Summer 2015–Ground Hopping

Due to changes in life, namely geography and finances, I scaled back on my MLS stadium tour. After several interactions with fellow groundhoppers, I decided to check out lower league grounds in the Southeast.

First up was Charleston. For Memorial Day, the family headed to South Carolina to visit with friends and I made sure there was a Charleston Battery home game that weekend as well. My son and I headed to Blackbaud Stadium and met with Queen Anne’s Revenge and the Regiment for the tailgate. We played a quick game of FIFA 15 and then joined the group for the stadium tour.

battery 4

What an amazing experience. The President of the Charleston Battery led us through the facility, pointing out items in a priceless collection of jerseys, pennants, programs, programs and more. I was in #KitNerd heaven. I didn’t get to see the Manchester United suite and it’s probably better because I may have not left without a police escort.

battery 3

We back to the tailgate and checked out the wonderful spread put out by the Regiment. Pre-game festivities were wrapped up with a march and taking our places in Section E1. During the match, there was this kid leading the cheers, and it was awesome seeing the supporter culture passed down the generations.

battery 2

The quality of the match wasn’t spectacular, although the opening goal from the Battery was well crafted. Charlotte equalized with a dodgy penalty and after that chances were few and far between. The USL match ended in a 1-1 draw.

battery 1

The ground itself is well designed with two stands, with one for the press box and suites and box seats and the other a stand of bleachers. Each end is open and allows for different activities, food and walking areas.

Next up was Nashville, TN. Took a Greyhound to the match. Figured why spend four hours in a car by myself just listening to music and podcasts when I could get stuff done? Did some writing and blog work and watched a movie on the way. The bus was 45 minutes late leaving, which I’m learning is par for the course on these trips.

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Once I got into the Music City I walked to Vanderbilt Stadium. Mild misfire on my part. A three mile hike in 90 degree heat was not one of my best decisions. I walked up to the gate just before kickoff and was met with a ticket line out to the street. I finally got in, bought my scarf and took a seat.

sb reserves

(photo courtesy of Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves)

The match rewarded me for my efforts. Nashville opened the scoring as their right winger torched the Reserves left back. But almost immediately from the kickoff Janny Rivera hit a 30+ yard bomb that crashed the underside of the crossbar and in. A real thunderbastard of a goal. The teams traded goals in the second half, and as the clock clicked closer to full time, Santos Ramirez popped up with a header to secure the vital points. Jubilation from the visitors as they headed back to Atlanta.

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My next trip was a virtual home game as the Reserves met the Georgia Revolution. The Revolution play at the Rockdale Youth Soccer Association complex in Conyers,GA, a little bit of a hike for me, especially in traffic. Several heavy thunderstorms through the day had made the pitch quite soggy, with several areas of standing water. Both teams had trouble finding their rhythm and the first half was a disjointed, scrappy affair. The second half was scintillating. A mistake by the Revolution left back allowed the Reserves winger in and his cross was met at the back post. The hosts responded quickly and then took the lead with grass cutter free kick. The Reserves levelled after some cool nerves in the penalty area. The visitors pushed on for the win but the Revolution won the day as a free kick was flicked on to the far post and knocked home.

I’m hoping to make one more trip this fall, but follow these guys on twitter or search #Groundhopping to read insightful trips from around Europe:

  • Alex Baker (@alexpieter)
  • Peter Miles (@PeterRMiles)
  • Groundhopper (@Groundhopping1)

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Check out more posts on my trips, research and memories on the MatchDay Memories page.

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  1. You should try to make it out to KC. They have a wonderful soccer specific stadium — 18,000+ seats, almost always fun, great atmosphere!

    • Absolutely. Can’t wait to see the Blue Cauldron. 3 years ago I started a project to visit all MLS stadia (check out posts on MatchDay Memory page). Life circumstances changed so now I’m adding lower league grounds as well. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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