When people ask me what it's like to be a sportswriter, I tell them that I get paid to watch sports for a living.
And yes, it is as fun as it sounds most of the time.
But when I heard about what Paul Swaney does in association with his website, www.stadiumjourney.com I was immediately envious. Not only does this guy get paid to watch baseball for a living, he gets to do it while traveling across the nation and sampling the best — and I suppose the worst — that sports stadiums have to offer.
And I thought I had a great job.
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Scanning his website to see how many stadiums and parks the website covers, I noticed that it isn't limited to baseball. The reviews include football stadiums, basketball arenas, hockey rinks, soccer stadiums (Europe, too) and even a few of the better known race tracks. The teams range from minor league to college as well as most of the major professional teams.
You'd be hard pressed to find a venue or sport that isn't listed on the website. And if the Stadium Journey staff hasn't been to your park yet, they might be on their way. As a matter of fact, I just noticed that the website list includes the Western Province rugby stadium in Cape Town, South Africa.
The website staff approaches the reviews seriously, and the comments take a professional tone. Each review begins with a general history of the team and then — using a five-star grading system — will move into more specific categores like food and beverage, atmosphere, neighborhood, access, fans and, finally, return on investment.
As a nice touch, the website adds a final category called "extras", which might cover any extraneous details that the writer finds appealing or likable for each site.
Along with the thoughtful comments about the sites, each page includes photos from the site and surrounding area.
As far as Paul's review of Gesa Stadium (here a link if you'd like to see it for yourself), he seemed to enjoy his stay at the park, giving above average marks for food and beverage, atmosphere, neighborhood, fans and return on investment. He gave high marks for access — 5 out of 5 — and added two extra points for the sunshade and for the fact that the Rockies are his favorite team.
I looked to see how many other Northwest League parks have been reviewed, finding three others — Boise, Salem-Keizer and Yakima.
Tri-City topped them all with a 3.1 overall rating. Salem-Keizer got a 3.0, Boise a 2.9 and Yakima at 2.6.