Thursday, March 5, 2009
Columbus 09 - road trip blues
You would think that a road trip to Columbus, Ohio would be a simple thing. Buy a ticket. Book a hotel room. Drive for 7 hours. Watch for state troopers on the interstates. Buy a beer and a hot dog. Watch a game. Grab a meal. Sleep in your hotel. Drive home for 7 hours. Done.
As your plan unfolds complications start popping up. I think it is because we fans need training camps too. You're dusty and rusty. Different fans warm up at different rates and it takes a while to develop that team chemistry. I am traveling with a larger group than last year and blending together the veterans and the rookies is both an art and a science.
First the tickets. My TFC rep gave me the name and number of his equivalent in Columbus last year. This Crew contact has been great to me, easy to reach by phone or email. The Columbus front office had some delays with their tickets this year. The fact that their stadium hosted a US-Mexico World Cup qualifier in February was the probable cause. Yet, I was informed of the delay and might even have had my tickets before they were on sale for the general public in Ohio. They are a pleasure to deal with.
Why do I buy direct ? I am a huge fan of the Red Patch Boys and the USector and visit their respective forums on a daily basis. TFC would not be TFC without them, but I prefer to sit apart. When you don't sit with them at home would'nt you feel akin to a gate-crasher if you tried to join the ranks just for a road game? I think it reflects well on the support of Toronto FC that groups large and small are wearing red in Columbus. Besides, those upper deck sideline section seats that are designated for Toronto fans are closer to what I am used to at BMO.
Hotels. A little information can contribute to a lot of second guessing. I delegated the hotel decision to my fellow fan, Trout FC. We had talked about the feedback from my blog post (thanks to those with suggestions) and spent time hunting for hotels online. Trout FC was able to book rooms at the Sheraton Suites for what seemed a good rate. Folks have suggested using either Hotwire or Priceline as ways to bid on hotel rooms. Maybe it is a reflection of the struggling economy, but I am getting daily emails from Hotwire with news of more hotels in the Columbus area willing to offer me a lower price. There are others who swear by Priceline. You don't know until you book what hotel you have, but you do control the star ratings and the area. I have heard of fans getting much better rates at my hotel through Priceline. At the time I was checking out Priceline we did not know how many were traveling with us. When we knew our traveling number I think we were so elated that we had rooms at a better than rate than on their website, we took 'em. Next time Priceline will be the way to go.