Since I can’t let Kevin Bartl have the entire spotlight in #Condorstown (though he’s rightfully earned it), I’ve decided that I too need to write a weekly blog. I want it to be a place to vent every week or share thoughts on things that are going on around the office and sports world. Most of all, I want it to be interactive – a way to engage you in discussion and keep you somewhat entertained until the team gets back into town. (Remember we still work during the summer in the office, so come say hello!)
Part of my job, and a good chunk of my off season duties is community relations. This includes everything from scheduling appearances with the mascots, attending school events, and bringing players to charitable causes. I love doing it, because being far away from home (I’ll let you look up how many miles it is to Weymouth, Mass.) it gives me the chance to see Condorstown, meet people, and get a feel for the “West Coast.”
On a recent appearance at Stone Creek Junior High students asked me what the best part of my job is and the answer was easy: the travel. Getting to go around the country, do what I love to do, and get paid to do it? That’s a no-brainer. It even made the 21-hour bus rides from Corpus Christi, Texas to Topeka, Kansas bearable two seasons ago.
But the question got me thinking about the seven new cities I got the chance to spend some time in this year on the road and figured that I might as well rank them. I know that many of you have visited these cities, so sound off and tweet to me (@BroadcastHolt) with what you think of the list.
Without further ado, here are the top ECHL Western Conference cities in order:
- Ft. Collins/Loveland, Colo. (Colorado Eagles) – If you’re looking for a good road trip next season, I suggest you make this one. Place is flat out awesome. Aside from the fact that the team hotel is 20 min. away from the rink, Ft. Collins is a college town that has everything that you could be looking for, other than say a beach. Most of what we do on the road revolves around restaurants and the area has some great ones including Panino’s (Italian) and Suh (Sushi) right across from the hotel. The scenery is great with the mountains surrounding the area and the place just screams hockey. Add into the fact that they fill their arena, and you have a great road trip destination.
- Anchorage, AK (Alaska Aces) – Never in my life would I ever think I would step foot in Alaska. It’s an ALL DAY flight even from Bakersfield. But, once you get up there (we take a bus to LAX and then make a pit stop in Seattle), you’ll be amazed at what you find. The downtown is great if you can navigate through the snow banks and you’re right on the water, which can make walking around at night pretty windy. But, one of the best memories of the road was back in the first week of November, after Matt Keetley and the team shutout the Aces, we had a big dinner the next night at the Glacier Brewhouse where we ate like kings. Anchorage is just a fun spot to be and the people are friendly. There’s just not a lot of sunlight!
- Boise, ID (Idaho Steelheads) – Listen, Boise would have been number one on my list. It’s fantastic. I can remember walking around on a Saturday afternoon, sun shining, everyone outside at the many downtown restaurants with outdoor seating, and it just feeling like a great spot to be. But, I can’t put it number one. Coaches O’Dette, Barrett, and I made a return trip to this place called Flatbread, probably because the tomato basil soup was the best thing I had eaten on any road trip. But, we got there, they seated us, and we sat for 15 minutes without anyone coming over to wait on us. We got up and left. It’s stuck with me ever since. Shame on you, Boise.
- West Valley City, Utah (Utah Grizzlies) – When you go to a place as often as we went to Utah this year (13 nights) you begin to get an appreciation for the place. It’s where we spent New Year’s Eve and a place where we had a lot of success on the ice. We only ventured to Salt Lake City once, but much like Colorado, the atmosphere and scenery are great. But, my enjoyment of Utah is the rink, with the history of having held an Olympic hockey final in 2002. (Great game, watch the highlights here) … For that alone, you can get the #4 spot on my list.
- Las Vegas, Nev. (Las Vegas Wranglers) – Now you’re thinking “Woah, Holty, you’ve lost it, I’m not reading any more of this garbage,” but hear me out. Vegas is a great place, no doubt. But it’s not the kind of place that you need to go to over and over during the course of a season. Once is great. Twice is alright. But by the fourth trip you’ve had enough of your suits smelling like cigarette smoke from having to walk through the casino to get to the rink.
- Ontario, Calif. (Ontario Reign) – I called my very first ECHL game in this building, but even on that day, I said to Bartl that something didn’t sit right with this place for me. We only really made day trips, aside from New Year’s Day where we spent a night, so most of the distaste for the place comes from the rink. It’s not that it’s hostile or anything there. But, there are roughly 3 million orange cones that have to be moved before our bus can enter (Sammy the bus driver knocked over most of them), the traffic is terrible, and we didn’t have much success there this year despite opening the season with a win. I’m sure it’s a nice place, it’s just not “LA” like I had thought before moving out to the West Coast.
- Stockton, Calif. (Stockton Thunder) – This comes as no surprise. Upon arriving in Condorstown, two things were clear to me. Bakersfield had the best fans and under no circumstances was I to like anything about Stockton. The latter wasn’t hard. Safe to say, Bakersfield owns the Central Valley compared to Stockton. Include the fact that the host hotel is closer to Rabobank Arena than Stockton Arena and it’s just not a fun place to be. Except of course when we’re winning there, which we did more often than not this season.
I hope you enjoyed round one of the blog. Have an idea or topic you’d like me to write about? Tweet me (@BroadcastHolt) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Until next Thursday #Condorstown…
Ryan Holt is the Manager of Media Relations and Broadcasting with the Condors and just completed his first season in Condorstown. He loves every minute of it.