Very Quick Trip Recap
Pun City took a trip last week. Saw the entire MAC Tournament and the NEC final. Some random thoughts:
1. How has the MAC fallen so badly? Akron won the tournament but looked thoroughly unimpressive. Pun City predicts a blowout first round loss for them in the NCAAs. Beyond this, UA beat up on Buffalo, the favorite in their title game. This blog remembers when the MAC was a force to be reckoned with, but they have some major strides to make before those days will return.
2. The NEC was a breath of fresh air before the slog that was the MAC semifinals and final. Robert Morris is a fairly small campus that was mostly closed down at 6:00 on a Wednesday. (Pun City assumes they had Spring break in process). In spite of this, their fans (and those of Mount St. Mary's, who made the approximately 4 hour trip) packed the Charles Sewall Center. Despite a high schoolesque arena, scoreboard, concession prices, and offensive output, the game and atmosphere were fantastic. This blog wishes it could see that type of a game all the time.
3. Thumbs up to the season ticket holders that this blog was sitting next to at RMU. They were really cool and welcoming of a visiting Brewers fan. This blog will try and heed their recommendation of visiting PNC Park in Pittsburgh in the near future.
4. Huge thumbs up to the RMU ticket office. Pun City wound up with a 2nd row, chairback seat. Maybe 1/8th of the actual seating structures actually had backs, and this one was the same price as a bleacher. Not to mention that sitting second row was a major bonus for an out of towner that was expecting bleachers at best, standing room only at worst. Pun City probably couldn't have chosen a better seat in an empty arena.
5. Thumbs down to MAC fans in general. Other than the overtime Akron-Toledo game (where Pun City was behind the Toledo bench amongst some UT managers), no one really got into the games other than to be obnoxious (Pun City is talking about you, Akron fans). One Bowling Green fan was halfway friendly to this blog, but for the most part, a lackluster tournament was not improved with lackluster fans.
6. Thumbs down to the economy. This blog got one free shirt and a couple free pens and pencils at the MAC, which was where it was thinking most of the freebies would be purveyed. The NEC chipped in with free towels, but Pun City believes that a more sound economy would have led to greater amounts of branded freebies from a higher number of corporate sponsors.
7. Pun City probably needs to think through its next trip's itinerary more than it did here. Aside from one day with only 2.5 hours of driving, this blog drove at least 5 hours each day. Needless to say, that got old. On a positive note, only one hotel night did keep expenses way down, so this goal was accomplished. Alternately, this blog had very gracious hosts, and Pun City can't thank them enough. If somehow Pun City has the option of cool hosts and maybe about 2 hours driving each day next time, that would be awesome.
8. Thumbs up to the Quicken Loans Arena and surrounding area. Quaker Steak & Lube was a sweet option to have in the arena, and a good "value" for ballpark food on their hotwings. Tower City Mall is an okay mall, but its location upgrades it to good. Being able to access a food court in between sessions was a plus, and kept this blog's food intake more varied than usual. (Well, than usual for trips).
9. Rockne's in Kent, Ohio was a decent spot to stop and eat while watching the Marquette-St. John's game. Service wasn't fantastic, but the huge burger was great, and the large number of televisions tuned to sports was cool. Kent State's campus hid their basketball arena, but their football stadium was good to visit.
10. Congratulations to Western Kentucky and North Dakota State for winning automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. For varying reasons, Pun City is a fan of each of these programs. Good work Saul and Big Red.