Sporting events are one-of-a-kind experiences that can’t quite be duplicated. Something about walking into a stadium to see your favorite team play is just bound to give you goosebumps. However, when going to your favorite stadium, what about it makes you remember it? Is it just a slab of concrete with a playing field, or is it something more? It takes a lot of effort to make a sporting venue memorable in its own right, and many stadiums do this. Whether they have a distinguishing landmark or a distinguishing team history, venues are bound to be memorable.
Being a native of southern Ohio, naturally the first landmark to pop into my mind is at the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ball Park. In center field, two towers resembling smokestacks can be seen. These are known as the PNC Power Stacks, and they shoot fireworks when a Reds player hits a home run and when the Reds win. As if fireworks weren’t cool enough, it also expels fire when a Reds pitcher strikes a batter out. As an impressionable young Reds fan, these wowed me and they still do today. Without the Power Stacks, GABP just wouldn’t be GABP.
Another one of my favorite teams can be found at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus Blue Jackets’ arena is a fantastic hockey experience. Unlike some other NHL and NBA arenas, it has a physical landmark of its own in the form of a cannon. It fires every time the Jackets score a goal and after a triumph. As the name of the team is derived from the Civil War, having a cannon at the arena embraces the team identity. This is something that I wish more teams did.
One team that does do that is the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At one of their field’s red zone areas, they have a huge pirate ship for people to chill on. This thing looks awesome, and one look at it tells you that it is the Bucs’ stadium. Every venue in America should have that goal. They cannot afford to be generic.
Major League Baseball teams are easily the best at having a landmark. I mentioned the Reds, but almost every other MLB park has something like that. The Mets have a “Big Apple” (get it?), the Diamondbacks have a pool, and the Red Sox have a huge wall in left field. It may not seem like a lot, but they can really help make lasting memories for thousands of fans.
Sadly, the NFL, NBA, and NHL don’t do this as much as MLB. However, when you can’t make a landmark, you could always make the arena itself a landmark. You see this more in the most iconic sports teams, like the Celtics and Packers, with all of their prestige shown around in the form of banners and murals. Heck, most teams’ venues even get nicknames based on their prestige and popularity. The Garden. The Shoe. The Q. The Swamp. If you know your sports, you know exactly what places I just listed.
If a sporting venue is generic, with little prestige, then odds are it won’t be listed as among the greatest ever. That is why these landmarks exist. Either a physical representation of a franchise or simply the team itself can be a key reason why going to sporting events can be so fun. Imagine these places without any landmarks or banners.
I know, it’s hard.
Thanks for reading, and make sure to check Mid-American Culture daily. Also, check out this week’s playlist if you haven’t. I picked both John Frusciante songs.