Everyone has their childhood dream. Most kids early on will dream big, wanting to be the next great astronaut, or a brave police officer. Through the years, some of these dreams get flattened by harsh times or realizations.
However, some of us are fortunate enough to be living that dream. Some of us will hold on to our dreams until they become something real and concrete.
The following is an interview with a man named Paul Swaney, who is the founder of a website called Stadium Journey (www.stadiumjourney.com). I have had the pleasure of working with Paul for a short time, and it was a great experience.
Paul is an ordinary person like the rest of us, but with the right mindset and the support from his friends, colleagues and his wife, he has started to follow his dream.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, you can leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
Q: What is Stadium Journey?
A: "Stadium Journey is a resource for travelers to get the most value out of their trips to sporting events. We provide useful information, so fans will have everything they need to plan their next trip. We also provide an outlet for fans to share their vast knowledge of sports stadiums and arenas."
Q: How did the Stadium Journey idea come to you and your partners/colleagues?
A: "For years I have enjoyed planning out itineraries for trips that I never took. In 2008, I began to play with the idea of a trip to go to every venue in the four major sports (MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL) in the span of one calendar year—starting in September with the NFL season and extending into the following August. The current site morphed from there with the realization that the trip I was proposing was too much for me to take on at the time."
Q: When did you realize that building a stadium website was more than a hobby?
A: "I'm not sure that I've realized it yet. This will remain a hobby until we can make enough money to make this a full-time business. I realized fairly early on however that this was my true occupation, even if I still had to keep working a 9-5 job until we could get it off the ground."
Q: How long did you have the idea before you actually considered going through with it?
A: "I spent most of 2007 and 2008 playing with this concept in various ways and talking about how I wanted to see if it could be made into a business. My wife was really encouraging and basically told me to stop talking and start doing something about it. For Christmas, 2008, she bought me the domain name for Stadium Journey, and I traveled to each Big Ten basketball arena in the winter of 2009 as sort of a test to see if I enjoyed traveling and writing about the experience as much as I thought I would."
Q: What are your hopes for Stadium Journey?
A: "My hope for Stadium Journey is to become THE place to go for planning a trip and to find information about various sports stadiums. I also want to make the site more interactive and more fun, and begin to grow a community feel to the site. In the future, I hope that we will have full-time paid employees and this will, in fact, become my job and hobby rolled into one."
Q: What is your favorite venue and why?
A: "My favorite venue is Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse (http://stadiumjourney.com/stadiums/hinkle-fieldhouse-s785/), although I find that 'favorite' is difficult to pin down and tends to be sort of a moving target. I love venues that just wreak of history, but it is almost always the fans that make a building into something really magical. The fans at Hinkle know and love basketball, and show an appreciation for the team that is rarely seen."
"Other favorites include Phog Allen Fieldhouse (Kansas), Wrigley Field (Cubs), Fenway Park (Red Sox), Target Field (Twins), Breslin Center (Michigan State), Kohl Center (Wisconsin), Camden Yard (Orioles) and PNC Park (Pirates)."
Q: What does Stadium Journey mean to you?
A: "Stadium Journey is about making the most out of the time that you have, and the things that you love. I have grown to love the work that goes into this site, and I wake up every day excited to work even harder to make it better."
Q: Have your expectations for the website been met so far?
A: "The tricky thing about expectations is that the more success you experience, the bigger your expectations get. I would say that I feel very good about the progress we have made. The venture will be a true success, and thus meet my expectations, when we have full-time staff employed."
Q: Where do you see Stadium Journey five years down the road?
A: " Five years from now, Stadium Journey will be the first place that pops into the minds of people before they plan a trip to a sporting event. We will be providing our members with tips and suggestions, and itinerary planning tools. Members of Stadium Journey will be happier sports fans because every time they go to a game, they will experience the very best of what a venue has to offer."
Q: What are some interesting facts about you, your colleagues and Stadium Journey as a whole?
A: "As of the time of this interview (1/24/11) we have comprehensive reviews of 294 sports venues, and have posted a new review every day for 177 consecutive days. We have 23 talented writers working on the venture from all over the United States and Canada, as well as correspondents in England, Australia and Japan.
We will continue to expand our content to a world audience. In the coming year you'll see updated and new reviews from Major League baseball, Japanese professional baseball and minor league baseball. You'll see reviews from the NHL, AHL, ECHL and CHL. College basketball and college football will continue to be an integral part of what we do, and I expect that every stadium in the NCAA FBS will have been reviewed by the end of the 2011 season.
In Europe, we will have reviews from the English Premier League, Bundesliga (Germany), La Liga (Spain) and Serie A (Italy). We will also provide reviews from the Australian Football League, Canadian Football League, Arena Football League and NASCAR. The possibilities are almost limitless, and we are excited about what the future holds!"
Again, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, be sure to leave a comment at the bottom of the page and both Paul and I will get to it as soon as we can.
Don't forget to check out the Stadium Journey website at www.stadiumjourney.com.
If you are interested in writing for Stadium Journey, there are currently openings as Regional Correspondents for the North Central (Minnesota & Wisconsin), Ontario, Ohio and Oklahoma/Arkansas. Internationally, there are Regional Correspondent positions open in Italy, Germany and Spain.
Paul Swaney can be contacted by email here: Paul@stadiumjourney.com