs since 1916, this den of futility has never seen a world series victory. In 1916, President Taft’s epically mustachioed son sold the team and the new owners moved to the location known today as Wrigley Field. With their last world series victory in 1908, they possess the longest championship drought in major league baseball. Perhaps, 2011 will be the year. This old field is famous for its ivy draped outfield walls and old-school hand-turned scoreboard.

Getting there and tickets: Located in Chicago, take the L train to the red line stop of Addison just a block from Wrigley. Tickets can be purchased here.

greatest sports

Wimbledon
Wimbledon houses one of the four tennis Grand Slam events, The Chamionships, Wimbledon. It is widely considered to be the most prestigious of all tennis tournaments. Since 1877, royalty and commoners have piled into the small court at the All England Club to watch the best ladies and gentlemen of the tennis world trade swings. With a strict dress code and a tradition of strawberries and cream consumption, it is a very high brow affair. While Wimbledon has roughly 20 courts, the two most storied are Centre Court and No. 1 Court.

Getting there and tickets: The tournament begins each year on the first Monday falling between June 20 and 26. For tickets, you must apply by public ballot or marry into royalty. To get there, fly to London and take the tube to Wimbledon or Southfields on the District Line.

greatest sports

Masters at Augusta
The Masters at Augusta in Georgia is the pinnacle of professional golf. The only men’s major to take place at the same location each year, The Masters has been inviting the best golfers in the world since the tournament began in 1934. The tournament is also extremely rich in tradition. The winner of the tournament is fitted for the “green jacket” and chooses the meal served at the Champions’ Dinner for the following year. The Champions’ dinner is an ultra-exclusive event reserved for past winners of the tournament. After his win in 1997, a twenty-two year old Tiger Woods chose cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, french fries, and milk shakes for the illustrious Champions’ dinner.

Getting there and tickets: The event takes place during the first week of April with the first round beginning on Thursday. Augusta Regional Airport is serviced by Delta, or one can drive from Atlanta or Charlotte to Augusta in under three hours. Since The Masters quit selling tickets to the public in 1972, it has become one of the most difficult sporting events to attend. Ticket brokers do sell tickets, and prices range from $1,500 to north of $10,000. Ticket Scalping is legal in Georgia (outside of 1500 feet from the venue), so you can also show up and hope for the best. Practice tickets are available to the general public.

greatest sports

Madison Square Garden
MSG is home to the New York Knicks basketball team and the New York Rangers hockey team. The earliest incarnation of Madison Square opened in 1879 and played host to boxing matches and an exhibition of Jumbo the elephant – whose name and popularity linguistically gave birth to the term jumbo. Three versions later, MSG opened the doors to its current form in 1968. It is the third busiest arena in the world in terms of ticket sales. Some significant events in Madison Square history include “The Fight of the Century” with Ali versus Frazier as well as Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to JFK.

Getting there and tickets: Madison Square Garden is located in Manhattan at 8th Ave and 33rd St. Tickets can be purchased here.

greatest sports

Cameron Indoor
In the land of college hoops, Cameron Indoor is the church of basketball under the ministry of Coach Krzyzewski. Built over 70 years ago, it is a humble structure with an occupancy of less than 10,000. What it lacks for in size it makes up for in energy. The Cameron Crazies, students that sometimes paint their entire bodies blue, have made this one of the loudest stadiums in the world with a recorded decibel level of 121.3 – louder than a jackhammer. The Duke Blue Devils that call Cameron home have won four national championships and have made the Final Four a total of fifteen times.

Getting there and tickets: Fly or drive to Duke campus in Durham, North Carolina. Tickets can be bought on stubhub. Undergraduate students camp out in Krzyzewskiville for tickets – a temporary squatter settlement of tents near Cameron.

greatest sports

St. Andrews
The oldest golf course in the world is the old course at St. Andrews in Scotland. According to the mainstream, the Scots invented the game of golf. The earliest records of golf is a law put forth by James II decreeing that all playing of the sport in Scotland be halted in 1457. He felt it interfered with archery practice. Today the course is one of several locations used for the British Open – most recently used in 2010 for the men’s tournament.

Getting there and tickets: The nearest airport is Edinburgh, which can be reached by several European discount carriers. London to Edinburgh on easyjet costs about 25 GBP. From Edinburgh, car or bus is the best option. For rail travelers, one can reach St. Andrews by taking the train from London to Edinburgh and then from Edinburgh to Leuchars about 10km from St. Andrews.

Churchill Downs
Located in Louisville, Kentucky, Churchill Downs hosts the annual Kentucky Derby. The event has come to personify an embodiment of the South that includes Mint Juleps and gigantic hats. Churchill Downs has hosted the race since 1875, making it one of America’s oldest sporting traditions. Speaking of tradition, a strange one has emerged in the hard partying infield of the Churchill Downs – porta potty running. Brave entrants run the length of a row of portable toilets while other spectators heave various projectiles at them (above).

Getting there and tickets: Louisville is serviced by many airlines and tickets to the Kentucky Derby can be purchased here. For 2011, the Kentucky Derby takes place on May 7. Regular races run from Thursday to Sunday from late April to early July.

Four ways to golf the British Open this summer


The 150th British Open runs from July 11 – 18, 2010, and you could put yourself in the middle of the action. Though you may not be able to hit the links at St. Andrews, Scotland with the top dogs of golf, PerryGolf has put together some seven-day packages that could set you up to soak in the work of the greats. And, while you’re over in Scotland, you’ll have a chance to see what else the country offers.

Don’t worry; you’ll have a chance to get in a few holes, too.

1. Fairmont St. Andrews Package
The main event, of course, is the four rounds of golf at various courses in the area (including greens fees). But, there’s more to Scotland than tee-off time. The deal includes two dinner within the hotel, a pair of 60-minute massage treatments, perfect for unwinding after chasing that little white ball all day, and Ground Series Tickets to the Open Golf Championship, which includes all practice and tournament days. Prices start at $7,350 per golfer and $4,340 per non-duffer.2. Fairmont St Andrews and Turnberry Resort Package
You can save some cash (and drink a bit more at the 19th hole) with this package, which includes five rounds of golf, ground transportation and accommodations at the Fairmont St. Andrews and Turnberry Resort. The price tag begins at $5,995 per golfer and $4,535 for those who don’t swing.

3. The Highlands & Gleneagles Package
You’ll stay at the Golf View Hotel and Gleneageles Hotel, with dinner at Gleneagles at Deseo or the Strathern Restaurant. You’ll also score four rounds of golf and pick up ground transportation for your $4,885 ($3,835 for non-golfers).

4. Do It Yourself
Refine your game, score a couple of sponsors and qualify. How hard can it be?

Celebrate St. Andrews Day in Scotland

St. Andrews Day is on November 30, and the festivities surrounding Scotland’s national holiday are due to start on November 26. For travelers with Scottish ancestry – or those looking to hide from relatives over the Thanksgiving holiday – it might not be a bad idea to head out to Scotland for a few days. Even though there isn’t much time left to book, give yourself the thrill of picking up and dashing off on short notice.

This year, the St. Andrews Day celebrations are the grand finale of Scotland’s Homecoming year, so expect plenty to be happening. There will be a music extravaganza, Edinburgh’s Christmas and Illuminated Art Car Parade (the official opening) and free previews of Burns Cottage.

If you travel to Scotland through December 12, you can take advantage of an amazing deal. For only $1,136, you can pick up airfare from Newark to Glasgow on Continental Airlines, six nights at one of 320 Scottish bed and breakfast properties, a full breakfast every day and six days of rental car use with unlimited mileage. All Value-Added Tax and service charges are included!

There’s an added perk for anyone named Andrew or Andrea. You’ll have a chance to win a five-night trip to Scotland (including stays in Edinburgh). Answer one question correctly, and you’ll have a shot at a trip to the land of Andrew.

Los Cabos becomes golf hotspot, per Golf Digest

Naples, Florida. Bethpage Black. Pebble Beach. St. Andrews. These are the sorts of places that come to mind when you think “top spot for golf.” But, Los Cabos? Mexico? Prepare to have your illusions shattered: Fiesta Americana Grand Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort – a destination whose name you just can’t say quickly – picked up the #9 spot on Golf Digest’s world hotspots for golf (if you can actually call a place known for golf a “hotspot”).

The golf course and resort with the long name pushed into the top 10 in the magazine’s “50 Best International Golf Hotels Outside of the United States” category. The win was helped by The Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol, designed by Jack Nicklaus (or at least under his name) and ranked #1 in Latin American. The other attraction, The Desert Course at Cabo Del Sol takes #5 in Mexico, also according to Golf Digest.

Alberto Gurrola, general manager of The Fiesta Americana Grand Los Cabos Golf & Spa, is understandably psyched about the Golf Digest honors, saying, “The Fiesta Americana Grand Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort has long attracted guests for its spectacular, idyllic background, where the desert meets the sea as well as its soothing SOMMA WineSPA and, of course, its world-renowned golf offerings.”

Now, I’m not going to say that the spa is a great place to drop the wife when you dash off to play 18 holes, lest I invoke the ire of a commenter yet again. Simply, if I were married to a golfer, I’d run off to the spa while she goes out to chase a little white ball.

A&K and Fairmont Earth Hour ideas will have tangible results

Earth Hour is on Saturday, March 28 at 8:30 PM. The hospitality and travel industry seems to have embraced this commitment to environmentalism. There are plenty of noteworthy initiatives out there intended to show support for a planet that could probably use our help. Of course, some are more interesting than others. I’m pretty interested in what’s going on at Abercrombie & Kent and Fairmont.

Upscale travel firm A&K is taking action at each of its 62 offices around the world. Outdoor signs will be turned off, and only emergency lighting will be used indoors. This will save 620 light-hours of electricity. And, they’re going to shut off the air conditioning for 90 minutes before the end of the work day, lowering power consumption for this period by 18 percent.

The company is also turning its corporate social responsibility gaze outward. Sanctuary Camps & Lodges are going to host stargazing parties, thanks to the dark skies. They are also planning to turn off generators and cut power consumption by 50 percent for Earth Hour (at 13 properties in Africa).

A&K’s Sun Boat III and Sun Boat IV will turn off their generators, as well, operating only with emergency lighting. Guests will be able to enjoy the bright stars – because of the desert air – in Upper Egypt. Eclipse in the Galapagos will host a presentation on the Sun Deck and reduce the use of power by 30 percent.And, the company hopes that Earth Hour goodwill is contagious. Employees have pledged to save 2,960 light-hours, and A&K’s suppliers, including restaurants and hotels, have been encouraged to support Earth Hour, with hundreds agreeing to do so.

I’m also pretty impressed with what Fairmont is doing for Earth Hour (which you can track via Twitter). This company’s made it a habit to stay out in front of the market when it comes to corporate social responsibility, and it’s ready to play from Dallas to Dubai – at all 56 properties. In addition to its usual environmentally sound initiatives, some Fairmont properties are taking specific, unique action.

At the Fairmont St. Andrews, guests can choose at check-in the power they want to use: nuclear, solar or wind. They’ll also receive compact fluorescent light bulbs. But, this is just the beginning. If you decide to sweat it out in the gym’s spin class, the energy you create will be converted to kilowatt hours to show just how much power you produce. The class is sponsored to provide a cash donation to the World Wildlife Fund. Kids will be able to plant their own saplings. The initiatives at the St. Andrews property are designed to have lasting results.

In Alberta, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise will light up its side of the lake with ice luminaries. Guests will be invited to gather around a fire and enjoy some old-fashioned storytelling under the stars. This hotel is committed to Earth Hour year-round, with 50 percent of its power coming from a mix of wind and run-of-river electricity generation.

Over in Kenya, at the Fairmont Mara Safari Club, the lantern-lit Boma will be a place for guests to gather and listen to a local naturalist discuss conservation and the environment – the “Maasai” way. It won’t be just lectures, though, as Maasai dancers will provide entertainment.

The Fairmont Zanzibar, Tanzania will celebrate Earth Hour for the entire day. Guests will be invited to sail on historical dhows on clear Indian Ocean waters. Chef Ric and his team will use charcoal grills to prepare seafood on the beach, delighting palates without disrupting the environment.

Are you doing anything for Earth Hour? Let me know at tom.johansmeyer [at] weblogsinc.com or http://twitter.com/tjohansmeyer.