Saturday, February 24, 2018

How Long It's Been: Tottenham Hotspur Won a Trophy

Of course, they released a DVD.

This Sunday, North London soccer team Arsenal will play Manchester City in the Final of the Football League Cup, at the new Wembley Stadium in London.

Strange: Even as their rivals from 4.7 miles away, Tottenham Hotspur, seem likely to finish above them in the Premier League for the 2nd season in a row - after not doing so for 21 straight years - Arsenal still have more to show for it.

The English media have loved Tottenham for a long time, with their 1961 team becoming the 1st in the 20th Century ton win both the English top flight, then called the Football League Division One, and the Football Association Cup in the same season. This is called "doing The Double," and the Baby Boomers in England loved them for it.

When Arsenal did the same in 1971, it was a different time. The Boomers has grown up, and this Arsenal side was a side for their kids, or maybe their younger brothers.

Unless you were raised in a family that loved Arsenal, you were raised to hate Arsenal - as if the two were the only teams in London. There are 12 League clubs within the M25, London's version of a road "beltway," and usually half of those are in the top flight, now called the Premier League.

When Arsenal had a run of success, 1987-95, they were not loved by the public outside North London as the 1981-84 "Spurs" side were. When Arsenal became perhaps the greatest team in English history between 1998 and 2006, they gained admirers all over the world, thanks ton the growth of satellite TV coverage. But, despite winning next to nothing, Spurs always got the more flattering coverage in the media.

As a result, when Arsenal lost the 2011 League Cup Final, that made it 6 years since they'd won a trophy. They won the 2005 FA Cup, but haven't won the League since, lost the UEFA Champions League in the 2006 Final and the 2009 Semifinal; lost the FA Cup in the 2009 Semifinal; and lost the League Cup in the Final in 2007 and 2011, and in the Semifinal in 2008 - which brings me to today's focus.

The League Cup is kind of a weird competition. All 92 clubs in the Football League, in all 4 divisions, are eligible for it. This makes it different from the FA Cup, where every Club in England, and, through an arrangement, a few teams in Wales, are eligible for it that's over 700. Paragraph.

Each round is a single match, with home field advantage chosen by a lottery, until the Semifinal. Then, it's 2 legs, home-and-home. The Final, as is that of the FA Cup, is held at Wembley Stadium in West London, England's national stadium.

The FA Cup was founded in 1871. The League Cup was not founded until 1960, and thus has considerably less prestige. For a club with the kind of support that Tottenham have, winning it would be huge. For a club with the kind of support that Arsenal have, winning it would be nice, but there are more important things, and they are - at least, theoretically - within reach.

This is not the case with Tottenham. They have not won the league, under any name, since that 1961 double. They have had close calls the last 2 seasons, but blew it - or, as they say in England, "bottled it" - both times.

Indeed, late-season collapses have happened to Spurs several times in recent years. The template was 1987. When they took the field (or "the pitch") at their former home of White Hart Lane at a Semifinal replay of the League Cup on March 4, they had a chance at a unique domestic "Treble": Winning the League, the FA Cup, and the League Cup in the same season.

But Arsenal won that game, and the Final against Liverpool. Spurs fell apart in the League, and choked in the FA Cup Final. In a span of 73 days, they went from a good chance at a unique feat to having won nothing. (The feat has still never been accomplished: As Meghan Trainor would say, "No Treble.")

In 2006, 2012 and 2013, Spurs had a great chance to finish ahead of Arsenal. Each time, they were ahead going into the last game of the season. And, each time, the results didn't go their way. (The 2006 occurrence is the most notable. One does not simply discuss "The North London Derby" without mentioning that occurrence. It is folly.)

In 2007, the North London rivals met in the League Cup Semifinal. In the 1st leg, at The Lane, Spurs blew a 2-0 lead, and it ended 2-2. In the 2nd leg, at Arsenal's new Emirates Stadium, it was 1-1 after regulation. Away goals didn't matter, so extra time (we would say "overtime") was played, and Arsenal quickly scored twice to win 5-3 on aggregate.

In 2008, the situation was reversed. Until this season, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has played mainly reserves in the League Cup, trying to get them experience for more prestigious games. They 1st leg was at the Emirates, and it was a 1-1 draw. The 2nd leg, at The Lane, was no contest, as Tottenham, mainly starting their starters against "Arsène Wenger High School," won 5-1.

Spurs soon released a DVD of this game, titled The Perfect Game. A, It was starters against reserves. Big deal. B, How can it be "perfect" if you let in a goal? Morons.

February 24, 2008, 10 years ago today: Tottenham beat West London club Chelsea 2-1 to win the League Cup at Wembley Stadium. Although Didier Drogba, a.k.a. "Dogbreath," another of the most hated opponents Arsenal have ever had due to his goals against them and his obvious and unrepentant diving, opened the scoring, Tottenham got a penalty that was buried by Dimitar Berbatov, the Vulgarian Bulgarian, and the game went to extra time. Jonathan Woodgate, a defender, scored the winner in the 94th minute.

Sours fans acted like they'd won the League and the Cup - instead of just the League Cup. It was their 1st trophy of any kind since the 1999 League Cup. Those are the only 2 trophies they've won since their last FA Cup win in 1991, and they haven't even been to a Final in that tournament since, going 0-4 in Semis, including 0-2 against Arsenal. And that 1961 League title remains their last.

As Arsenal's trophy drought grew, to 7 years, 8 years, 9 years, before it finally ended at 9 with the 2014 FA Cup, the English media harped on it more and more. "Arsenal's trophy drought" became a catchphrase, a cliche, a meme.

Spurs have now surpassed that. But does anybody talk about "Spurs' trophy drought?"

No, because that only happens to big clubs. When Manchester United went 26 years without winning the League, from 1967 to 1993, it was talked about constantly. Now that Liverpool have gone 28 years without winning the League, since 1990, it is talked about constantly.

And now that Arsenal have gone 14 years without winning the League, since 2004, it is talked about constantly. Just as it was from 1971 to 1989, when, to borrow the phrase of author and Arsenal fan Nick Hornby, it was "Eighteen fucking years!" And when Arsenal reached the climax of the 1971 season, before winning both the League and the FA Cup that year for "The Double," their last trophy was the 1953 League title, right before Queen Elizabeth II was crowned, and they said, "Arsenal haven't won a trophy since the Coronation."

So, big clubs get this treatment. Tottenham don't. That's because Tottenham are not a big club.

But they are a club that hasn't won a trophy in 10 years. Ten years exactly. How long has that been?

*

At the time, Molson Coors, which owns the London-based Carling brand of beer, held the naming rights to the tournament. From 2003 to 2012, it was known as the Carling Cup. Previously, another brewery had it 2004-12: The Worthington Cup. This was a far cry from 1982-86, when Britain's national Milk Marketing Board had it and it was the Milk Cup; or 1993-98, when it was the Coca-Cola Cup.

Betting company Littlewoods held it 1986-90, the now-defunct electronics company Rumbelows 1990-92, Capital One 2012-16, no sponsor last year (it was just "The EFL Cup," for "English Football League"), and now, Thai-based (but Brazilian-sounding) energy drink Carabao: The Carabao Cup.

Of the 16 players Tottenham named as possibilities for use in that game: Backup goalkeeper Radek Černý was only there on loan, and did not get into the game; starting goalkeeper Paul Robinson, starting left wing Steed Malbranque, starting forward Dimitar Berbatov and backup midfielder Teemu Tainio (who entered the game in the 75th minute) left the team at the end of the season; starting left back Pascal Chimbonda, starting central midfielder Didier Zokora, and backup forward Darren Bent (who didn't get into the game) left in 2009.

Starting right back Alan Hutton, starting centreback Jonathan Woodgate, and starting forward Robbie Keane left in 2011; starting centreback and team Captain Ledley King (nicknamed "Leadfoot Queen" by Arsenal fans) retired in 2012; starting central midfielder Jermaine Jenas and backup midfielder Tom Huddlestone (known as "Hundredstone" for his hefty weight, entered the game in the 61st minute) left in 2013; and starting right wing Aaron Lennon and backup centreback Younès Kaboul (who entered the game in extra time) left in 2015. As Kaboul had left and returned to Tottenham, Lennon was the last remaining player. And manager Juande Ramos was fired early in the 2008-09 season.

King retired in 2012; Hutton, Jenas, Cerny and Tainio in 2014; Woodgate in 2016; and Robinson and Zokora in 2017. Still active: Malbranque with MDA Chasselay in France, Lennon with Lancashire club Burnley, Chimbonda with Washington F.C. of Wearside (George Washington's ancestors are said to have come from the Wearside town of Washington), Kaboul with Hertfordshire team Watford, Huddlestone and Bent with East Midlands club Derby County; and Keane and Berbatov are now playing in India, the former with Indian club ATK of Kolkata (formerly "Calcutta"), the latter with Kerala Blasters.

Tottenham have since torn down White Hart Lane, begun building their new stadium which will open next season, and are spending the 2017-18 season playing home games at Wembley.

Manchester United were then the holders of the Premier League title, and were about to win it again. Chelsea were the holders of the FA Cup, and were about to be succeeded by Hampshire club Portsmouth. Man United would beat Chelsea in the Final of the UEFA Champions League -- which, like the Super Bowl, is selected in advance, in the hope of getting a neutral site. So these 2 big English clubs faced each other for the championship of Europe in... Moscow. Man U succeeded AC Milan.

Some of the legends of the game have died. From England: Bobby Robson, Nat Lofthouse, Dave Sexton, Bill Foulkes, Tom Finney, Ron Springett, Howard Kendall, Gerry Byrne, Jimy Hill, Cyrille Regis, Jimmy Armfield, and Arsenal legend Don Howe. From Scotland: Tottenham legend Dave Mackay and Arsenal legend David Herd. From Wales: Gary Speed.

From Italy: Enzo Bearzot, Giorgio Chinaglia and Cesare Maldini. From Germany: Helmut Haller, Ottmar Walter, Bert Trautmann, Udo Lattek and Hans Schäfer. From the Netherlands: Johan Cruijff and Piet Keier. From France: Raymond Kopa. From Hungary: Gyula Grosics. From Russia: Fyodor Cherenkov. From the Czech Republic: Josef Masopust. From Austria: Karl Stotz. From Spain: Ignacio Zoco and Manuel Sanchís Martínez.

From Brazil: Sócrates, Djalma Santos, Gilmar, Nílton Santos, Carlos Alberto, Hilderaldo Bellini, Zito and Waldir Peres. From Argentina: Alfredo Di Stéfano. From Uruguay: Alcides Ghiggia. And from Mozambique by way of Portugal: Eusébio and Mário Coluna.

Aaron Ramsey and Eden Hazard were 17 years old; Antoine Griezmann, Jack Wilshere and Neymar were 16; Mario Götze was 15; Paul Pogba and Harry Kane were 14; Deli Alli, Alex Iwobi and Gedion Zelalam were 11; Christian Pulisic was 9, Gianluigi Donnarumma was about to turn 9, and Reiss Nelson was 8.

Current Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was an assistant coach at Espanyol, "the other club in Barcelona." Current New York Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch was playing for Chivas USA in Los Angeles. Current New York City FC manager Patrick Vieira, an Arsenal legend, was playing for Internazionale Milano.

Alain Vigneault of the Rangers was the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks. John Hynes of the Devils was an assistant coach for the U.S. national hockey team. Pat Shurmur of the Giants was an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. Todd Bowles of the Jets was an assistant coach for the Miami Dolphins. Jeff Hornacek of the Knicks was an assistant coach for the Utah Jazz. Kenny Atkinson of the Nets was an assistant coach for the Knicks. Aaron Boone of the Yankees was playing for the Washington Nationals. Doug Weight of the Islanders was playing for the Anaheim Ducks. And Mickey Callaway of the Mets was running out the string of his playing career, in Korea.

In North American sports, the defending World Champions were the Spurs -- San Antonio, not Tottenham -- the New York Giants, the Boston Red Sox *, the Anaheim Ducks, and the Houston Dynamo were the holders of the MLS Cup. The Heavyweight Champion of the World, depending on who you believe, was either Ruslan Chagaev (recognized by the WBA), Oleg Maskaev (WBC), or Wladimir Klitschko (IBF).

The Olympic Games have since been held in Britain, Canada, China and Russia. The World Cup has since been held in South Africa. And both have since been held in Brazil.

Same-sex marriage was legal in the following countries: The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, Israel, South Africa; in the U.S. States of Massachusetts and Iowa.

The Mayor of London was Ken Livingstone. The Prime Minister was Gordon Brown. The current holders of those offices, Sadiq Khan and Theresa May, respectively, were both then serving in the House of Commons. Queen Elizabeth II was the monarch -- that hasn't changed.

The President of the United States was George W. Bush. Barack Obama was running to replace him. The idea that Donald Trump could become President, or that any President would do the things he's done, and say the things he's said, was ridiculous -- and should have stayed that way.

The Governor of New York was Eliot Spitzer -- for another 22 days. Andrew Cuomo was then his Attorney General. The Mayor of New York was Michael Bloomberg. Bill de Blasio was on the City Council. The Governor of New Jersey was Jon Corzine. Phil Murphy was National Finance Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

The Pope was Benedict XVI. The current Pope, Francis, was then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires. The Prime Minister of Canada was Stephen Harper. The holder of the Nobel Peace Prize was former Vice President Al Gore, for his work to stop the ill effects of climate change -- which is one of several examples of the Nobel Committee showing the need for separate awards for Peace and Humanitarianism. While Gore certainly deserved an award, what he got this one for had nothing to do with either preventing or stopping a war. There have since been 3 Presidents of the United States, 3 Prime Ministers of Britain, and 2 Popes.

There were still living veterans of World War I; the subsequent civil wars in Germany, Poland, Russia and Finland; the Mexican Revolution, the Turkish War of Independence, Mussolini's March On Rome, and the Brazilian Revolution. There were still living people who had survived the sinkings of the RMS Titanic, the RMS Lusitania, the SS Morro Castle, the SS Eastland, the USS Panay, the HMS Hood and the USS Juneau.

All 7 of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books had been published, but only the 1st 5 films had been made. Later in the year, Suzanne Collins would publish The Hunger Games. George R.R. Martin had published the 1st 4 A Song of Ice and Fire books, but Game of Thrones had yet to debut on television. Same with The Walking Dead, which had, at that point, only existed in comic book form.

Films premiering in the late Winter of 2008 included Cloverfield, Mad Money, The Other Boleyn Girl, Will Ferrell's 1970s basketball film Semi-Pro, and (what will hopefully be) the last Rambo film. Daniel Craig was James Bond, Brandon Routh was Superman, Christian Bale was Batman, and David Tennant was The Doctor.

Girlfriends aired its last first-run episode. Keeping Up with the KardashiansBreaking Bad and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles had recently debuted. No one had yet heard of Richard Castle. The Number 1 song in America was "Low" by Flo Rida (Tramar Lacel Dillard) and T-Pain (Faheem Rashad Najm). Michael Jackson was still alive.

Inflation was such that what $1.00 bought then, $1.17 would buy now -- or, more to the point of the country in question, £1.00 then is about £1.27 now. A U.S. postage stamp cost 41 cents, and a New York Subway ride $2.00. The average price of a gallon of gas was $3.32, a cup of coffee $2.45, a McDonald's meal (Big Mac, fries, shake) $6.39, a movie ticket $7.20, a new car $23,429, and a new house $290,400. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the preceding Friday at 12,381.02.

The tallest building in the world was Taipei 101 in Taiwan. The age of social media was well underway, but, as yet, there was no Pinterest, no Instagram, no Vine, and no iPad.

In the Winter of 2008, Cyprus and Malta adopted the euro as their currency. The Kivu conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was ended by a peace deal. Iran launched its 1st rocket into space; 10 years later, they have not yet had any manned missions. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia issued a formal apology to the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal children taken from their families to be raised "white" for much of the 20th Century.

And the subprime mortgage crisis resulted in stock markets around the world crashing on January 21, and again on February 5. The Great Recession was underway, but few people suspected that it would get as bad as it did later in the year. Indeed, at this point in the 2008 Presidential election, both the Republican candidates, led by Senator John McCain of Arizona, and the Democratic candidates, led by Senators Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, had foreign policy matters, especially the ridiculous Iraq War, as their main focus.

Mount Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary, and chess legend turned conspiracy theorist Bobby Fischer, and 1950s FA Cup hero Jimmy Dugdale died.

Few people born by February 24, 2008 have yet become famous, but Louis Tomlinson and Taylor Lautner were 16 years old; John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Jack Gleeson, Cole Sprouse, Dylan Sprouse, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, Zayn Malik, Hallie Eisenberg, Cara Delevingne and Ezra Miller were 15; Ariana Grande, Debby Ryan, Ally Brooke, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Molly Quinn, Harry Styles and Dakota Fanning were 14, and Justin Bieber was just short of turning 14; Saoirse Ronan and Halsey were 13; Sophie Turner, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Sasha Pieterse were 12; Tom Holland, Abigail Breslin, Katherine Langford, Normani Kordei, Lauren Jauregi, Lorde, Zendaya, Bella Hadid, Dylan Minnette and Hailee Steinfeld were 11, and Camila Cabello was about to turn 11; Maisie Williams, Dean-Charles Chapman, Dinah Jane, Kylie Jenner, Bella Thorne, Ariel Winter and the McCaughey Septuplets were 10; Jaden Smith, Rico Rodriguez and Nolan Gould were 9; Noah Cyrus was 8; Jackie Evancho, Dylan Douglas, Frankie Jonas and Willow Smith were 7; Maddox Joliet-Pitt and Rowan Blanchard were 6; Carys Douglas and Quvenzhané Wallis were 4; and Aubrey Anderson-Emmons was 8 months old.

February 24, 2008. Tottenham Hotspur won a trophy, the Football League Cup, then known as the Carling Cup, defeating Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.

It has been exactly 10 years since that day. Since then, Tottenham have never won another trophy, while arch-rivals Arsenal have won 3 FA Cups, are in the League Cup Final tomorrow, and have advanced to the Round of 16 in the UEFA Europa League.

Of course, "Spurs" have advanced to the last 16 of this year's Champions League, and the 5th Round of this year's FA Cup.  Theoretically, both clubs would win up to 2 trophies this season.

But who's kidding who? It's Tottenham. Surely, the chant will go up: "It's happened again, it's happened again, Tottenham Hotspur, it's happened again!"

How to Be a Devils Fan In South Florida -- 2018 Edition

Next Thursday, the New Jersey Devils travel to play the Florida Panthers, who are the only Miami-area team without a World Championship.

This may be the only NHL arena that Devils fans can "take over," meaning have more fans than the locals. If you'd like to be one of them, take heed.

Before You Go. It's South Florida, but in early March -- and it just so happens to be in spring break: While it may not be hot, presume that it will be humid and possibly rainy. Check the Miami Herald and Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel websites for their local forecast before you go.

Currently, they're saying that Thursday will be in the low 80s during the day, the high 60s at night, but with no rain. You'll still want to be comfortable, so you should pack at least 2 days' worth of summer clothes.

Florida is a former Confederate State, and parts of Miami sure seem like a foreign country. But you won't need to bring your passport or change your money. And it's in the Eastern Time Zone, so you won't have to fool with your timepieces.

Tickets. In the 2014-15 season, the Panthers averaged 11,265 fans per home game, last in all 5 North American major sports leagues, including Major League Soccer. This season, they're averaging 13,305, 28th in the NHL, ahead of only Arizona, Carolina and the Islanders. Their 78.1 percent of capacity filled also ranks 28th, ahead of the same teams.

Beyond the Panthers' big improvement last season after years of struggling on the ice, their improvement at the gate, but not by much, might also have something to do with the fact that the BB&T Center -- the 5th name the building has had in its 20 years of existence, mirroring the Philadelphia Flyers in a way that does not suggest success -- is 20 miles west of downtown Fort Lauderdale, and 35 miles northwest of downtown Miami.

Apparently, the Panthers' organization did not learn the lesson of the Richfield Coliseum. The Cleveland Cavaliers thought that people would no longer go into the city to watch their awful team, so they should move it to the suburbs, where their fan base (read: White people who would pay to watch basketball played by black men, as long as they didn't have huge Afros or bad attitudes but did have some white teammates) lived. So the Coliseum was built in the middle of farmland, 20 miles south of downtown Cleveland and 20 miles northwest of downtown Akron, and their attendance sucked for 20 years until they moved to downtown Cleveland. The Panthers made the same mistake.

Therefore, ordinarily, tickets should be easy to get. You can probably show up 5 minutes before puck drop and buy any ticket you can afford. But this is the season opener, so it might be tougher.

The normal prices: Center Ice Seating, $80; Goalzone Area Seating, $60; Lower Bowl Side Seating, $25; and Lower Bowl Endzone Seating, $15.

Getting There. It's 1,253 miles from the Prudential Center in Newark to the BB&T Center in Sunrise. Knowing this distance, your first reaction is going to be to fly down there. This is not a horrible idea, as the flight is just 3 hours.

Fort Lauderdale does have an international airport, and you could fly round-trip, non-stop, on United Airlines for as little as $340 -- if you don't mind both your flight down and your flight back being early in the morning. If you want either to be later in the day, it will cost more, as will flying in and out of Miami, which would be twice as much.

The train is not a very good idea, because you'll have to leave Newark's Penn Station on Amtrak's Silver Star at 11:22 AM and arrive in Fort Lauderdale at 5:17 the next day's afternoon, a 30-hour ride. The return trip will leave at 8:50 AM and return to Newark at 10:40 AM, "only" 26 hours – no, as I said earlier, there's no time-zone change involved. Round-trip, it'll cost $308. And the station isn't all that close, at 200 SW 21st Terrace. Fortunately, the Number 22 bus will take you to a short walk from the arena. Unfortunately, that sounds a lot like trying to get a bus to and from the Nassau Coliseum, which was not fun.

How about Greyhound? There are 7 buses leaving Port Authority every day with connections to Miami, only one of them nonstop, the 10:30 PM to 3:30 AM (2 days later) version. The rest require you to change buses in Richmond and Orlando. (I don't know about changing buses in Orlando, but I have changed buses in Richmond, and I can tell you: It is not fun.) The ride, including the changeovers, takes about 30 hours. Round-trip fare is $236, but you can get it for $175 on advanced-purchase. The station is at 515 NE 3rd Street. You'll need to take the Number 50 bus to the Number 72 bus to get to the arena.

If you want to drive, it'll help to get someone to go down with you, and take turns driving. You'll be going down Interstate 95 (or its New Jersey equivalent, the Turnpike) almost the whole way. It'll be about 2 hours from the Lincoln Tunnel to the Delaware Memorial Bridge, 20 minutes in Delaware, and an hour and a half in Maryland, before crossing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, at the southern tip of the District of Columbia, into Virginia. Then it will be 3 hours or so in Virginia, another 3 hours in North Carolina, about 3 hours and 15 minutes in South Carolina, a little under 2 hours in Georgia, and about 5 hours and 45 minutes in Florida before you reach Fort Lauderdale.

Given rest stops, preferably in one in each State from Maryland to Georgia, and 2 in Florida, you're talking about a 28-hour trip.

Once In the City. Naming a Florida town "Sunrise" makes some sense. The U.S. Army established a stockade named Fort Lauderdale in 1836, named for the commander of the detachment of soldiers who built the first fort, Major William Lauderdale. The town was incorporated in 1911, at the beginning of the first building boom in Florida. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area is a big market, with about 6.4 million people. But while Miami has about 453,000 people within the city limits, Fort Lauderdale has just 178,000, and Sunrise only 94,000.

Because Florida is so hot, and air-conditioning didn't become common until the mid-20th Century, Miami was founded rather late by the standards of the East coast, in 1825, and wasn't incorporated as a city until 1896. The name is derived from the Mayaimi tribe of Native Americans. Miami Avenue is the east-west divider, Flagler Street the north-south.

The Miami Herald, Fort Lauderdale's Sun-Sentinel, and the Palm Beach Post are the major newspapers in the area. And, considering how many ex-New Yorkers are around, you might also be able to get the Times, the Daily News, or, if you're really desperate (or really conservative), the Post.

Numbered Streets go east-west in Fort Lauderdale, while numbered Avenues and Terraces go north-south. The east-west divider is Andrews Avenue, and the north-south divider is Broward Blvd.

The sales tax in Florida is 6 percent, and it doesn't rise further in Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale and Sunrise. But it's 7 percent within Miami-Dade County. ZIP Codes in Miami start with the digits 330, 331 and 332; in the Fort Lauderdale area, 333; and in the Palm Beach area, 334 and 349.

Since 1984, South Florida has had a rapid-transit rail service, Metrorail. However, the arena can't be reached from it. You will need to take the Number 7 bus from downtown. The fare for the Metrorail and the Metrobus is $2.25.
Metrorail above, and the smaller Metromover below

Tri-Rail has run commuter rail service since 1989, linking 3 Counties: Dade (Miami), Broward (Fort Lauderdale) and Palm Beach.
A Tri-Rail train

Starting in early 2018, Brightline service will connect Miami with Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with an extension to Orlando, hoping to open it in 2020.

Going In. The BB&T Center, named for a bank, has been the home of the NHL's Florida Panthers since 1998, and there's a reason the team is called "Florida" instead of "Miami": The arena is 34 miles northwest of downtown Miami, and 14 miles west of downtown Fort Lauderdale, in a town called Sunrise. It's 22 miles from Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Dolphins; 34 miles northwest of downtown Miami, and 35 miles each from the homes of the Marlins and the Heat.

It was known as the National Car Rental Center from its opening until 2002, then the Office Depot Center until 2005, then the Bank Atlantic Center until 2012, and the BB&T Center since then. Branch Banking & Trust Company, based in Charlotte, also has the naming rights to the tallest building in the Carolinas (the BB&T Center in downtown Charlotte), the arena at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, and the BB&T Pavilion entertainment venue in Camden, New Jersey.

The arena's official address is 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise, FL 33323. As near a I can tell, "Panther Parkway" is NW 136th Street. To get there from I-95 South, take Exit 129 onto Florida Route 70/Okeechobee Road. Take that to Florida's Turnpike South. Get off at Exit 71, for FL-869 S/Sawgrass Expressway. Take Exit 3 for FL-816/Oakland Park Blvd. Turn right from Oakland Park Blvd. onto N. Flamingo Road. The 2nd right is NW 136th Street.
To get there from downtown Fort Lauderdale, take U.S. Route 1/Federal Highway South to Interstate 595/Port Everglades Expressway West, to the Sawgrass Expressway. Take Exit 1B to Pat Salerno Drive, and the arena and its parking lot will be on your right.

To get there from downtown Miami, take I-95 North to Exit 12A onto Florida's Turnpike. Take Exit 54 to the Port Everglades Expressway, and then follow the directions from Fort Lauderdale. For general parking, enter through Gate 1, 2, 3 or 7. Parking costs $20.

The rink runs east-to-west -- well, northeast-to-southwest. The Panthers attack twice toward the west (southwest) end of the arena.
The arena opened with a concert by Celine Dion, and on Millennium Eve, December 31, 1999, it hosted the last full Bee Gees concert with Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb all still alive. It has hosted the 2003 NHL All-Star Game, professional "wrestling" and UFC events, one of Barack Obama's final rallies in his 2008 Presidential campaign, and, just this week, a CNN Town Hall on Gun Control in response to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in nearby Parkland. (Mrs. Douglas was a journalist who fought for women's right to vote and the preservation of the Florida Everglades, and lived to be 108: 1890-1998.)

Food. With a great Hispanic, and especially Cuban, heritage, and also being in Southeastern Conference country (hello, tailgating), you would expect the hockey team in South Florida to have great food at their arena. But it looks like food is just about an afterthought at the BB&T Center.

It has restaurants accessible through their premium seating, such as the Penalty Box, the BB&T Chairman's Club and the Legends Lounge. There are also several bars that any fan at least age 21 and with money can use.

There are 3 food courts on each of the Plaza and Mezzanine Levels that include a wide selection of items on the menu. Guests also have an opportunity to enjoy dining on the two Party City Patios outside the Plaza Level food courts.

Team History Displays. Not much. The Panthers won the Eastern Conference in 1996 and the Southeast Division in 2012, and hang banners for those titles. But their 2 retired numbers aren't for players: 37, for original owner Wayne Huizenga, born in 1937; and 93, for their 1993 founding, for Bill Torrey, the former Islander boss who was their 1st general manager and built their conference title.
There are 8 individuals with a Panther connection who are in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but only 1, Pavel Bure, played more than 2 seasons for them (in his case, 3: 1999-2002). The other players are Dino Ciccarelli, Igor Larionov, Joe Nieuwendyk and Ed Belfour. In the "Builders" category, there's Torrey and 1st head coach Roger Neilson, for whom their press box is named. Torrey has received the Lester Patrick Trophy for contributions to hockey in America. Bure has been elected to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Hall of Fame, and was named to the NHL's 100th Anniversary 100 Greatest Players in 2017.

They don't have a team Hall of Fame, but they do have a "Den Of Honor," located on the Plaza Level between Sections 115 and 121. It's a museum, featuring photos, jersey and other equipment, and other items connected to the franchise's 23-year history. According to their website, "It also honors the people and organizations that continue to help South Florida grow as a hotbed for youth and high school hockey." (Hockey hotbed? South Florida? I think someone's been out in the sun for too long.)

The Florida Sports Hall of Fame is located at Lake Myrtle Sports Park in Auburndale, 232 miles northwest of downtown Miami, and 213 miles northwest of the BB&T Center. As yet, there are no Panthers players inducted.

Stuff. The Panthers have Pantherland, a team store, on the south (southeast) side of the building; and both a CCM Heritage Store at Section 122 and an Old Time Hockey Store at Section 112, paying tribute to early hockey (which, by this point, means anything prior to the team's establishment in 1993). There's also a Panthers IceDen in the nearby town of Coral Springs.

Since the Panthers don't have much history -- in those 22 years, they've made the Playoffs exactly 4 times -- don't expect to find too many books and DVDs about them. After their 1996 Conference Championship, Dave Rosenbaum wrote Miami Ice: Winning the NHL Rat Race With the Florida Panthers. (I'll explain the "rat" reference shortly.)

When the team began in 1993, they released a Florida Panthers Video Hockey Guide. The next year, an Inaugural Year tape, Heart & Soul. That's right, tape. Videotape. Amazingly, these 2 VHS releases and Miami Ice are available on Amazon.com. But that's about it.

During the Game. A November 19,2014 article on The Hockey News' website ranked the NHL teams' fan bases, and listed the Panthers' fans at 25th out of 30, pointing out that "They'll watch a winner." Maybe, but the arena being far from the downtowns of either Miami or Fort Lauderdale doesn't help. Nor does Florida's skewing toward a higher age.

Safety should not be an issue. The arena is an island in a sea of parking, and is nowhere near the ghettos of Miami.

South Florida is loaded with people who came from elsewhere, including ex-New Yorkers. The stereotype is that, when a New Yorker gets old, if he has enough money to do so, he moves to Miami. Especially if he's Jewish. Or Italian. As a result, you may see a lot of people who used to go to Ranger or Islander games, some of whom maintain their old allegiances, get the MSG Network on their cable system, and have adopted the Panthers as their "second team."

Be advised that, just 2 years ago, the arena had a problem with the plumbing. The toilets clogged up and overflowed. You'd expect this at the Meadowlands or the Nassau Coliseum. But this is not an old arena. I'm not saying it will happen again, just that it has happened fairly recently, and that it could happen again.

This Devils-Panthers game will be part of their $5 Beer Thursdays promotion. Look for signs mentioning it.

The Panthers' mascot is Stanley C. Panther, obviously named for the Stanley Cup (which, of course, hasn't yet been won by the team). He used to wear Number 93, in honor of the team's founding, until the number was retired for Torrey. Now, like so many other sports mascots, including our own N.J. Devil, he wears Number 00. Information about Stanley can be found at Stanley's Den.
Maybe Stanley C. Panther should've been named Tom Cat instead.

Ghaleb Emachah, a Venezuelan-born tenor of Arab descent who came to the U.S. at age 21 and settled in Fort Lauderdale, is the Panthers' regular National Anthem singer. Their goal song is "Out of Our Heads" by the Dropkick Murphys, adding a panther growl sound effect. But their biggest chant is the generic, "Let's go, Panthers!"

During the 1996 season, the Panthers' Scott Mellanby saw a rat in the locker room, and whacked it with his stick. He then used the same stick to score 2 goals in that night's game. John Vanbiesbrouck, the former Ranger goalie by then with the Panthers, called it not a hat trick, but a "rat trick." Thereafter, instead of fans throwing hats onto the ice when a players scored 3 goals in a game, they threw plastic or rubber rats when a player scored 2.

By the time they reached the Conference Finals, and knocked off the Philadelphia Flyers to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, they were throwing the rats after every goal. Even when Uwe Krupp scored the triple-overtime winner to give the Colorado Avalanche the Cup in Game 4 of the Finals, the fans used that last opportunity of the season to throw all their rats onto the ice, making it difficult to award the Cup. This resulted in an off-season rule change by the NHL that allowed for referees to penalize the home team if fans disrupt the game by throwing objects onto the ice. Nevertheless, on occasion, the fans still throw the plastic and rubber rats onto the ice, after 18 years.

After the Game. As I said, the arena isn't in a neighborhood. There's a mall with chain restaurants across 136th Avenue, but if that's not your cup of tea (or mug of beer), you may have to head back to Fort Lauderdale or Miami.

I checked for area bars where New Yorkers gather, and found one for each of the city's NFL teams. The South Florida Jets Fan Club meets at Hammerjack's, at 5325 S. University Drive in Davie, 11 miles southeast of the arena. American Social is the home of the local Giants fan club, and also caters to fans of the Yankees and Knicks, at 721 East Las Olas Blvd., 18 miles east in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Bokamper's, a bar chain run by former Miami Dolphin linebacker Kim Bokamper, has several outlets nearby.

Don't bother looking for Dan Marino's restaurants: They've all closed. He's had financial setbacks, partly due to paying his extramarital baby mama millions of dollars in hush money.

If you visit Miami during the European soccer season (now drawing to a close but starting again in mid-August), the Fado Irish Pub chain has an outlet downtown, at 900 S. Miami Avenue. Brickell on Metrorail, Tenth Street Promenade on Metromover. Another possibility, especially if you're a Liverpool fan, is Churchill's Pub, at 5501 NE 2nd Avenue, 4 miles north of downtown, in Little Haiti. Bus 9.

Sidelights. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale area's sports history is long, but aside from football, it's not all that involved. I'll get the Fort Lauderdale ones out of the way first.

* Fort Lauderdale Stadium and Lockhart Stadium. Built in 1962, the Yankees moved their spring training headquarters to the 8,340-seat Fort Lauderdale Stadium after being assured that, unlike their spring home of St. Petersburg at the time, their black players could stay in the same hotel as their white players. The Yankees remained there until 1995, by which point Tampa was not only long since integrated, but was willing to do pretty much anything city resident George Steinbrenner wanted, including build him a new spring home for the Yankees.
The Yankees' Class A team in the Florida State League also used it as a home field. After the Yankees left, the Orioles used it from 1996 to 2009. Although it no longer has a permanent tenant, or even a spring training tenant, it still stands, and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers use it as a practice facility. 1401 NW 55th Street.

Built in 1959, Lockhart is a 17,417-seat high school football stadium, across 55th Street from Fort Lauderdale Stadium, along 12th Avenue. It's been home to 4 different teams called the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, including the original NASL's version from 1977 to 1983, and the new NASL's version from 2011 to 2016. It hosted MLS' Miami Fusion from 1998 to 2001.

It's hosted 3 games of the U.S. national soccer team, including the November 23, 1980 2-1 victory that was the 1st time the U.S. ever defeated Mexico on home soil, the 1st time anywhere since the countries' 1st meeting, in the 1934 World Cup. It also hosted Florida Atlantic University's football team from 2003 to 2010, after which their on-campus stadium opened. 1350 NW 55th Street, at 12th Avenue.
It's the only stadium I know with more seats
in the end zones than along the sidelines.

For both stadiums, take Bus 14 from downtown Fort Lauderdale to Powerline Road & 56th Street, then walk 2 blocks west.

The current plan for the Major League Soccer team that retired English soccer star David Beckham wants to bring to Miami is for a 25,000-seat stadium in the Overtown section, bordered by 6th and 8th Streets and 6th and 7th Avenues, all NW. That's about a mile northwest of downtown. Bus 77. They still have to clear land-purchase and rezoning hurdles, but it looks like they have the proper ownership lined up. It looks like they will begin play in 2019, although it may take until 2020 for the stadium to open, in which case they may have to play their 1st (or even 2nd) season at Marlins Park.

Florida International University is at 11200 SW 8th Street, 16 miles west of downtown. Its Riccardo Silva Stadium, formerly FIU Stadium, opened in 1995 and seating 23,500, is at 11310 SW 17th Street. Bus 8. It is home to Miami FC, the largest team in the area until the Beckham team finally takes the field, if it ever does.
FIU should not be confused with Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Its 29,419-seat FAU Stadium, which opened in 2011, is at 777 Glades Road, or FAU Blvd. & N. University Drive. Tri-Rail to Boca Raton station. On October 14, 2014, the U.S. soccer team had a 1-1 draw with Honduras at FAU Stadium.
* Marlins Park and site of Orange Bowl. The home of the team that became known as the Miami Marlins when they moved in for the 2012 season was built at the site of the stadium known as the Miami Orange Bowl. It will be a long time before it builds up anything of  history, but it will never match the history of the classic horseshoe with the palm trees at the open east end.

Opening in 1937, and known as Burdine Stadium until 1959, it hosted the Orange Bowl game on (or close to) every New Year's Day from 1938 to 1995, and once more in 1999 when the Dolphins made the Playoffs to make their new stadium unavailable.

It also hosted the University of Miami football team from 1937 to 2007 (famed for its fake-smoke entrances out of the tunnel); the Miami Seahawks of the All-America Football Conference in 1946 (they moved to become the Baltimore Colts after just 1 season, but this was arguably the 1st "major league" team in any of the former Confederate States); the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl (a game involving the 2nd-place teams in each of the NFL's divisions from 1960 to 1969, also known as the Playoff Bowl, a game so lame that Vince Lombardi once called it "the only game I never want to win" – and he didn't); the Dolphins from 1966 to 1986; the Miami Toros of the North American Soccer League from 1972 to 1976; and 5 Super Bowls.

Most notably (from a New York perspective), the Orange Bowl hosted Super Bowl III, when the Jets beat the Colts in one of the greatest upsets in sports history, on January 12, 1969. It also hosted Super Bowl II in 1968, the Green Bay Packers over the Oakland Raiders; Super Bowl V in 1971, the Colts redeeming themselves by beating the Dallas Cowboys on a last-play field goal by Jim O'Brien; and Super Bowls X and XIII, in 1976 and 1979, respectively, the Pittsburgh Steelers beating the Cowboys in both.

The Orange Bowl was where the Dolphins put together what remains the NFL's only true undefeated season, in 1972. The Canton Bulldogs had gone undefeated and untied in 1922, but there was no NFL Championship Game in those days. The Chicago Bears lost NFL Championship Games after going undefeated and untied in the regular seasons of 1932 and '42. And the Cleveland Browns went undefeated and untied in the 1948 AAFC season, but that's not the NFL.

The Dolphins capped their perfect season by winning Super Bowl VII over the Washington Redskins, and then Super Bowl VIII over the Minnesota Vikings. And yet, despite having reached the Super Bowl 5 times, and Miami having hosted 10 of them, the Dolphins have never played in a Super Bowl in their home region. (They've done so in Los Angeles twice, and once each in New Orleans, Houston and San Francisco.) They also haven't been to one in 31 seasons, including all of their history in their new stadium. "The Curse of Joe Robbie," anyone?

North London soccer club Arsenal played their 1st game in North America at the Orange Bowl, on May 31, 1972. Because it was Miami on Memorial Day Weekend and thus really hot, only 4,725 fans came out to see the Gunners beat the Miami Gatos 3-2.

1501 NW 3rd Street, between 7th Street, 14th and 16th Avenues. Number 11 Bus west on Flagler Street from downtown, then 3 blocks north on 15th Avenue. Be careful: This is in Little Havana, a high-crime neighborhood.

* Hard Rock Stadium. Probably best known under its original name, Joe Robbie Stadium, the Dolphins' home was named for their longtime owner, who had it built for them and for a hypothetical MLB team that became the Marlins. It's 15 miles north of downtown Miami, in a location that's been called, at various times, Miami, Miami Lakes, Miami Gardens, Carol City and Opa-Locka. Sounds like a bad variety show sketch.

The Stadium is between 199th and 203rd, and between the Turnpike and 27th Avenue, across 203rd and Snake Creek from Calder Race Course. The exact mailing address is 347 Don Shula Drive, for the coach who won the Dolphins' 2 titles and the record number of NFL coaching wins he has.

Public transportation there is a bit tricky. You'd have to take Metrorail from downtown to M.L. King Rail Station, then transfer to the Number 27 bus, riding that to NW 199th Street & NW 27th Court. And then you'd have to walk down 199th for about 15 minutes and turn into the parking lot. Not exactly ideal. (Somehow, I don't think a situation like this, especially with a transit station with his name on it, was part of Martin Luther King's dream. But he certainly would have approved of a racially mixed crowd watching racially mixed teams playing each other.)

The stadium has been home to the Dolphins since 1987; the Orange Bowl game in 1996, 1997, 1998 and since 2000; the University of Miami football team since 2008 (their games were the last thing the Orange Bowl stadium hosted before its demolition to make way for Marlins Park); the Marlins from 1993 to 2011; and the Champs Sports Bowl from 1990 to 2000.

It's hosted 5 Super Bowls: XXIII (1989, San Francisco 49ers over Cincinnati Bengals), XXIX (1995, 49ers over San Diego Chargers), XXXIII (1999, Denver Broncos over Atlanta Falcons), XLI (2007, Indianapolis Colts over Chicago Bears, and the only Super Bowl that's yet been rained on) and XLIV (2011, Packers over Steelers). It's been awarded Super Bowl LIV, currently scheduled for February 2, 2020.

It's also hosted 2 World Series: 1997, Marlins over Cleveland; and 2003, Marlins over, uh, let's move on. It hosted 4 BCS National Championship Games: 2001 (Oklahoma over Florida State), 2005 (USC over Oklahoma), 2009 (Florida over Oklahoma) and 2013 (Alabama over Notre Dame).

The stadium is also a premier U.S. soccer venue. On August 4, 1989, Arsenal returned to Miami, playing Argentine club Independiente at Joe Robbie, each team coming off winning its national league title. Arsenal won, 2-1, but only 10,042 fans came out to see it in the oppressive August Florida heat. (Perhaps this is why Arsenal did not play in North America again for 25 years, coming to Red Bull Arena in 2014 and visiting the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas this past Summer.) Other major club teams to play there include Mexico's Chivas of Guadalajara; England's Chelsea of London, Everton of Liverpool and Manchester United; Spain's Real Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia; and Italy's AC Milan, Internazionale and Juventus.

The U.S. national team has played there 4 times: A 1-0 loss to Colombia on April 22, 1990; a 1-1 draw with Bolivia on February 18, 1994; a 3-1 loss to Sweden on February 20, 1994; and a 1-0 win over Honduras on October 8, 2011.

* Comfort Inn. This hotel, across 36th Street from the airport, was the site of the Playhouse, once considered one of South Florida's finest banquet halls. It was here, on January 9, 3 days before the Super Bowl, at a dinner organized by the Miami Touchdown Club, that Joe Namath of the Jets was speaking, and some drunken Colts fan yelled out, "Hey, Namath! We're gonna kick your ass on Sunday!" And Joe said, "Let me tell you something: We got a good team. And we're gonna win. I guarantee it!" He was right.

NW 36th Street between Curtiss Parkway and Deer Run. MetroRail toward Palmetto, to Allapattah Station, then transfer to the 36 Bus.

* Site of Miami Stadium. Also known as Bobby Maduro Stadium, this was the home of the original Miami Marlins, of the Florida State League. Seating 13,000, it was known for its Art Deco entrance and a roof that shielded nearly the entire seating area, to protect fans from the intense Miami weather.

The FSL team that played here was known as the Sun Sox from 1949 to 1954, the Marlins from 1956 to 1960, the Marlins again 1962 to 1970, the Miami Orioles 1971 to 1981, and the Marlins again from 1982 to 1988. These teams won FSL Pennants in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1978 -- giving Miami 7 Pennants, counting those won by the NL Marlins.

Miami Stadium was the spring training home of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1950 to 1957, the Dodgers in their first season in Los Angeles in 1958 (it can be said that "the Los Angeles Dodgers" played their 1st game here, not in California), and the Baltimore Orioles from 1959 to 1990.

It was demolished in 2001, and The Miami Stadium Apartments were built on the site. 2301 NW 10th Avenue, off 23rd Street. It's just off I-95, and 8 blocks north and east from the Santa Clara MetroRail station.

* American Airlines Arena. The "Triple-A" has been the home of the NBA's Miami Heat since 2000, including their 2006, 2012 and 2013 NBA Championship seasons. 601 Biscayne Blvd. (U.S. Routes 1 & 41), between NE 6th and 8th Streets, across Port Blvd. from the Bayside Marketplace shopping center (not exactly their version of the South Street Seaport) and the Miami outlets of Hooters, the Hard Rock Café and Bubba Gump Shrimp. The closest rapid-rail station is Overtown, the same stop for the previous sports arena…

* Site of Miami Arena. This was the home of the Heat from 1988 to 1999, the NHL's Florida Panthers from 1993 to 1998, and the University of Miami basketball team from 1988 to 2003. When the Overtown race riot happened in January 16 to 18, 1989, in the week before Super Bowl XXIII, area residents took great pains to protect this arena from damage, and succeeded.

This building was demolished in 2008. Only 20 years? Apparently, like the multipurpose stadiums of the 1960s and '70s, and the Meadowlands Arena and the Nassau Coliseum, it served its purpose – getting teams to come in – and then quickly became inadequate. Grand Central Park, a public park, was built on the site. 701 Arena Blvd., between Miami Avenue, NW 1st Avenue, and 6th and 8th Streets. Overtown/Arena rail station.

* Sports Immortals Museum. This museum is in Boca Raton, at 6830 N. Federal Highway (Route 1), 50 miles north of downtown Miami. It's got a statue of Babe Ruth, and some memorabilia on display.  However, some people have reported that much of the memorabilia they sell has been judged to be fake by authenticators, so buyer beware. Theoretically, it's reachable by public transportation from Miami, but you'd need to take a bus to a train to a bus to a bus (32 to Tri-Rail to 70 to 1), and it would take about 3 hours. If you don't have the time to make for this, by car or otherwise, skip it.

* Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. For the last 30 or so years of his life, the Yankee Clipper lived in South Florida, and while he pretty much ignored his one and only child, son Joe Jr., he adored his grandchildren and children in general. He was a heavy donor to local hospitals, and the Children's Hospital named for him was established in 1992. There is now a statue of him there. 1005 Joe DiMaggio Drive, Hollywood. about 20 miles north of downtown Miami. 22 bus to Hollywood Tri-Rail station, then a mile's walk.

* Miami Beach Convention Center. Opened in 1957, it seats 15,000 people. The American Basketball Association's Miami Floridians played here from 1968 to 1972. The 1968 Republican Convention, and both major parties' Conventions in 1972, were held here. (The Republicans nominated Richard Nixon each time, and the Democrats nominated George McGovern.) Why? Simple: They wanted to be away from any city's downtown, putting water between themselves and wherever the hippies and another antiwar demonstrators were staying.

This building hosted the heavyweight title fights of 1961 (Floyd Patterson-Ingemar Johansson III, Floyd won) and 1964 (Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston I, Clay winning and then changing his name to Muhammad Ali). Just 9 days before Ali forced his "total eclipse of the Sonny," on February 16, 1964, the Beatles played their 2nd full-length U.S. concert here. They visited Ali at his Miami training center, and a famous photo was taken. Elvis Presley gave a pair of concerts here on September 12, 1970.
"Float like a butterfly, sing like a Beatle!"

Convention Center Drive between 17th Street and Dade Blvd. The Jackie Gleason Theater, where "The Great One" taped his 1960s version of The Jackie Gleason Show (including a now rarely-seen revival of The Honeymooners) is next-door. This, and any other Miami Beach location, can be reached via the 103, 113 or 119 Bus, or a car, over the MacArthur Causeway.

* Site of Coconut Grove Convention Center. This former Pan Am hangar, attached to the Dinner Key Marina in 1930, was used as a Naval Air Station, a convention center, a concert hall, a 6,900-seat sports arena (the Floridians played a few home games here), and as the indoor-scenes studio for the USA Network show Burn Notice.

It's also been known as the Dinner Key Auditorium. Under that name, on March 1, 1969, The Doors gave a concert here, and lead singer Jim Morrison supposedly committed an indecent act there. (Yeah, he told the crowd, "I'm from Florida! I went to Florida State! Then I got smart and moved to California!")

It was demolished in 2013, and a park is being built on the site. 2700 S. Bayshore Drive, at Pan American Drive & 27th Avenue, in the Coconut Grove section of town. Number 102 Bus to Number 48.

* Gusman Center for the Performing Arts. Formerly the Olympic Theater, Elvis sang here on August 3 and 4, 1956. 174 E. Flagler Street, downtown.

On March 26, 1960, Elvis taped a segment for The Frank Sinatra Timex Show, subtitled Welcome Home Elvis, in the ballroom of the Fontainebleau Hotel. It was his 1st TV appearance since his discharge from the Army 3 weeks earlier.

Frank was not initially a fan of Elvis, but his 2-year peacetime-but-Cold-War hitch for Uncle Sam -- further emphasized by the fact that an ear condition left Frank himself 4-F, meaning he didn't serve in World War II -- convinced a lot of grownups that he was all right after all, and Frank and his fellow Rat Packers were now happy to go along -- down to Frank's daughter, 15-year-old Nancy (6 years from becoming a star in her own right), being the first "name" he saw when he got off the plane.

Elvis sang both sides of his 1st post-service single, "Fame and Fortune" and the soon-to-be-Number 1 hit "Stuck On You." Then he sang Frank's "Witchcraft," and Frank sang his "Love Me Tender," and they closed the latter song together. They remained friends for the rest of Elvis' life.

The Fontainebleau, then as now, was the most famous hotel in Miami, in Florida, indeed in the entire Southern U.S. 4441 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach.

In addition to the preceding, Elvis sang in South Florida in Fort Myers at the City Auditorium on May 9 and July 25, 1955; in West Palm Beach at the Palms Theater on February 20, 1956 and the West Palm Beach Auditorium on February 13, 1977; and in Hollywood at the Sportatorium on February 12, 1977.

* Museums. Miami isn't a big museum city. There's the Miami Science Museum, at 3280 S. Miami Avenue (Vizcaya Station on Tri-Rail); the Miami Art Museum, at 101 W. Flagler Street (downtown); the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), at 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Museum Park station on Metromover; and the Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Science, at 3280 S. Miami Avenue, Vizcaya station on Metrorail.

* Colleges. The largest college in the area is, as you might have guessed, the University of Miami. Its new Donna E. Shalala Student Center, named for the former University President and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton, is at 1330 Miller Drive, about 7 miles southwest of downtown. University Station on Metrorail.

Florida International University is at 11200 SW 8th Street, 16 miles west of downtown. Its FIU Stadium, seating 23,500, is at 11310 SW 17th Street. Bus 8. It should not be confused with Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Its 30,000 FAU Stadium is at FAU Blvd. & N. University Drive. Tri-Rail to Boca Raton station. On October 14, 2014, the U.S. soccer team had a 1-1 draw with Honduras at FAU Stadium.

No President has ever been born in Florida, or grew up there, or even had his permanent residence there. Two men who served as Governor ran for the Democratic Party's nomination for the office, but neither came particularly close to the nomination: Reubin Askew (served 1971 to 1979) dropped out after the 1984 New Hampshire Primary, and Bob Graham (1979 to 1987, U.S. Senate 1987 to 2005) didn't even make it to calendar year 2004, much less the Iowa Caucuses.

Nevertheless, Miami has a key role in Presidential history. On February 15, 1933, President-elect Franklin Roosevelt and Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak were at a rally in Bayfront Park, when Giuseppe Zangara started shooting. FDR was not hit, but Cermak was, and he died on March 6, just 2 days after FDR was inaugurated. Bayfront Park station on Metromover.

More recently, the building where the votes for Dade County were supposed to be counted in the 2000 election was besieged by protesters, hired by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, so Miami was ground zero for the theft of the election by the George W. Bush campaign. The Stephen P. Clark Government Center, 111 NW 1st Street, downtown. Government Center station.

The Watsco Center, formerly the University of Miami Convocation Center, hosted a Presidential Debate between Bush and John Kerry in 2004. 1245 Dauer Drive, in Coral Gables. Tri-Rail to University. And Lynn University in Boca Raton hosted a Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012. 3601 N. Military Trail. Tri-Rail to Boca Raton, then Bus 2.

The Kennedy family had a compound in Palm Beach, but sold it in 1995. It's still in private hands, and not open to the public. Also in Palm Beach is the Mar-a-Lago Club, a hotel and members-only club built in 1927 by cereal company heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post. In 1985, it was bought by Donald Trump, and he's turned it into his "Southern White House," disgracing the nation there every other weekend. 1100 S. Ocean Blvd. Bus 1 from downtown West Palm Beach will get you to Dixie Highway & Southern Blvd. (U.S. Routes 1 & 98), but you'd have to walk almost 2 miles over Southern Blvd., across Lake Worth Lagoon and Bingham Island, to get to the sandbar on which Palm Beach sits.

There was a "Little White House" in Key West (111 Front Street), used by Harry Truman (and, to a lesser extent, his immediate successors Dwight D. Eisenhower and Kennedy), and it's open to tours. But that's a long way from Miami: 160 miles, with no public transportation between the 2 cities, and Greyhound charges $110 round-trip for a 4 1/2-hour ride.

* Movies & TV. Several TV shows have been set in Miami. A restaurant called Jimbo's Place was used to film scenes from Flipper and Miami Vice, and more recently CSI: Miami and Burn Notice. It's at 4201 Rickenbacker Causeway in Key Biscayne, accessible by the Causeway (by car) and the 102 Bus (by public transportation).

Greenwich Studios has been used to film Miami Vice, True Lies, There's Something About Mary and The Birdcage. It's at 16th Avenue between 121st and 123rd Streets, in North Miami, and often stands in for Miami Beach for the TV shows and movies for which it's used. 93 Bus.

If you're a fan of The Golden Girls, you won't find the house used for the exterior shots. It's actually in Los Angeles. The address mentioned on the show was 6151 Richmond Street, but that address doesn't exist in Miami. If you're a fan of those not-quite-golden girls, the Kardashian sisters, the penthouse they use to tape the Miami edition of their "reality show" is on Ocean Drive between 1st and 2nd Streets in Miami Beach. But I don't think they use it anymore, especially since Kourtney and Kim have since "taken New York."

For the moment, the tallest building in Miami, and in the entire State of Florida, is the brand-new 868-foot Panorama Tower, at 1101 Brickell Avenue. Tenth Street Promenade station on Metromover. And that won't last long as the tallest, since it will be surpassed in 2020 by the 1,005-foot One Bayfront Plaza, at 100 S. Biscayne Blvd. Bayfront Park station on Metromover.

The tallest of Miami's older buildings is the Freedom Tower, built in 1925 as the home of the now-defunct Miami News. It now houses Miami-Dade College and a Museum. 600 Biscayne Blvd., downtown, across from the American Airlines Arena. Freedom Tower station on Metromover.

*

You don't have to be old to be a New Yorker or a New Jerseyan in South Florida -- but it helps to be a sports fan. You should be able to enjoy yourself, especially since the Florida Panthers are a team the Devils should be able to beat.

Friday, February 23, 2018

How to Be a New York Basketball Fan In Sacramento -- 2018 Edition

The Brooklyn Nets will play away to the Sacramento Kings this coming Thursday night. The New York Knicks will do the same the following Sunday night.

Before You Go. Sacramento is 90 miles inland from San Francisco, so the city's notorious weird weather won't be a factor. The Sacramento Bee website is predicting low 50s for Thursday afternoon, and low 30s for the evening, with rain; and low 60s for Sunday afternoon, and low 40s for the evening. You won't need a jacket before the game, but you'll definitely need one for after.

Sacramento is in the Pacific Time Zone, which is 3 hours behind us. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. Once a guaranteed sellout of 17,317 fans per game, every game, the Kings fell off significantly. However, with their improvement and their new arena, their per-game attendance is now 17,541, a sellout. Tickets may be hard to come by.

But Kings tickets are among the cheapest in the NBA. In the lower level, the 100 sections, they're $102 between the baskets and $65 behind them. In the upper level, the 200 sections, they're $29 and $15.

Getting There. It's 2,824 miles from Times Square to downtown Sacramento. Unless you want to spend 41 hours, plus rest stops making it more like 48 hours, each way, on Interstate 80 (getting off at Interstate 5 and taking that south to downtown), or take an even longer-time trip on Amtrak, you're flying. You should be able to get a flight for under $800, but it won't be nonstop: You'll have to change planes each way, in Denver, Dallas or Phoenix.

If you board Greyhound at Port Authority by 5:00 PM on Monday, you'll get to Sacramento at 5:45 PM local time on Thursday, which will be in time to get to the game. It's $646 round-trip, but, depending on when you leave, it can be reduced to $488 on advanced purchase. The Greyhound station is at 420 Richards Blvd. at 7th Street. Walking 2 blocks east on Richards will take you to the Township 9 station on the Light Rail Green Line, and from there it's 1 stop to downtown, including the new arena.

To get there in time via Amtrak, you'd have to take the Lake Shore Limited out of Penn Station at 3:40 PM on Sunday, get to Union Station in Chicago at 9:45 AM on Monday, switch to the California Zephyr at 2:00 PM, and arrive in Sacramento at 2:13 PM on Thursday. Then you'd have to leave Sacramento at 11:09 in the morning on Friday, and arrive back in New York at 6:23 PM on Monday. For some reason, it's really expensive this time: Round-trip fare is $1,009. The Amtrak station is at 4th & I Streets.

Once In the City. Founded in 1850, and the capital of the State of California since 1854 (Monterey had been the capital when California was ruled by Spain and Mexico), Sacramento is home to a little over 500,000 people, and growing.
The metropolitan area is home to 2.6 million people, ranking it 23rd out of the NBA's 30 markets, and larger than older NBA markets like Indianapolis, San Antonio, Milwaukee and Salt Lake City.
The California State House

Sacramento still tries to retain a small-town feel, and to resist its connections to far-out places like San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Hollywood and Venice Beach. Or, as Nancy Reagan said when her husband was working there as Governor (1967-74), "Sacramento is not in California."
The Sacramento River divides street addresses into east and west, and the railroad does so into north and south. The Sacramento Regional Travel District runs buses and a light-rail system. A single fare is $2.50, while a daily pass is $6.00.
The sales tax in the State of California is 7.5 percent, in the County of Sacramento 8 percent, and in the City of Sacramento 8.5 percent. ZIP Codes in Sacramento start with the digits 942, 956, 957 and 958; and the Area Code is 916.

Going In. The 17,500-seat Golden 1 Center opened for the 2016-17 season. The official address is 500 David J. Stern Walk (named for the former NBA Commissioner). It is in the Downtown Commons and Capitol Mall area, bounded by J Street to the north, 6th Street to the east, L Street to the south and 5th Street to the west. Parking is $11.
Not quite as weird-looking as the Nets' Barclays Center,
but pretty weird.

Golden 1 Credit Union bought the naming rights. Like Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, it has big windows, allowing fans to see out, which is a novelty in the NBA. The court is aligned north-to-south (more or less).
It's already hosted a WWE event and a UFC event, and concerts by Paul McCartney, Maroon 5, Pentatonix, Jimmy Buffett and Kanye West. This March, it will host the California high school basketball State Championships, NCAA Tournament games, and concerts by Blake Shelton and Ariana Grande.

Food. The new arena quickly got rave reviews for its food. And the theme is buy local: A recent Sacramento Bee article says:

Its stalls are not anonymous hot-dog huts but brand extensions of Paragary's, Selland's, Mulvaney's, Star Ginger and other popular local restaurants that have licensed their names and recipes to concessions giant Legends Hospitality...
We enter the arena at 5:30 p.m., just as Kings fans are starting to trickle in. We hit Selland's Market-Cafe first, because it's so close to the entrance and because Tuohy had told us earlier that pizza from Selland's and Paragary's were top sellers at previous arena events... 
Next we hit Cafe Bernardo Burgers & Shakes, for a $14 bacon habanero burger. Though the patty is slimmer than what we have had at other Bernardos, the meat holds a similar, and welcome, peppery taste. The sandwich comes with more smoky bacon than one expects to get at an arena, and noticeably fresh lettuce and tomato.
Near the condiment station, at the edge of the main concourse, we spot the dapper figure of Randy Paragary, looking out onto the court and seating areas below. Though not precisely the king of all he surveys, Paragary has more of his brands on Golden 1 stands than any other local restaurateur – two Bernardos, two Paragary's pizza places and a Centro street-taco spot.
Paragary says he and corporate executive chef Kurt Spataro have come to every arena event so far, tweaking ingredients and fine-tuning the preparation process. Centro started with the staff adding salsa to tacos, but that process proved too time-consuming. Now there's a salsa bar that also includes cilantro, chopped onion and cotija cheese...
Whereas the same items repeated at most stands at Sleep Train, Golden 1 offers 82 distinct menu items, Tuohy said. They include a well-executed $12 chicken banh mi, its French roll crunchy and its marinated vegetables crisp, at the Star Ginger stand...
We try Porchetta House, a rotisserie spot named after a specialty of Tuohy, former chef at Sacramento's Grange and LowBrau. The porchetta sandwich marries tender, expertly seasoned pork roast from Chico's Rancho Llano Seco with a substantial yet airy bun and is as good as anything we ever have tried at any sports venue.
The $12 "carnitas nachos" and $13 "loaded bacon cheese dog" served at another in-house spot, El Jefe, disappoint. The nachos feature Petaluma Creamery cheese and chunky, very fresh guacamole, but lack snap. The dog, covered in the same rich yet bland-tasting cheese sauce, makes a mess of your face when you bite into it...
It was a fitting cap to a night that never required us to make that other kind of concession so common to eating at sports venues. The one in which you settle for an arena hot dog or pizza slice because you lacked the time to grab a bite elsewhere before a game. Golden 1 Center is a legitimate dinner option.
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/food-drink/restaurants/article108066327.html#storylink=cpy
Team History Displays. The Kings have a complicated history. They are the oldest franchise in the NBA (even if you count the Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State Warriors as the direct successor to the Philadelphia SPHAs), yet they have gone longer without winning a title than any other team, and their last title was 3 cities ago.

They began in 1923 -- at which point, there were only 16 current MLB franchises, 3 from the NFL, and 2 from the NHL -- as the Rochester Pros. At some point, they became the Rochester Royals, winning the championship of the Midwest-based National Basketball League in 1945. In 1948, they moved to the fledgling NBA (known for 1 more season as the Basketball Association of America), and in 1951 won the NBA Championship. That's 65 years, and they haven't even been back to the Finals since. (It's also, unless you count the 1955 NBA Champion Syracuse Nationals, the last time a team from Western New York won a World Championship.)

But, as with Syracuse and Fort Wayne, Rochester was not big enough to support a truly major league team (though their Red Wings baseball team and Americans hockey team are minor-league legends). So, in 1957, they moved, becoming the Cincinnati Royals. The closest they got to a title in Cincy was the 1963 and 1964 Eastern Division Finals.

In 1972, they moved to become the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. (They couldn't remain the Royals because Kansas City already had a baseball team with that name, and they didn't want to double-up like the NFL's Chicago Cardinals did upon moving to St. Louis.) After 3 years dividing between K.C. and their status as the only major league team the State of Nebraska has ever known, they played all home games in Kansas City from 1975 to 1985, but didn't like their arena deal, and moved to Sacramento in 1985. Until the Golden 1 Center deal was cut in 2014, their threats to move to Anaheim and Seattle were very real.

The Kings hang a banner for the Rochester Royals' NBA title of 1951, and also for their Division titles from 1979 (Kansas City), 2002 and 2003. The Kings reached the Western Conference Finals in Kansas City in 1981 and in Sacramento in 2002 -- in the latter, combining an epic choke against the Los Angeles Lakers with an equally epic screwing-over by the referees. (Ironically, it was Mitch Richmond, arguably the greatest player in Sacramento Kings history, who dribbled out the clock for the Lakers.) For this reason, the Lakers, not the much-closer Golden State Warriors, will remain the Kings' arch-rivals.
Most of the Northern California sports teams don't honor retired numbers from their previous cities. The San Francisco Giants do it for New York, but neither the Oakland Athletics nor the Warriors do it for Philadelphia (Wilt Chamberlain, who moved with them to the West Coast, is an exception), and the Raiders don't retire numbers at all, for Oakland or Los Angeles.

The Kings do. It makes sense that the NBA's oldest franchise would have so many retired numbers; in their case, 11. Number 11, guard Bob Davies, and Number 12, forward Maurice Stokes, played for them as the Rochester Royals. Number 14, guard Oscar Robertson, and Number 27, forward Jack Twyman, are honored for their time with the Cincinnati Royals. (Number 16, forward Jerry Lucas, has not been so honored, despite having been named to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

From the Kansas City Kings period, they honor Number 1, guard Nate "Tiny" Archibald, and Number 44, center Sam Lacey. And despite having had only 1 close call in their 31 years in Sacramento (2002), they have honored 4 players from this period: Number 2, guard Mitch Richmond; Number 4, forward Chris Webber; Number 16, forward Predrag "Peja" Stojaković; and Number 21, center Vlade Divac. The 2 Serbs are now both working in the team's front office.

And the Kings have recognized a long sellout streak that began with their arrival in 1985 and extended into their current Playoff drought (they haven't made it since 2006) by retiring Number 6 for the fans, "The Sixth Man."

The banners show the style of uniforms the players were wearing at the time, and the numbers go in reverse chronological order, from left to right: Stojakovic, Divac, Sixth Man, Richmond, Lacey, Archibald, Roertson, Twyman, Stokes, Davies.
In the Basketball Hall of Fame, Rochester is represented by Davies, Stokes, Arnie Risen, Bobby Wanzer, and coach Al Cervi; Cincinnati by Robertson, Twyman and Lucas; Kansas City by Archibald; and Sacramento by Richmond.

Davies was named to the NBA's 25th Anniversary Team in 1971. Robertson was named to the NBA's 35th Anniversary Team in 1980. Robertson, Lucas and Archibald were named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players.

The Monarchs won the WNBA title in 2005 and reached the Finals again in 2006. They have banners honoring general manager Jerry Reynolds, who previously worked in the Kings' front office, was their interim head coach in 1987 and official head coach from 1988 to 1990; and Number 6, Ruthie Bolton. Despite the team having been folded, their banners are still in the rafters.

Bolton was not named to the WNBA's 15th Anniversary 15 Greatest Players in 2012, or to the WNBA Top 20 at 20 in 2016 -- in the 20th Season, rather than at the 20th Anniversary -- but Yolanda Griffith and Ticha Penicheiro were named to both all-time teams.
It seems odd to leave up retired number banners 
for a team that no longer exists. 
Who's going to wear the numbers,
 now that there's no team to issue them?

Stuff. The Kings have Official Kings Stores at the north end of the arena, at the Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento, and at the Westfield Galleria in Roseville.

Having had such a disjointed history, there are no official NBA videos about the Kings, but there are some good books about them. Zach Wyner wrote the Kings' edition of the NBA's On the Hardwood series. In 2005, Jerry Reynolds wrote a book about his 20 years of experiences with the Kings called Reynolds Remembers: Tales from the Sacramento Kings. And Jason Coldiron wrote of the now-successful struggle to save what is, for the moment, the only major league sports team in the area: Saving Sacramento: A Story of Fans, Sports & Politics.

During the Game. A November 13, 2014 article on DailyRotoHelp ranked the NBA teams' fan bases, and listed the Kings at 11th. The author said, "I still can't believe how many people come out and support the Kings. They somehow have a loyal fan base come out to games who are fully aware this team isn't even coming close to contending in the next 5 years. They are there day and night without complaint." Well, the big reason is that the Kings are all they've got: No pro football, lost their WNBA team, nearest pro hockey team is in Stockton, Triple-A in baseball, 3rd division in soccer.

While Sacramento, like most large California cities, has developed a problem with gang violence, the Golden 1 Center is downtown, with a large police presence. Kings fans will not treat Knicks or Nets fans with the same kind of contempt that they have for Laker fans. You (and, if you drove in, your car) will be safe.

Neither of the upcoming games, against either the Nets or the Knick, will feature a promotion.

Naturally, given their royal name, the King's mascot is a "king of the jungle," a lion named Slamson. (A play on "Samson" and "slam dunk.") Not only do the Kings hold auditions for singing the National Anthem instead of having a regular singer, but, with a purchase of 75 tickets and "performance approval," a group may sing it together. Their theme song is "Kings of the Court." But the biggest fan chant is, "SAC-ra-MEN-to! (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)." At least they're cheering for their city, as much as for their team.
Slamson the Lion

After the Game. Win or lose, Kings fans will not bother you. Your safety will not be an issue. But if you came by public transportation, your best bet for a postgame meal will be to take the bus back downtown. If you drove, there are nearby options, although none that is a place where New York sports fans are known to gather.

With the Downtown Commons Mall being rebuilt alongside the Golden 1 Center (which was essentially built on the site of the previous mall), postgame dining options are currently limited. To the north: Perko's Farm Fresh Cafe is at 925 3rd Street, Lotus Thai Cuisine is at 425 J Street, Subway stores are at 428 and 731 J Street, Cilantro's Mexican Restaurant is at 705 J Street, La Bonne Soupe Cafe is at 920 8th Street, and a Starbucks is at 980 9th Street.

To the south: Il Fornaio Sacramento, an Italian restaurant, is at 400 Capitol Mall; Morton's The Steakhouse, if you feel like spending as much for your dinner as you did on your game ticket, is at 621 Capitol Mall; The Foundation Restaurant & Bar is at 400 L Street, and Frank Fat's, a Chinese restaurant, is at 806 L Street.

There's a lot more places to the west, along the riverfront, but you'll have to go under the elevated Interstate 5 to get there.

Pete's Restaurant & Brewhouse is supposedly a bar for fans of the football Giants. 2001 J Street, downtown. The Limelight Cardroom, also downtown, is supposedly a home for Jet fans. 1014 Alhambra Blvd. at J Street.

If your visit to Sacramento is during the European soccer season, which is currently underway, the California capital's top "football pub" is de Vere's Irish Pub, at 1521 L Street, 5 blocks east of the State House.

Sidelights. Aside from the Kings -- and a State government that might make California 1 of the 10 strongest nations in the world all by itself -- Sacramento is a minor-league town.

When the Kings arrived in 1985, a temporary arena was built, seating only 10,333, the smallest in the NBA at the time. Like its successor originally was, it was named the ARCO Arena, but was nicknamed the Madhouse on Market.
It was only meant to be a stopgap facility, never a special place. But it still stands, may end up outliving its successor, and, as the 1st major league sports building in the metro area, it is a special place. It now houses the California Department of Consumer Affairs. 1625 N. Market Blvd. at Sports Drive, about 7 miles north of downtown. Bus 88.

The 2nd ARCO Arena, which became the Power Balance Pavilion and is now the Sleep Train Arena, amed for a bedding store chain, was built n 1988. It has an address of One Sports Parkway. It's 5 miles north of downtown. Take the Number 11 bus to Truxel Road & Terracina Drive, and then a 15-minute walk west on Terracina, down "E Entrance."
No, that's not any kind of racetrack to the left.

The arena has hosted NCAA Tournament games, and is one of the leading West Coast sites for Ultimate Fighting. From 1997 until they folded in 2009, it was home to the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs. (Why not "Queens" to go with "Kings"? Does "Monarchs" sound like they have more power? Or did they not use "Queens" because they were afraid of gay jokes?) There has been talk of reviving the Monarchs for the new arena.

The Sacramento River Cats, now a San Francisco Giants farm team, play at Raley Field, named for a locally-headquartered supermarket chain. It opened in 2000 with 10,624 seats. Counting lawn seating, they can have over 14,000 fans in the place, which is big for the minors, even Triple-A.
They led the minor leagues in attendance in each of their 1st 8 seasons in Raley, got rated as the most valuable minor-league franchise by Forbes magazine in 2012, and have won 4 Pennants since moving in: 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008.
But if Sacramento ever wants to lure an established MLB team, or get an expansion team, there is room to add outfield seating, but they'd also have to add a 2nd deck to the main grandstand to get the number of seats above 35,000. This seems unlikely. 400 Ballpark Drive at 5th Street, West Sacramento, just over Tower Bridge and the Sacramento River from downtown.
The old PCL team, the Sacramento Solons, was not particularly successful. They played from 1909 to 1976, and won Pennants only in 1938 and 1939. From 1910 to 1960, they played at Edmonds Field. It was located at the southeast corner of Broadway and Riverside Blvd. Demolished in 1964, a Target store currently occupies its footprint, and there is a plaque in the parking lot where home plate once sat. Bus 51.
According to an April 23, 2014 article in The New York Times, the San Francisco Giants (86 miles away) are way ahead of the Oakland Athletics (87 miles away) when it comes to baseball popularity in Sacramento, averaging 55 percent of local fandom to around 12 percent for the A's. Considering that the Coliseum is on the same side of the Bay (but actually further away, now that the Giants have moved from Candlestick Park to downtown), and that the A's had so much more success prior to the Giants' current run of glory that began in 2010, the A's should have a much higher percentage than they do.

Charles C. Hughes Stadium, named for a school superintendent, opened in 1928, and seats 20,311. It hosts Sacramento City College football and high school football, hosted the Camellia Bowl from 1961 to 1980, and hosted a revival of the Sacramento Solons from 1974 to 1976, despite having a left field fence that was way too short. In 2014, it briefly hosted Sacramento Republic FC, a team in the United Soccer League, the 3rd tier of American soccer.
Hornet Stadium, built in 1969, seats 21,195, and has hosted California State University at Sacramento (a.k.a. "Sacramento State") football since it opened. It also hosted the Sacramento Surge of the short-lived World League of American Football in 1992, and the Sacramento Gold Miners in 1993 and 1994, in the Canadian Football League's desultory excursion into the U.S. market.
Stadium Drive and College Town Drive, although its mailing address is 6000 J Street. Gold Line light rail to University/65th Street Station.

According to a September 5, 2014 article in The Atlantic, the San Francisco 49ers are easily the most popular NFL team in the Sacramento area, even though the Oakland Coliseum is a little closer to Sacramento than Candlestick Park was (87 miles to 91 -- Levi's Stadium is 114 miles away). The closest NHL team is the San Jose Sharks (120 miles).

The aforementioned Sacramento Republic FC, with the USL now considered American soccer's 2nd division, play at Bonney Field. Built in 2014 and seating 11,442, it's just fine for lower-division soccer, but "The Quails" will need a larger stadium if they're to get promoted to Major League Soccer.
1600 Exposition Blvd., about 4 miles northeast of downtown, next to Raging Waters theme park. Bus 68. Presuming that this is the closest Sacramento will ever get to MLS, as now seems likely, the closest current MLS team is the San Jose Earthquakes (117 miles).

Major college football and basketball isn't all that close, either: If you live in or around Sacramento, and you don't want to go to games at Sac State, you're out of luck: Cal-Davis is 15 miles west, but it's FCS (formerly known as Division I-AA); and the University of the Pacific is 47 miles to the south, so you might as well go the distance to the Bay Area, all the way to Cal (79 miles) or Stanford (126 miles).

With its relatively low metropolitan population, Sacramento would rank 28th among MLB markets (ahead of only Kansas City, Cincinnati and Milwaukee), 25th in the NFL, and 22nd in the NHL.

The best-known museum in Sacramento is the California State Capitol Museum, under the dome at 1315 10th Street. The Crocker Art Museum is at 2nd & O Streets. The only Presidentially-related site in the area is the Governor's Mansion, where Ronald Reagan lived during his 1967-1974 Governorship. It's a State Historic Park, at 1526 H Street downtown. The tallest building in town is the Wells Fargo Center (same name as the Philadelphia arena currently has), 429 feet high, at Capitol Mall & 4th Street.

Elvis Presley never performed in Sacramento. Neither did the Beatles. Johnny Cash did, although his best-known concert in the Sacramento area was 25 miles to the northeast, at Folsom State Prison, namesake of his song "Folsom Prison Blues," on January 13, 1968. I wouldn't recommend going there (as a visitor or otherwise), but if you're that big of a fan of The Man In Black, it's at 300 Prison Road.

It is reachable by public transit, sort of: Take the Gold Line light rail from Sacramento Valley station to Glenn station, nearly an hour; then transfer to Bus 30, to Natoma Street & Wales Drive, and then it's a 20-minute walk up Natoma Street and Prison Road. (That other California prison he's famous for having recorded a live album at, San Quentin, on February 24, 1969, is in Marin County, about 20 miles north of downtown San Francisco.)

The best-known TV shows set in Sacramento have been the late 1970s, early 1980s ABC comedy-drama Eight Is Enough, and the recent CBS crime drama The Mentalist. There haven't been many movies set or filmed there. Those that were include Clint Eastwood's 1989 Pink Cadillac, The Al Pacino & Michelle Pfeiffer movie Frankie & Johnny, John Travolta's Phenomenon, Kurt Russell's Breakdown, and Almost Famous, the film that made Cameron Crowe and Kate Hudson more than that.

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Sacramento is a bigger city than it seems to be, but not as big a city as it would like to be. If you're an NBA fan, and have to cross all 30 teams off your list, this should be a good guide for you.