Tag Archives: basketball

Indianapolis: Butler-ing It Up at the Final Four.

The first weekend of the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament just wrapped up, part of what is known as March Madness. All this college basketball going on brings back memories from 2010 when I had the chance to experience the Final Four in Indianapolis. Arriving at the hotel I had souvenirs, special event passes and championship game tickets waiting for me, provided through a vendor at my day job.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

What made this weekend even more exciting was the fact that a home-town cinderella was taking part, Indianapolis’s own Butler Bulldogs, as well as…

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

…the team and school I’ve been cheering since I was little, the Michigan State Spartans.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

The Duke Blue Devils and West Virginia Mountaineers were also there, as well as signage promoting the event throughout the downtown area. There is no better place for the final games than Indiana, the true home of basketball. The passion is unmatched. Just take a drive through the countryside and you’ll see a basketball net hung up everywhere imaginable. 🙂

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

Before the basketball hoopla I took advantage of the passes to the NCAA Hall of Champions, where you can checkout the various champions in countless collegiate sports and…

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, NCAA Hall of Champions

…the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home to the Indianapolis 500 auto race.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana, Final Four

One of the special events over the weekend was Bracket Town.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

There was great food, entertainment and basketball experiences for people of all ages.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

Indianapolis threw a great party. Of course here and throughout the weekend you were bound to run into celebrities, coaches of other college basketball teams not playing, announcers and who knows else.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

I had the chance to watch a cook off up-close with a certain head coach from the Indiana Hooisers and the main boss of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (he now coaches at George Mason University). Also, over the course of the weekend, even though I’m a Spartan fan, it was nice to get an autograph and my picture taken with Michigan Wolverines basketball coach Jim Beilein.

I didn’t go to the semi-final games where unfortunately Michigan State lost to Butler. 😦 Duke beat West Virginia in the other game setting up a match of goliath vs. the hometown small-school cinderella. There were lots of “Hooisers” comparisons being made. Will Gene Hackman be making an appearance I thought. 🙂

The National Championship game day began with a Butler Bulldog pep rally in Monument Circle, the center of the city.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Butler University Dawgs

Go Dawgs!!!

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Butler University Dawgs

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Butler University Dawgs

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Butler University Dawgs

A good crowd gathered wearing lots of blue and white, me included. I became a Butler Bulldog fan over the course of the weekend. I was a little disappointed when they lose a few days ago in this years tournament.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Butler University Dawgs

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Butler University Dawgs

All the hoopla was over, it was Monday evening now and game time. It was time to head over to Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts NFL football team. They used to play the Final Four and National Championship games in traditional basketball arenas, but due to increased media demand, fan interest and of course the bottom line, most are now played in domes and indoor football facilities.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Lucas Oil Stadium

The Road Ends Here. One game left.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, National Championship, Duke, Butler

The hometown Butler Bulldogs and the traditional-power Duke Blue Devils are about to do battle.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, National Championship, Duke, Butler

It was finally hitting me. I was at my first championship level sporting event. I can check something off the good ole travel bucket list.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, National Championship, Duke, Butler

The battle lines were drawn. Butler students and fans alongside the floor on one side.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, National Championship, Duke, Butler

Duke fans on the other. Of course the crowd was predominantly for the hometown team.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, National Championship, Duke, Butler

I wore the blue and white proudly watching the small Indiana school come within one half-court shot of shocking the country and winning it all.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, National Championship, Duke, Butler

There was no Hooiser magical ending as Duke took home the final prize, but the Bulldogs captured the hearts of the nation and provided a weekend myself and Indianapolis will never forget.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

What’s the biggest sporting event you’ve attended while traveling?

A Working Day in Lexington, Kentucky.

Detroit and Atlanta. I’ve done the twelve-hour I-75 drive back-and-forth dozens of times over the years, usually sight-seeing along the way, sometimes stopping overnight to recharge, other times driving straight through. This day would be different. It was a working day.

I needed to put in almost a days worth of work, but wanted to get from A to B in the same day. For that to work I needed to get on the road as early as possible (4 a.m.) to get as far as I could before stopping to spend time on the laptop. The place I chose to stop, one I had never really spent any time in before on the route was Lexington, Kentucky. It was a good midway point too.

I was traveling north-to-south from Michigan so on this early morning I drove through Ohio (with a refuel at a Waffle House) and Cincinnati and into Northern Kentucky towards Lexington.

Northern Kentucky - I-75 southbound heading towards Lexington

Northern Kentucky - I-75 southbound heading towards Lexington

Reaching the city in mid-morning I headed to Common Grounds Coffee House & Cafe. It sits just outside downtown in the Aylesford Place neighborhood. As a bonus this day gave me an excuse to visit new coffeehouses, capture photos and consume as much caffeine as possible haha. It would definitely help later on.

Common Grounds Coffee House & Cafe - Lexington, Kentucky

Common Grounds Coffee House & Cafe opened in 1992. They had an extensive menu of coffee drinks and food items. My beverage of choice was a Buckeye Latte. Who can go wrong with a Ghiardelli chocolate and peanut butter coffee?! It was a relaxing place to work, with lot’s of college students from the University of Kentucky and others on their laptops.

Buckeye Latte - Common Grounds Coffee House & Cafe - Lexington, Kentucky

I roamed around the old brick building of the coffeehouse checking out all the rooms and the unique art work on the walls throughout.

After working for a few hours it was time for a change of scenery and time to checkout another popular coffeehouse destination, Third Street Stuff and Coffee.

Third Street Stuff and Coffee - Lexington, Kentucky

Third Street Stuff and Coffee sits on Lexington’s East End opening in 1991. Unique and creative, creative, creative are the words I’d use to describe it inside and out. As the name suggests it’s part craft store, part coffeehouse. Everything is decorated: the chairs, the trash cans, the outside walls, the outdoor seating, you name it. It definitely has that small-town community feel to it and all the workers were exceptionally nice. I was consuming multiple iced coffees there. 🙂

Lexington, Kentucky - Third Street Stuff & Coffee Lexington, Kentucky - Third Street Stuff & Coffee

Third Street Stuff and Coffee - Lexington, Kentucky

Third Street Stuff and Coffee - Lexington, Kentucky

I was in the heart of Kentucky basketball country, Big Blue Nation. As I sat in Third Street Stuff & Coffee their first-round SEC tournament game against LSU was getting underway. The coffeehouse emptied. The streets emptied except for some unlucky people who had to work.

I took this as the perfect opportunity to take a break and checkout the city before heading to my next coffeehouse.

Downtown Lexington, Kentucky

In downtown the tallest building in blue is the Lexington Financial Center. Proposed on the open grassed lot in the foreground is CentrePointe. The project would result in the tallest building in Kentucky being built which would feature a hotel, condos and retail and office space. A panoramic shot from South Limestone Street.

Panoramic shot - Downtown Lexington, Kentucky

Being in Big Blue Nation I had to checkout the University of Kentucky men’s basketball teams home court, Rupp Arena. The arena opened in 1976 and is part of Lexington Center, a convention center with a mall and the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

The arena is named after legendary coach Adolph Rupp, who led Kentucky to four of their seven National Championships. It’s hosted NCAA Tournament Games and Final Fours and more games for Kentucky’s women’s team of late which has become a power recently too.

Rupp Arena - Lexington, Kentucky basketball - Big Blue Nation

Right outside the gates in the lobby is the old Rupp Arena center court.

Rupp Arena - Lexington, Kentucky basketball - Big Blue Nation

After checking out downtown and driving through the University of Kentucky I headed to Coffee Times on the southern outskirts of town. It seemed like a cool place, but had a lack of electrical outlets. When choosing a coffeehouse to spend time in, that won’t work for me. I headed to a nearby Starbucks for a while, before it was time to hit the open road.

I headed the rest of the way through Kentucky, into Tennessee and finally into Georgia and the Atlanta area. I arrived after midnight making it almost a 24-hour day trip south. All that caffeine consumption sure came in handy. 🙂

I accomplished a lot though getting work done, being on the open road, capturing some photos and spending time in a new place and drinking lot’s of coffee. What could be better? It’s definitely something I’ll do again. Returning to Lexington is a must too.

Do you stop for long periods of time when on the open road? If so, what do you do? Explore? Work? Checkout the local restaurants and bars?