A stated goal of mine since adolescence — and, indeed, the reason why I started Itinerant Fan in the first place — was to aid in my quest to visit every current stadium in the four major U.S. sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL).
It’s a pursuit that usually takes folks many years. I’ve been at it for more than 20 years and still have not completed it.
But I’m getting close to becoming a member of what a fellow sports travel blogger has dubbed “Club 124” — the number signifies the total of teams across the four sports leagues.
If I squint hard enough, I can see the finish line. And I’ve ramped up my efforts over the last couple years to get ever closer.
Motivated quite a bit by the pandemic and the lost time it caused, I set about in mid-2021 to focus my sports travel efforts on getting to as many new venues as I could knock off in a reasonable manner.
My first post-pandemic trip closed a circle: By watching a game at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, I again finished my list of the 30 current major-league ballparks (remember, the Rangers opened their new park in 2020 when fans were mostly barred from attending games).
I’ve made several strategic trips over the nearly two years since in an effort to visit new stadiums in an efficient manner.
As of this writing in April 2023, I have seen a home game for 109 out of the 124 teams in MLB/NFL/NBA/NHL. The big news is, I’ve now completed two leagues! I completed the NHL circuit this season by visiting my last remaining arena, Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota.
I won’t be joining Club 124 in the next year — at least not as long as I want to keep my day job and my family — but two years is now looking like a realistic possibility!
So here’s an update on my status at the moment. I’ll be waiting with bated breath for the 2023 NFL and NBA schedules to come out, because I have some ideas for regional trips I can take that will knock out two, three or even four venues in one journey.
Note: For my own purposes, I do not count a team unless I specifically see it in a home game at its stadium. For example, I have now been to several Chargers games at SoFi Stadium, but I will not count the Rams until I see a Rams game there.
Also, if the whole idea of Club 124 intrigues you, check out the site of the man who coined the term, Sean MacDonald.
Completed: ARI, ATL, BAL, BOS, CHC, CHW, CIN, CLE, COL, DET, HOU, KC, LAA, LAD, MIA, MIL, MIN, NYM, NYY, OAK, PHI, PIT, SEA, SD, SF, STL, TB, TEX, TOR, WAS
I first reached 30-for-30 status in MLB in 2015, and since then have tried to fill in new ballparks (in Atlanta and Texas) as soon as I could after they opened. The A’s are probably next in line for a new ballpark, so I’ll be at the ready whenever they build a new place in Oakland, Las Vegas or wherever they might end up.
In the meantime, there are a few MLB ballparks that I haven’t visited in the last 10 years — Detroit, Baltimore and Toronto come to mind — so I’ll be focusing my MLB efforts in the next year or two on visiting those sites for a refresher.
Completed: ARI, BAL, BUF, CAR, CHI, CIN, DAL, DEN, DET, GB, HOU, IND, LAC, LV, MIN, NE, NO, NYJ, PHI, PIT, SEA, TB, TEN, WAS
Remaining: ATL, CLE, JAX, KC, LAR, MIA, NYG, SF
The NFL, of course, is the toughest league to cover every stadium for because there are so few games each year compared to the other leagues, plus it’s difficult to get to more than one game in a single trip. But I did get a little bit closer by visiting two new stadiums during the 2022 season, in Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
Next season, I’ll definitely try to knock off low-hanging fruit in the Rams and 49ers, close to my home in L.A. The rest of the stadiums left on my list are sort of scattered about the country, so I most likely will have to split them up over the next two seasons.
Completed: ATL, BKN, BOS, CHA, CHI, DEN, GS, HOU, IND, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NO, NYK, OKC, PHI, PHX, POR, SA, SAC, TOR, UTA
Remaining: CLE, DAL, DET, LAC, LAL, ORL, WAS
I’ll admit that of the four leagues, the NBA is the lowest priority for me — thus it has the lowest number at the moment. But I’ve always been intrigued by the NBA’s unique challenge of traveling to markets not represented in the other leagues, and visits to places like Oklahoma City and San Antonio have been some of my favorite sports travel journeys in recent years.
I was able to add three new arenas in recent months: State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Spectrum Center in Charlotte and Target Center in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, two very easy ones for me — the Lakers and Clippers at Crypto.com Arena — remain there for the taking, if I can only motivate myself to do so.
Completed: ANA, ARI, BOS, BUF, CAR, CGY, CHI, CLB, COL, DAL, DET, EDM, FLA, LA, MIN, MTL, NSH, NJ, NYI, NYR, OTT, PHI, PIT, SJ, SEA, STL, TB, TOR, VAN, VGK, WAS, WPG
Hockey is hands-down my favorite sport, so it’s no surprise that this is the second league that I’ve completed!
I entered the season with four arenas left, and over the course of this past regular season I made visiting them all a priority. I got a chance to see Arizona’s Mullett Arena in December, followed by Carolina’s PNC Arena and Tampa Bay’s Amalie Arena in February before visiting Xcel Energy Center just a couple weeks ago.
And while it’s nice to see lists get completed, the accomplishment just makes me want to renew the thrill of the pursuit. I’m looking forward to hitting the road again soon.