This blog will chronicle my attempt to visit all 30 NBA Arenas during the 2007-08 season.
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2637 N. Frederick Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53211
Click below on "2007" to view the first 13 arenas.
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Contact info: Drew Cieszynski 2637 N. Frederick Ave. Apt# 106 Milwaukee, WI 53211 / 717.676.9963 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Click below on "2007" to view the first 13 arenas.
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Monday, June 2, 2008
I should also note however that the Dallas Mavericks & Detroit Pistons also guaranteed me spots had they made it, so heartfelt thanks to them as well.
Funny thing is that I had no interest in the LA Lakers when the season started, yet through the scheduling process I saw them more than any other team during my tour. On Tuesday night, I will enter the STAPLES CENTER as a Lakers fan. Typically, when you hear of a Red Sox fan or a Lakers fan, you think of the bandwagon...however isn't my scenario is a bit different? I've grown to enjoy this franchise because despite all of success, Mr. Black had the time to answer my requests in a timely fashion, Mr. Cardona got me the needed materials for my blog without needing a follow-up. Bottom line - a front office that cares for its fans is more important than all else to me.
But look who our opponent is...the Boston Celtics. Wouldn't it be just plain beautiful karma if I were to witness ... part of the Lakers dismantling the Celtics, the only team to not help the NBA Tour? Isn't this the ultimate fairy tale ending for me - the number 1 goal of this tour and my ultimate dream, the NBA FINALS, being in attendance as the Lakers take down the franchise that showed me I was not even worth their email response?
Tonight in an effort to get back on track financially, I signed a lease for a new apartment that will have zero amenities, but hopefully save me over $250 a month - building towards the next "tour."
Check back in July and August as I've going to post a "reflection," which should contain some good insight. I've held back heavily during this blog so that children could go through it and in hopes that I'd be semi-tasteful in case the NBA actually wanted to notice me. Possibly more importantly however, could be my NBA FINALS post.
Now, for the final arena...my new home...The Milwaukee Bucks.
So here it was, April 12 in Milwaukee and surprise, surprise...it was snowing. Now sit back and think about this for a minute. During my travels, coupled with my full time job, my biggest obstacle was the weather. Milwaukee recorded its 2nd-worst winter of all time! Remember I had nine round trip flights and 6 big roadtrips leaving from Milwaukee (Chicago, Minneapolis, Toronto, Cleveland, & Indianapolis all encountering weather problems. Yet outside of a $1,000 accident on my shortest trip, Chicago, I did not get into any fender-benders or have any flight delays/cancellations. Milwaukee's General Mitchell airport had more delays and cancellations than ever before.
This day however, would be easy travels as I only live a few blocks from the Bradley Center. With me for this final game would be Scott Bellmyer as he collaborated on many of my tactics to get this accomplished and more importantly, made my job a lot easier whenever I returned from my trips.
The Bradley Center has one of my favorite locations in all of the league. Within approximately 3 blocks east of the arena is probably over 20 watering holes to stop at before or after the game.
Regardless of which side that you enter the arena, you'll enter through one of the two large atriums where you'll see a variety of activities that range from live bands to local radio talkshows being broadcast live.
Just like every other arena, I had no idea what the Bucks had in store or where I would be seated. I quickly found that I would be seated in the Midwest Airlines seats, located courtside opposite the Bucks' bench. If you're not familiar with Midwest Airlines, you may not want to waste your time getting to know them as they'll likely be purchased by a competitor in the near future. The most characteristic thing about the Milwaukee-based airline however, is the "baked-on-board" chocolate chip cookies. Scott and I were entitled to one cookie each...
Now many of you know that my favorite part of the NBA game is the player introductions. I don't care what David Stern says about them, I think they really get the adrenaline going and I always dreamed of being introduced in front of thousands of people.
Well I found out that today, I would be a part of the player introductions! I would be riding out on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle after all of the players were introduced. One the Bucks starting lineup was announced, the sounds of a Harley engine came from one of the tunnels and the public address announcer told the over 14,000 in attendance about my journey that started in Salt Lake City on November 3rd and would conclude on this very evening as I rode out w/ Bango, the Bucks mascot.
I still have to bother the Bucks staff a few more times for video of this, but check out some still shots below:
Raising my hands to the roar of the crowd
After Crossing the FINISH LINE
The thumbs-up from Bango & being escorted away from an Energee Dance Team member (I must add at this point, I had no idea what was going on, I was so blown-away by everything)!
Crossing the finish line (this picture and the one below are compliments of Getty Images).
Finally, what I call the million dollar photo. Check me out on the bike on the court as well as on the Scoreboard...
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the Bucks gave me 30 free tickets to utilize for friends for this final night. Unfortunately, they weren't as lucky as I was (they are the ones up top in section 429).
But luckily, they had HOOPS HEAVEN outside their section.
You're just plain crazy if you come to visit a Milwaukee sporting event and don't try a Bratwurst. Heck, I even had a Brat Burger too. As far as brands go, I'd recommend Usinger's or a Klements. No I'm not receiving advertising money, but I literally ate a brat for lunch 4 days a week when I moved up here, so I've gained a taste for the best.
There's no doubt that the Bradley Center is aging. It's now tied for the 5th oldest in the league, opened in 1988. Some of the older ones such as Madison Square Garden & The Palace of Auburn Hills are doing just fine. The Bradley Center however hasn't been making the necessary renovations that other arenas have. This is evidenced by the "big-screen" television shown below...
Now after seeing the Comcast Lounge at the Toyota Center, the Internet access at the United Center, and some of the Fed-Ex screens in the concourse of the Fed Ex Forum, this is just unacceptable. This looks like the television my Dad picked up at a public auction 10 years ago.
The scoreboard was really outdated also.
David Stern thinks the Bradley Center will suffice for a few more years. Although the Sonics appears to be headed for Oklahoma City, there still isn't any urgency in Milwaukee to prevent a similar thing from occurring.
They have a liquor lounge, like most other arenas. Here we have a Bacardi theme. But seriously, who drinks liquor in Milwaukee?
Oh yes, there was a game to be played, highlighed by the return of Devin Harris to Wisconsin.
Andrew Bogut, his facemask, Michael Redd, & Dan Gadruzic get ready for tip-off. Wait, Dan Gadzuric...this reminds me of playing for the Middle School basketball team and when we played the worst team in the league on the last game of the season, the coach said, "Who hasn't started yet this year?" and I raised my hand.
A lack of genuine club-level seating.
Bango completes his dunk between the fireballs. Excellent! Luckily, he didn't have the same mishap of Hugo the Hornet did during the Spurs-Hornets series.
Vinsanity shoots from the outside.
Bango entertaining once more...
These t-shirt cannons are getting scary...
Marcus Williams shoots over Bucks guard Ramon Sessions.
Bobby Simmons getting blocked by Stromile Swift.
New General Manager John Hammond was introduced early in the evening (no, not the guy from Jurassic Park), but the excitement soon ended as both Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson scored over 20 points and handed Milwaukee its sixth straight loss. Nevertheless, the NBA Tour ended at .500, going 15-15 on the season.
My friend Adrienne once again outdid herself with the sign
So that was it. 30 down. The Bucks staff even put a story about my tour on their website about my final night.
I was sitting a work on Monday when the phone rang. It was Tim Van Vooren of Fox 6 News and he wanted to know if I'd be interested in attending one more game so that they could do a story on the tour. How could I decline more basketball?
This would be Milwaukee's final home game of the season and they would match up against their division rival, the Chicago Bulls.
The evening started off with a select group of season ticket holders standing on the court for the player intros and eventually the players came over to them to sign some autographs. Michael Redd then took the microphone and promised Bucks fans a better season next year (if he's even around).
Now that I was purchasing tickets, my view wasn't as good as it had been all season.
The 400 level lounge called "NUMBERS"
The Bradley Center did have more banners in the rafters than most other arenas, however few have been recent and many come from Marquette basketball, who also play their home games at the Bradley Center.
A Kohl's blimp with Bango riding atop.
I attended the Bradley Center one other time during 2008, for the McDonald's All-American Game. The arena looked as it did any other time, with one small difference...the big circle in the middle. Yes, that Ronald in the middle.
We got to see Brandon Jennings and many other up-and-coming stars.
Even some wild gymnatics at halftime.
So that was it...I was more relieved than anything. The stress from the weather, contacting jaded front office staff, trying to juggle work and travel, updating my blog...it had all burnt me out. I will reflect more on my conclusions in my final post, yet to come.
Thanks to Lori Warzak, Mike Schneiders, Jim Paschke, Matt Wessel, Scott Bellmyer, Mary Lawyer, Kasey Boudah, Wes Givens, Sarah Ferrance, Maryann Deason, Richard Carter, and all the others who helped/came along to my final game.
So here's the Introduction to where I live...if you want to get technical, here's the building I live in.
If I had to pick one thing Milwaukee was known for, I'd have to say the Miller Brewery. I still rank the Coors & Budweiser brewery tours as better, but this is a good time and you get 3 free beers and a small bag of pretzels at the end.
Here you see myself and Tim Workinger, who felt his career in accounting was too intense for him to join me for a game in the NBA tour, at the start of the Miller Tour.
Here, Shea Sterner shows us that people can wear skull t-shirts and act civilized in the Miller Caves.
All of this beer will be displaced within 24 hours.
Honestly, if you want some good brewery tours, check out Lakefront Brewery. For only $5, you get the tour, 4 full glass samples and you get to keep the glass you drink the samples out of.
Another tour, I've yet to try is the Sprecher Brewery.
Or you could try one of the much smaller tours...
such as the RockBottom Brewery (national chain).
Or the Milwaukee Ale House...
Or the Water Street Brewery...
Unfortunately, there isn't much Schlitz around anymore.
The Pabst Brewery is becoming a residential area...
Forgetting the breweries, you could just go buy your beer at one of the local watering holes. Water Street is the home to most of them.
Or if you don't want to walk for a tour or sit in a bar, why not take a boat?
The Milwaukee "booze cruise" stops at 3 different breweries along the Milwaukee river, with lots of sampling at each.
Probably the landmark of Milwaukee if the Art Museum. This is most interesting because it changes throughout the day. 3 times a day, the wings rise.
Of course, there is Miller Park, which never experiences a rain-out.
Where the tailgating is the best I've experienced (here we see Nate Bollinger participating in Lasso Golf/Blongo Ball).
Of course the big celebrities are the Sausages. The Bratwurst, The Chorizo, The Hot Dog, and the Italian Sausage.
But with a last name like Cieszysnki, my loyalty is with the Polish Sausage.
Individuals that have never seen a one of the 5 Great Lakes often fail to understand the immense size of the them.
How about some of the Milwaukee architecture?
The Milwaukee Hilton, featuring a small indoor water park.
The Midwest Airline Center. Apparently this convention center could hold 555 city buses, end to end.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel building
Milwaukee Historical Society
Milwaukee Public Library
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, you can bring a bottle of wine and a blanket and experience Jazz in the Park.
Time for all of America to inherit these. Why do we need parking meters anymore when more people carry credit cards than change.
The US Bank building
There's even skyscrapers on the parking garages.
You may notice the skywalk crossing the river and connecting the buildings; typically a way to deal with the winter.Notice the skywalk below; it's the only skywalk in the United States that spans a river used by boats.
The Milwaukee Riverwalk
It's great to rent kayaks for the day and go up and down the river, stopping at restaurants and bars along the way...
I can't really talk about it too much, but make sure you try out the Safe-House in Milwaukee. It may be a bit tough to find, but ask around and you'll get there.
Many visitors come to Milwaukee every summer for Summerfest, the World's Largest Music Festival.
Upon the Summerfest grounds, there are several concerts going on at once. There's the US Cellular Stage -
The Harley Davidson Stage (currently in construction) -
The Miller Lite stage -
The Potowatami Bingo & Casino stage (by the way, you may want to check out the Casino during your visit) -
The Briggs & Straton stage -
Then there's the headliner stage, the Marcus Amphitheater.
Big Ben? The Allen Bradley Clocktower is recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest 4-faced clock in the world, with each face nearly twice the size of the faces on Big Ben in London, England.
It would be really bad luck to kill these ladybugs.
Then there is Brady Street on the east side of town. It's a bit quieter than the downtown & a bit more personality. Bars, restaurants and non-chain shops typically line the streets. Every year, the street holds a few festivals, a pet parade, and Festivus (the Seinfeld holiday).
US Cellular Arena, home of the Milwaukee Wave and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers.
Near the Arena, you can find the Wisconsin Athletic Walk of Fame - where you can read about Vince Lombardi, Oscar Robertson, and Robin Yount.
You may not recognize the name "Pick N Save", a regional grocer, but you surely know the name Harley Davidson, with its corporate headquarters in Milwaukee.
What about the Mitchell Domes, often sparking curiousity from visitors that see them from afar?
Each dome has a different environment, one a desert oasis, one a tropical jungle and one a floral garden.
This little park is fun...each one of the "fans" has a dial that allows the user to rotate the fan 360 degrees. The benches each have a mallet attached and can be played like a xlyophone.
Possibly my favorite part of Milwaukee is the Historic Third Ward. I enjoy it because you don't see a large of large corporations or advertisements pasted everywhere. Shops, restaurants, and more up and down the streets, including a pet bakery & the Museum of Advertising & Design. I enjoy looking at all of the local art along the streets and the old buildings sprung back into life w/ residential living.
Gertie the Duck statue...many stories behind this duck...
Take a trip down Humboldt Street and you may see some unique landscaping.
After months of fast food on the NBA tour (the best of which is In 'N Out Burger), I need some healthy food when I get home. The Milwaukee Public Market is a great remedy.
The Milwaukee Public Museum
Here you can take a glance at the planets,
see the largest dinosaur skull in the country,
or tame a butterfly...
Oh yeah, a lot of people up here wear those ridiculous cheeseheads (shown here by Andrew Westhafer).
One thing that Milwaukee seriously misses the mark on is their smoking policy. Beercity USA is one of the few big cities remaining that still allows smoking in public places. I've visited a couple of the cities across America & I can't even begin to explain how much more I enjoyed myself in California or Colorado because I was able to go out and not have a sinus infection the next morning nor have my clothing stink of cigarette smoke. It's feasible to allow smoking in the southern cities where you can leave a window open, but not in Milwaukee. I also understand the thought process that businesses will suffer, but if NYC, SF, and many other big cities are pulling it off, isn't that evidence enough that it works?
Here's my argument - Milwaukee is one of the coldest cities in America, so obviously the residents are inside the most. There are only 3-4 months a year where non-smokers can go out and about in open-air bars, otherwise they're confined to staying in or being miserable in a smoky environment. My friends in California, Philadelphia, New York refuse to visit Milwaukee during Sept-May because they don't want to deal with cigarette smoke. Are there people out there saying , "Gee let's take a vacation to Milwaukee so we can smoke in a public place!" Probably not, so a smoke-free environment would help to bring more tourism dollars to the city. Please help this city grow up, & get smoking out of Wisconsin.
So that's my current hometown - who want to come visit?
Thanks to the city of Milwaukee for many of the fun facts!