Results tagged ‘ Charlotte Knights ’

Road Trip Report: Gwinnett & Charlotte (Part 1)

Welcome to the first edition of Road Trip Report, my new regular feature with dispatches from the Chiefs’ road trips. I’ll be posting photos and thoughts from the league’s other cities to give folks a feel for life away from Syracuse. First up: last week’s seven-game road trip to Gwinnett and Charlotte.

Life on the road isn’t always glamorous. Case in point: last Monday morning’s travel itinerary.



7 a.m. flight = 5 a.m. bus = 4 a.m. wake-up. And all I had to do on Monday night was talk. There’s no hope of simply rolling out of bed in sweatpants and hopping on a flight, either – the Nationals have mandated sport coats and slacks for the team as a travel dress code.

Our hotel at Gwinnett (quick side note: it’s at Gwinnett, not in Gwinnett – we’re technically in Lawrenceville, GA, in Gwinnett County) is a Courtyard by Marriott, with a tremendous walking and wildlife trail (complete with random bridge) down a staircase right next to the hotel – perfect for an hour-long walk on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.

IMG_1657        IMG_1656        IMG_1658

I’m not normally a big chain-restaurant aficionado, but I make a pair of exceptions in Lawrenceville. The first: Chick-Fil-A…not even so much for the food, but for the heavenly Polynesian, Chick-Fil-A and Honey Roasted Barbecue sauces. (I tried to smuggle Polynesian sauce back from Georgia last year in my suitcase. The result was a bit stickier than I had intended.) I asked our hotel shuttle driver to take me to Chick-Fil-A in the mall, which is around a mile away. On the way there, we passed a new Chick-Fil-A. I went to the new one each of the following two days.

The second is Mimi’s Cafe, a mostly western and southern restaurant chain. I have no idea how the lunch or dinner is, but the cinnamon roll French toast is quite delectable:

Amazingly enough, this is only the third-best French toast in the league. Just wait until the Indianapolis and Pawtucket reports.

Amazingly enough, this is only the third-best French toast in the league at best. Just wait until the Indianapolis and Pawtucket reports.

Gwinnett’s Coolray Field is in its seventh year of existence this year, but it has a brand-new view behind the center and right-field walls: an apartment complex known as The Views at Coolray Field. As far as stadium backdrops go, it’s no Charlotte (more on that in a second), but it sure beats “nothing”.


You can watch the game for free from about 40% of these apartments. And by “free”, I mean “the low, low price of an apartment, which averages about $1,500 a month in rent here at Coolray Field, but hey, there are two Chick-Fil-As right down the road, so what are you complaining about?”

After four games at Gwinnett, we hopped on a bus around 2 p.m. Thursday and headed to Charlotte – one of the jewels of the league. This was my first time making the trip to Charlotte since the Knights moved from Fort Mill, South Carolina to the actual city in which their name states they exist. Weird, right? That’s like if the New York Giants played in, oh, New Jersey. Wouldn’t make a lick of sense!

I did something Thursday that I otherwise never want to do – I went to a non-Chiefs baseball game. Some people around the game and in this profession can’t get enough of baseball. I have more than my fair share. A night off generally means watching a movie, reading a book or doing anything that has nothing to do with sports – but just hours beforehand, Baseball America‘s list of the top minor-league stadiums in the country came out, and BB&T BallPark in Charlotte was named #1. I had to see it with my own eyes, especially since I’d be solo on the air and couldn’t experience walking around the stadium in-game. So I grabbed my I.L. broadcaster pass and headed Uptown, for the spectacular sight of the park under the lights…

Night full booth view


Charlotte’s the league’s most hitter-friendly park – here’s a view from the short “Home Run Porch” in right field.

RF porch


Built in the middle of the “Uptown” area, BB&T BallPark provides a street-level view for fans walking by – including these two diehards who tell me they’re at just about every game…

Fans through gate                Fans 2                Fan 3

With all the pictures from Charlotte, we’re splitting this into two posts – the second dispatch will come later this week, while I sit and dream about the 80-degree weather south of us here in, um, a more temperate climate.

Chiefs go to Charlotte–a sorta live travel blog

This blog is sorta live because I wrote it when I could have my portable electronic device open.  

3:13 A.M.–Alarm clock goes off.  I feel like I’m at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

3:16–Hop into shower.  Think about the people on the West Coast who still have a full night of sleep ahead of them

3:28–Text Louisville radio announcer Matt Andrews, en route to Pawtucket, “Hope you had a nice little trip.”  No reply.  Sad.

3:30–Game time is officially 15 hours, 45 minutes and three naps away.  

3:38–Insufficient double-check to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything in the suitcase.  Guarantee I’ll remember something I left behind later.

3:42–Matt Andrews responds.  Tells me to travel safe.  He is 20 miles from Providence.  Nap time for him is imminent.

3:43–Write a few emails which will reveal themselves to be incoherent at a more respectable hour.

3:44–Realize, by looking at the clock in the upper-right of my computer, that it is Saturday.

3:46–Get in the car to drive to the ballpark.  Blast Foreigner.

4:00–Arrive at ballpark.  Saw seven cars on my 15-minute drive.

4:05–Stop in Trent Jewett’s office.  Ask if anything is new.  “There hasn’t been time for anything new,” the Chiefs’ manager says.

4:16–I’m assured by Greg Booker that it’s going to “get better before it gets worse.”  In addition, I “have nowhere to go but up.”  I cannot begrudge his use of sarcasm in the morning.  It’s significantly more real than the pretense of enjoying the morning four hours after the night ended.

4:31–Bus to airport leaves.  I’m handed 25 dollars for my checked bag.  As a group, we will send United stock through the roof.

4:50–Wait in line to check bag.  

5:00–Wait some more.  

5:02–Ask Jeff Mandel where Baylor is going in the conference carousel.  He seems to think the Mountain West is an option.

5:05–Go through security.  First time I’ve ever seen two security lanes open at Hancock International Airport.  In addition, I doubt that an international flight which does not arrive in a location east of the Mississippi which considers the maple leaf to be its national symbol departs from Syracuse.

5:26–Crossword puzzle time.

5:38–I realize my puzzle skill set is much weaker on little sleep.

5:42–As we board the first place to Washington-Dulles, the man behind me in line is pat-down searched pursuant to 49 USC 44903.  Tough day for that guy.

5:50–While on the plane, we are reminded that “when a lit sign indicates ‘exit’, you have reached an exit.”  Great.

5:52–We are reminded to “breathe normally” in case of a depressurized cabin.  Thanks.


7:20 or so–Land in Washington.  I nearly suffer cranial bleeding thanks to the last step of the deplaning process.

7:35–Take weird bus-looking shuttle thing to terminal A at Dulles.  Collin Balester muses that he’d like to own one of these and drive it around.

7:56–Board flight number two.

7:57–Jason Bergmann tries to explain to the clerk at the door that he cannot sit in row 15 while his daughter, age 2, sits in row 4.  The woman seems perplexed.  We resolve the issue among ourselves.

8:03–The flight attendant spiel on this flight is the most piercing one I have ever heard.  I tell Trent Jewett, across the aisle from me, that it feels as though someone has planted a speaker in my head.

8:10–Once again, breathe normally in case of depressurization.

8:15–As we taxi, Bergmann–a row behind me with his daughter–is told by a Mussolini-like flight attendant that we cannot take off until his daughter is buckled into her seat.  The woman across the aisle attempts to do the “you’re a big girl” routine to get the younger Bergmann to sit down.  This is a tired act.    

8:18–We take off.  Jason’s daughter is safe.

8:22–Jewett and I are bumped for the 100th time by a flight attendant. Confetti falls from sky.

8:23–The man next to me begins to snore.  

8:33–The man next to me continues to snore.

8:55–We begin our descent.  Bergmann is told that his daughter–now sleeping–cannot remain in Jason’s lap.  The flight attendant says “they are very strict about this.”  Who is “they”?  Are “they” watching?  Is this an Orwell novel?  I like to assume that a child sleeping in a father’s arms is relatively safe.  The woman lectures Bergmann for a short while.  This is getting ridiculous.  She moves on, finally, and tells about six consecutive passengers to put their seats up.  One of them, hilariously, is my gurgling row-mate whose seat is actually not at all inclined.

9:10–As wheels hit ground, the flight attendant is still not buckled into her seat.  I fear that “they” will soon come after her.

9:40–Baggage in hand, I jet over to the hotel in our rental van.

10:29–This blog ends.  I nap.

  I will regain consciousness in time for the 7:15 Chiefs-Knights game in Fort Mill, SC this evening.  Join us on the broadcast at 6:45 with the On Deck Show at

Shoot me an email at jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs,com


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