Monday, January 30, 2012

Traveling to the Lone Stars State!

Party rocking in the house!

So I made another little trip south to Dallas Texas, to see the Stars against the Colorado Avalanche.

This time, the typical weather cooperated with my voyage, and it was very pleasant, as opposed to the bitterly cold and snowy (6+ inches the night before I left) weather in Chicago.  I feel this is a good time to proclaim my love of the CTA in Chicago.  The fact that I can easily get to either airport, or most anywhere else without a car is something I've taken for granted, and Dallas' "rail" system is an adorable joke (basically 3 lines, and no rail service to anywhere near the airport).  I just wanted to hug it when it came by.  Another interesting factoid is that, while I paid for the 1 day pass at the station, I was never ticketed, I could have ridden for free without any real penalty (according to my Dad, it's the same in Houston).  However, there was a station very close to the American Airlines Center, which is what was important to me.

Here's the Hanger
I've decided to name the arena "The Hangar" because it looks like one.  Look at it.
Also it was quite a beautiful day
Even the inside looks like it was built for 747s and not sports.
I admit, I've never been in a hangar, but this is what I imagine it would look like
Everything about the facility was amazing.  It had ample seating and parking, no obstructed views, the seats were lush, and (my personal favorite) bottomless souvenir cups.  I admit I'm kind of a dork, but I like to get the souvenir cups at the various arenas I go to.  So far, only 3 venues haven't had souvenir cups, the United Center, Nassau, and the Winter Classic (probably the most perplexing, given that the NHL slapped the WC logo on everything else).
Another hangar-ey picture 
But I digress, the arena was awesome, pretty much perfect.  They even had ample bathrooms (something I didn't think I'd have to mention before MSG) with creepy mirrors that showed an ad before you walked up to them (the future of advertising? probably).  As an arena, the AAC ranks up with the UC in terms of great features.
Going to Target gave me a stark reality.  Texas really is football country.  I mean, I'd heard it was, but it's one of those things that needs to be seen.  The Target in Dallas was literally full of apparel for the Cowboys, the University of Texas, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M.  Mind you, this was after the Cowboys season had ended and college football was over.  There was nary an object in the "fan zone" for the Stars, or even the reigning NBA champion Mavericks.  There were a few Texas Rangers shirts, but that was about it as far as non-football stuff went.  The CVS which was actually downtown (it's weird, I take the DART one stop east and it's like being dropped in the suburbs) had more, with some shot glasses and shirts, so that brought up the Wal-Mart index a bit more (the closest Wal-Mart was well out of the city, so I didn't go).
Admittedly, a lack of enthusiasm is difficult to show in pictures.
So, when I got to the game, it was very interesting.  Admittedly, this was another early game, so I didn't quite expect much.  Still, it was almost deathly quiet, especially in the first period.  Not the tense, everyone's on pins and needles waiting for something to happen, quiet, like there was in Buffalo.  This was the the place is half empty, and a lot of the people here aren't really interested in the first place, kind of quiet.  Yes the attendance and the noise picked up throughout the game, but it's still not a good feeling when you can hear the skates from the 300 section.  
This was soon before the puck dropped, and look at the empty seats.
Yes, I know, the game was definitely a slow starter, but that shouldn't stop people from cheering.  Hell, the fact that it was a close, one goal game pretty much the whole way (except for a few minutes in the third where it was tied) between two teams fighting for a playoff berth in the Western Conference should make it more exciting.  But the game just felt flat.
Here's the aftermath of Dallas' first (and only) goal of the day
Colorado scored in the first, deflating any wind in the sails of the crowd, and it did pick up when Dallas scored in the third to even it up, but it still didn't feel energetic.  Maybe I'm just jaded and hockey-ed out. Of course that isn't true, the junior game I went to a couple weeks later was enormous fun, if you can, do try and come to junior and minor league games, they show what makes hockey great, the fact that a game at any level can still be very entertaining. Hell one of my favorite parts of a pro game is seeing the little kids take the ice during an intermission, sure they aren't great, but it's still fun to watch.  And they need your support, as any hockey parent will tell you, it's an expensive sport to get into, and they can use any support they can get.
I honestly didn't remember that I took a picture of the midget game, not that I'm at all upset about it.
I had another picture, YAY!
Ok, off the soapbox.

Ok, back on the soapbox.  I hate Dallas' new jerseys, they're so bland and pedestrian.  Here's a brief history of the Stars' jersey history. Now, their old jerseys, with an actual logo on them, those were nice, especially because it's such an awesome logo they skate out of it every game.

Like so
But they got rid of that jersey for the most boring thing imaginable.  It's not like they desperately needed to change it, unless they thought people would buy those in droves (about half to two thirds of the people with jerseys on had ones with logos on them, as did I).  The only reason I could imagine the change is that the management is so terrified the team will move that they felt a need to write DALLAS on the front, so everyone knew where they were from.

So, in conclusion, the arena was amazing, the game was great, but there's a sense of indifference, at least in the game.

Time for the big board.  No real unexpected changes, just a blue pin in Dallas and a green one in Denver.  I'm still debating what to do in February, but I've got serious plans for March.

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