I’ve attended the Olympics, played catch on the Field of Dreams in Iowa, watched a game at two-thirds of Major League Baseball ballparks, attended a Premier League match in London and jumped around with 80,000 Wisconites at a University of Wisconsin football game. I love sports travel, and I know many others do, too.
Sports travel has driven many of my decisions through the years, even when it wasn’t my intention. As a high school and college athlete, I often traveled regionally for competition. I was fortunate to have a college coach who wanted to give my European teammates a true American experience. I attended the University of Memphis, and I recall one year returning home from a cross-country meet at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Instead of taking the fastest route home along the interstate, our coach detoured onto the back roads so we could see the countryside. I was irritated at the time; I wanted to get home for that night’s football game. But looking back I now appreciate the opportunity to get off the beaten path, an opportunity provided by sports travel.
Below you’ll find some of my favorite travel destinations.
Our recent weekend stay in Downtown Memphis was centered on attending a Memphis Grizzlies game as part of the third installment of our NBA Road Trip Series. But we discovered so much more than just NBA fun during our 48 hours in Memphis experience. And on the surface, that might seem hard to believe, considering we’re residents of the Memphis area. But staying in a downtown hotel helped us enjoy 48 hours in Memphis like we’ve never done before.
When the Memphis Grizzlies have a home game at FedExForum, fans have high expectations for what they will see. Sure, last year’s Western Conference finalists have set a high bar for their play on the court. But it’s not the play of the team that is on Jason Potter’s mind.
The FedExForum plaza is the center of game-day action with the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum on the grounds, and Gibson Guitar Factory across the street.
The third and final stop in our spring NBA Road Trip brings us to Memphis, the city we call home. We won’t be traveling far to experience a Memphis Grizzlies weekend, but staying a couple of days in Downtown will give us a chance to experience the city like a weekend visitor does. There is so much going on in Downtown Memphis, and when all the museums, shopping, food and fun is mixed with a Memphis Grizzlies home game, it becomes a 48-hour period of giddiness for this family that loves everything about Downtown Memphis.
I’m not sure stats exist about how much fans of certain sports travel to enjoy a weekend at the game. Baseball travel is all too obvious. But why not NBA travel? Proving how fun traveling to an NBA game can be is why we set out on the NBA Road Trip. The latest installment took us to New Orleans where we spent an evening enjoying the New Orleans Pelicans. They might not be in playoff contention this season, but the New Orleans Pelicans do have some exciting young players and a fun arena.
Spending 48 hours in New Orleans can be one of the most challenging or fun travel experiences, depending on your perspective. On one hand, the Crescent City has too much to try to cram into a 48-hour period. But if a visitor adopts the city’s great carefree attitude, well, 48 hours in New Orleans is a special experience, even when traveling as a family.