On Thursday 9 September I embarked on a trip to Boston, Washington, Philidelphia and New York attending two MLS matches and visiting six sports grounds in total.
Starting in Boston, I attended New England Revolution’s match with New York City at the Gillette Stadium on 10 September. I got to the ground via taxi from the centre of Boston, with car being the easiest mode of transport for soccer games. There is a train but it only runs for NFL supporters on matchdays. My match ticket cost $27 and was located in the lower third of one of the main side stands. New England won the game 3-1 and some familiar European faces featured for the away team including Andrea Pirlo, David Villa, Jack Harrison and Frank Lampard who scored New York’s goal. Patrick Vieira was also in the dugout for the visitors.
Although the 66,829 capacity stadium was only around a third full, it was still an impressive experience. The NFL ground seemed to adjusted well for MLS games. The match atmosphere had a feel of a typical American sports event with prizes given to the best row of supporters (which was just in front of me), t-shirt cannons and typical snacks and drinks including popcorn, hot dogs, pretzels, beer and soft drinks.
Ahead of kick-off, I attend the New England Patriots museum and shop which offered a behind the scenes look at the American Football club. It also included New England’s four Vince Lombardi Trophies and Super Bowl championship rings. The exhibit is open seven days a week but closes for private rental functions and events. It is sometimes closed before and during Patriots home games, but does re-open following 1pm home matches. It’s open 10am-5pm on weekdays, 10am-9pm on Saturdays and 10am-7pm on Sundays.
During my time in Boston, I also attended the Fenway Park tour. Not far from the centre of Boston, it is the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball and certainly worth a visit. Hours of operation are between 9am-5pm, the last tour departs at 5pm on non-game days and on game days it departs three hours before game time. In winter it runs from 10am-5pm and is available all year-round. The tour goes around much of the park and gives insight into some of the intriguing stories from down the years – it even includes a rooftop garden. I was also fortunate enough to get a picture with three of their World Series trophies.
I next flew to Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport from Boston which cost $65. While in the capital I visited Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium which is home to DC United. It is located around the corner from the Stadium-Armory station. Although no tour, there is a shop which is open at typical times but on arrival, you must make staff aware via the intercom as the door is typically locked. While in the store, I was able to go out to the stands to take some photographs. DC United are in the process of building a new ground so I was pleased to visit the RFK stadium ahead of the club’s move.
Philadelphia and New York
Next, I took the train to Philadelphia from Washington which cost $27. There I visited Citizens Bank Park which is home to the Philadelphia Phillies and located at South Philadelphia Sports Complex. Accessible via AT&T Station, there is a park tour and shop. In season (April – September) public tours are available Monday through Saturday. Tours are not available on days when the Phillies are playing afternoon home games. In the off-season (October – March) tours are at 10:30am Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Be aware tour tickets must be purchased in advance and are not sold to guests on the day of the tour. I was unable to do the tour so instead visited the store where I asked staff if I could go out to take some pictures from inside the park and they, like DC United, were very accommodating.
Literally across the road is Lincoln Financial Field where the Philadelphia Eagles play. Again I did not book to do the tour and instead spoke to the ticket office who allowed me to go out and take some photos from the stands. The tour is available Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 2pm and Saturday at 12pm and 2pm. Tickets cost $10 and $8 for children and available at Ticketmaster.com. Tickets must be purchased 24 hours prior to the tour start time.
The final leg of my trip was in New York, with train travel from Philadelphia costing $39. I watched New York City FC play against FC Dallas at the Yankee Stadium on 18 September. In a match where both sides should have won the game in an exciting finish, it ended 2-2. Similarly to the previous game versus New England, New York’s starting 11 featured their big name players. The ground included various food outlets including a Papa Johns and gluten free kiosk. My ticket cost $30 and it was a real pleasure to watch a game from the famous Yankee Stadium. Although a baseball park, the adaptation for a soccer match was seamless. The attendance was around 20,000 for the fixture, all of which went deadly quiet when the away team scored their two goals.
I would certainly recommend the east coast of America as a good location to visit a large number of sports grounds in relatively close proximity. Transport is generally easy and it was really enjoyable to visit some of the USA’s oldest cities combined with local sports teams. Stadium staff were very friendly and welcoming. It was a personal highlight to visit the Gillette Stadium which is based on a huge complex and hugely impressive modern venue. It was also incredible to visit Fenway Park, which is effectively a listed building in the States. That combined with DC United’s stadium, which the club are soon moving from, and South Philadelphia Sports Complex with three sporting venues on one site. Finally, ending the trip in New York and at the Yankee Stadium was an ideal way to close out a tremendous holiday.