Royalty Tours USA

Monday, January 7, 2013

Royalty meets up with Paul Swaney of Stadium Journey in Detroit!

Me & Paul Swaney, co-founder of Stadium Journey 
After Domish and I left Cleveland Saturday night, we drove to Rossford, Ohio which is just south of Toledo. We spent the night there at Knights Inn.

By doing so we were within an hour from Detroit, Michigan we had a big day of events lined up.

On the way there, we stopped off for breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Monroe, Michigan which was halfway to Motown. We had a tremendous breakfast that started a very memorable day for us.

When we were done, we got back in the car and we drove to downtown Detroit which is located off of I-75. I was going to Ford Field to see the Detroit Lions play the Chicago Bears while Domish was going to Joe Louis Arena to see a college hockey game. He saw Michigan play Michigan State in the third place game of the Great Lakes Invitational Tournament. He got a general admission ticket at the box office for $10.

Before the game, he went to get something to eat at Lafayette Coney Island, which is known for their coney dogs. While he was there, he spoke to a few people. Ironically they turned out to be the parents of Nick Williams who plays hockey in the FHL for the 1,000 Islands Privateers.

We parked the car on the street within walking distance of Ford Field and we walked over to Brush and Adams Street which is right between Comerica Park and Ford Field. Upon arrival, we met up with Paul Swaney, co-founder of Stadium Journey, which is the website that reviews sports venues all over the country and the world. I'm happy to say I'm a special correspondent for his site.

Last year when the NHL decided they were going to have their next Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the Big House which is the home of the Michigan Wolverines on New Year's Day, I planned to go. Ironically that's now where Paul Swaney calls home these days. Paul grew up in Traverse City, Michigan. He then moved to Chicago. Now he resides in Ann Arbor. As time went on, I looked forward to finally meeting Paul who I was introduced to by my pal Andrew Van Cleve back in May 2010 via e-mail. Paul and I have been in constant contact since on a friendly basis as well as on business related ideas and future plans for his site.

When the NHL decided to lock out and ultimately they cancelled the Winter Classic, I told Paul I was coming to Detroit anyway. I wanted to meet him so that was top priority for making this trip. When I was in Chicago a few times over the past few years, Paul was away so we never got to meet up. With that being said, I was determined to do so this time. I told him regardless I was coming and true to my word I made it happen.

We wound up meeting up at 11:45AM. We shook hands and gave each other some much deserved love. Shortly thereafter, I had some business to take care of. Paul decided to join me for the Lion game. He told me he was counting on me to get us tickets for a reasonable price. As the game day got closer, I thought for sure it wasn't going to be that tough of a ticket. Well I was in for a rude awakening. Despite the Lions being so bad this season, they were playing the Chicago Bears who started the season 7-1. They came to Detroit with a 9-6 record and they needed to win plus they needed other teams to lose in order for them to make the playoffs. With that being said, I thought getting in wouldn't be that difficult. Unfortunately I knew a good number of Bear fans would show up but I still thought we could get in without a problem. As the clock ticked, people kept walking by. I asked furiously if anybody had any extra tickets. One guy had a handicapped seat early on for $81 which was face value. I told him no because I didn't want to spend that much since I didn't think this game was worth it. Little did I know, it was going to be such a hassle. Much to my chagrin, other people were looking for $100 a ticket as time went on. It was frustrating to say the least. Finally around 12:45PM, I saw someone who had an extra ticket. I told them I'll give them $20 for it. Thankfully they took it. It wound up having a $35 face value. One down, one to go. I thought I would find another person with an extra ticket before the game started. Unfortunately, I wasn't so lucky. I was really upset because I very rarely get into a game late unless I get stuck in a traffic jam. Time went on, less and less people were coming towards the gate to enter the stadium. Luckily around 1:15PM, three people came along and they had an extra ticket. It had a $55 face value on it. I reluctantly told them I'll give them $40 for it because Paul said he was willing to pay that much for a ticket. I would have offered them less for it but a scalper was trying to get it too after I made the initial contact with them. I wanted to get inside so badly. Thankfully they took the $40 and we headed in. Paul went in first with his camera. He got in relatively easily. As for me, I was given a very hard time by a lady who was working security at the gate. She gave me hell after all the aggravation I had just to find a few tickets to get in. This was the last thing I needed. I vowed to never come back to Ford Field. I was that upset on how she treated me.

Finally I caught up with Paul and we went to find seats together so we can sit and watch the rest of the game. The Lions just scored to make it 3-0 on a 44 yard field goal by Jason Hanson with 5:54 left in the first quarter which capped off a nine play 65 yard drive as we got into the building.

As for seats, Paul & I wound up finding some empty ones in the last row of the lower level in the end zone despite the fact the stadium was pretty packed. After I finished blowing off steam from the horrible experience I had, I was finally able to sit and relax. After a false start, Paul and I got to enjoy the game and each other's company. He told me he was glad I got everything off my chest. I was really upset. I thought that was very nice of him. I knew from our constant contact he was truly a kind and caring human being. I'm happy to say I was right.

As for the rest of the game we saw, the Bears scored 20 unanswered points before the Lions added a touchdown with 12 seconds to go before halftime which cut the Bears' lead to 20-10 at the intermission. In the third quarter, the Lions got within three at 20-17 with 6:31 to go. The Bears extended their lead to 23-17 with 1:49 left as kicker Olindo Mare booted a 28 yard field goal. He split the uprights again with 10:47 to go in the fourth quarter to make it 26-17. The Lions gave the Bears a scare as they caught a 9 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brian Robiskie from quarterback Matthew Stafford with 6:55 left in the game.

Fortunately for the Bears, they held off the Lions for the 26-24 victory. Unfortunately they didn't get the necessary help they needed from other teams as they wound up out of the playoffs.

After the game, Paul and I went to R.U.B. BBQ Pub which is located a few blocks away from Ford Field for a post game meal. We both ordered a half a rack of  mouthwatering St. Louis ribs. In addition, we had some great side dishes as well. Paul went with their jalapeno cornbread and macaroni & cheese while I chose cole slaw and broccoli.  It turned out to be an excellent dining choice. I strongly suggest if you like southern style food that you give them a try if and when you happen to be in Motown.

Stay tuned for another special post that will recap the next leg of the getaway.

Thank you for reading and following along.

Yours truly,

Gary Herman


StadiumJourney said...

Gary, it was so great to finally meet you in person. You are truly a wealth of knowledge in the realm of stadium travel, and it was a real pleasure and honor for me to get to pick your brain and get to know you better. I hope to make it to New York sometime soon so I can see you in your element. Thanks for all of your kind words, and your support over the years!

Gary Herman said...

Paul, I want to personally thank you for making time to see me when I came to Motown to close out 2012. I look forward to seeing you again in NYC in the near future. As for your site, you have the foundation in place which offers a novice or an expert like myself all the pertinent information that's needed if and when someone decides to visit a sports venue and/or its surrounding area for that matter. In other words, your site is a very powerful research source for not only sports travelers but for people in general. Keep up the great work. When time allows, I plan to continue to help enhance the Stadium Journey experience for those who are interested. Yours truly, Gary Herman