Dukes of Awesome

5 Great Buffalo Sports Vacations by buckybrooks

The great thing about America is you can pick any stupid topic and no matter how mundane and uninteresting it may seem, you will undeniably find people who are completely obsessed by it. Vacuum Cleaners. Hotel Key Cards. The Atlanta Hawks. You name it, and I’m pretty sure a surprisingly large number of people love it.

For me, my obsession is the commercial aviation industry. I love everything about it: the inability for any airline (other then Southwest) to turn a profit for more then 3 days; the fact that a minor snow squall in Duluth will delay and cancel 1,500 flights across America; the unparalleled disaster that is the Philadelphia Airport (try flying through there and having your luggage show up at your destination sometime in the same decade).

But what I love most about commercial aviation is how relatively easy it is to fly for free. In the last six month’s I’ve accumulated well over 200,000 frequent flyer miles (enough for theoretically 8 round-trip U.S. tickets), and all without ever taking a single flight. How I’ve been getting all these miles is of no concern for a Buffalo sports blog (if you really want to know, drop me an email), but what is of concern is using this free travel to support our beloved sports teams in road venues across America.

So armed with more then 6 weeks of vacation time, the Bills and freshly-released Sabres schedules, and eternal Buffalo optimism, I’ve outlined 5 different Buffalo sports vacations over 5 different months. I’d love to go to to all 5, but reality says that probably won’t happened. But nothings preventing you from going to at least 1, no matter what your budget is.

Miami: October 24-27

Since we won’t be able to watch the comedy show that is the Dolphins live in Buffalo – why not venture down to Miami instead? If you’ve never seen a Bills-Dolphins game in Miami this trip should be a must. There’s no sports city that hops the bandwagon with as much zeal as Miami, and the Dolphins poor performance last year made tickets easily available. The stadium will have roughly about 20,000 Bills fans (between transplants and vacationers), the Buffalo tailgates pregame have a great Ralph Wilson Stadium vibe, and you can’t go to the beach or bars that weekend without hearing “Lets Go Buffalo” chants. I went last year and it was a complete blast, although waving this sign around post game almost got me killed:

Get there Friday and take part in a full weekend of Buffalo-themed parties already organized. Plus you’ll be able to watch the Sabres game Saturday night with Kent Hull and hundreds of Buffalo fans. Seriously – check out that link.

How expensive?: Moderate. Always a prime vacation spot, flights and hotels get booked quickly. So make your reservations now.

Odds of me going: 100%. Tickets are already booked.

Boston: November 7-10

Oh the beauty of the Buffalo double. Sabres @ Bruins on Saturday night. Bills @ Patriots on Sunday afternoon. See two teams for the price of one (trip). Perfect, right?

Maybe not – Patriots tickets are notoriously difficult to get: look to spend at least $80 for Standing Room tix, double it if you want to sit, triple it if you want to sit anywhere remotely close to field. Tack on the expensiveness of Boston (from hotels to $40 stadium parking) and combine that with obnoxiousness of the Bostonians that you’ll have to deal with for a few days.

Biggest problem with this trip is that too much is tied up in us winning the Bills’ game. If we pull off the upset the trip would undoubtedly be worth it. But I’m not excited about the prospect of paying $80 to stand on a ramp and watch from a distance as the Patriots run up the score in a Nor’easter. Even booing Chara for a few hours the night before couldn’t save the weekend then.

How expensive?: Surprisingly expensive, relatively.

Odds of me going: 30%. Like the “double” opportunity, hate the price. Don’t like the odds of winning, either.

New Jersey: December 12-15

Another great Buffalo double. Saturday night spent @ the Prudential Center to watch the Sabres vs. Devils (largely considered one of the best new arenas in America); Sunday afternoon in the Meadowlands to watch Bills vs. Jets. What’s great about this trip is that it’s pretty inexpensive. The Devils draw roughly 17 people per game leading to abundant tickets for walk-ups and below face scalpers; and on the football side, for a big market sellout team Jets’ tickets are fairly easy to get on the secondary market.

If you’re looking for a Buffalo roadtrip on the cheap, this one is it. Save money by carpooling and driving into Jersey on Saturday, staying just one night in Newark. Get three friends to split the costs and you could do everything for easily under $200 each. Or get their a day early and stop in Atlantic City, and you’ll have seen everything there is to see in NJ, and will never have to step foot in that joke of a state again.

How expensive?: Cheap. Surprisingly cheap.

Odds of me going: 85%. At that price, how can I not?

Phoenix: January 28-31

From January 10th to February 3rd, the Sabres will play only 1 home game in the friendly confines of HSBC Arena. As someone who really needs a hockey fix this gap is far too long. Plus the Sabres will undoubtedly need some road support to make it through this stretch. So pick a roadie to go to. How about Sabres @ Coyotes on January 31?

Here’s why to choose Phoenix: interesting arena, numerous cheap tickets, large Buffalo contingent, great January weather, and a sensational peripheral event – the FBR Open a mere 12 miles away.

The FBR Open is not your typically PGA event. Billed as “The Greatest Show on Grass”, it’s not only the highest attended event of the year, it’s also by far the rowdiest. The tournament is described as “one big party” with an atmosphere similar to the infield at the Kentucky Derby. Great shots are cheered with unbridled enthusiasm; poor shots are raucously booed. In fact, one time Justin Leonard even gave the finger to the gallery after they booed a particually bad shot. Where else can you see that, but at at the FBR?

Fly in Wednesday, take in a few days of the tournament, and fly the red eye home after the Sabres game on Saturday. Be home in time for Sunday – to watch the Bills win the Superbowl.

How expensive?: Moderate. Only real expensive part is the flight. Use some frequent flyer miles for a free flight, and an action packed 4 days in Arizona becomes very affordable.

Odds of me going: 50%. I actually really wanted to go to the FBR open before the Sabres schedule came out. The Sabres game made this even more attractive.

Honolulu: February 5-12

It’s been a busy few months jetting around the country. The Bills have just won the Super Bowl, you spent 24 hours camping out to have the best spot for the parade down Delaware, and you’ve finally recovered from that 4 day post-Superbowl boozefest/hangover. Now you need a real vacation.

Aloha Pro-Bowl! A week of sandy beaches, NFL Player parties, and sunny 85-degree days. Not only is it the last chance to see pro football for 6 months (and yes, I use that term loosely to describe the Pro-Bowl), but it could be the last chance to see the Pro-Bowl in Hawaii (it’s rumored to move possibly in 2010).

So enjoy it while you can. Tickets are always abundant and it’s a great excuse to go to Hawaii (which offers all sorts of awesome non-sports things to do). Plus the odds are you’ll have the opportunity to shares some Mai-Thais on the beach with Brian Moorman. Good luck making that happen anywhere else.

How expensive?: Very. Here’s where having a lot of free hotel rooms and free airfare would help.

Odds of me going: 40%. I long targeted the 2009 Pro Bowl as a vacation, and I have the points to make it possible.

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

That Miami game is tempting. Can I borrow some of your miles?

Comment by twoeightnine

Hmmm… I’m pretty intrigued by the NJ weekend…

Comment by Heather B.

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