Top 10 Sports Road Trip Destinations In The Great Plains

Ryan FallerAnalyst IFebruary 10, 2011

Top 10 Sports Road Trip Destinations In The Great Plains

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    "Road trippin', road trippin', we're not happy unless we're road trippin'."

    The above should be the official anthem for any adventurous sports fanatic.

    Yeah, spectating at games locally is a delight, but there's a whole nation out there, filled with wildly entertaining and historically significant venues that dot the landscape from coast to coast and everywhere in-between.

    So, get out there and find them. But before departure, use the following as your guide.

    There are any number of great sports road trip destinations that await you, but we had to draw the line somewhere.

    For us, 100 seemed like a nice, round number, including 10 apiece from 10 distinct regions around the U.S.

    In this slide-show, we glide across the predominantly smooth terrain of the Great Plains (Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, the Dakotas) to find that the term "flyover territory" doesn't exactly apply in terms of finding some memorable road trip locales.

10. Mandan Rodeo Days

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    If you’re ever feeling saucy around The Fourth, Mandan, North Dakota, is the place to be.

    That is unless you put no stock in what the North American Bus Tours Association says, which named the Mandan Rodeo Days Celebration one of the Top 100 Events in America.

    My advice is to betray your better judgment and just do it. After all, when else can you say you got to take in a three-day Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association extravaganza?

    Don't roll your eyes—no one said you had to do it sober.

9. Fargodome

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    Photo © 2009 Bobak Ha'Eri (CC-BY-SA-2.5)

    Please, please, do not make the mistake of pigeonholing the Fargodome.

    So much more than just the home to North Dakota State football Saturdays, the building has hosted everything from a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to various WWE events.

    Not surprisingly, the Fargodome, which can hold some 25,000 and is actually not dome-shaped, has had an enormous impact in the immediate area.

    It is reportedly responsible for $142 million worth of local economic growth in the 10 years since its opening in 1992.

8. Black Hills Stocks Show and Rodeo

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    This particular year, the final day of the Black Hills Stocks Show and Rodeo was on Feb. 6, which would explain the lower viewership numbers for Super Bowl XLV in Rapid City, South Dakota.

    But there’s always 2012, a potential banner year for what has long been one of the state’s foremost happenings.

    Just make it a point to reserve your spot at the Ranch Rodeo by about, um, early summer, because the event enjoyed an all-time high in attendance last month.

7. Oklahoma City Arena

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    Formerly known as Ford Center, the Oklahoma City Arena is your typical multi-purpose facility used for sporting and entertainment events.

    There’s an inordinate amount of arenas just like it around the country.

    Ah, but there’s only one Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City forward who wows with such regularity, that attending a Thunder home game has become something of a trendy option for Oklahoman sports and entertainment junkies.

6. TD Ameritrade Park Omaha

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    Slated for completion this year, TD Ameritrade Park Omaha will replace the immortal Rosenblatt Stadium as the host of the College World Series.

    Sure, the history will be absent, but the new place, built at a cost of $128 million, will feature all the amenities worthy of a road trip to Omaha in late June, including openings at street level for all those too cheap to buy a ticket.

    And, hey, if the view is good, make the CWS an annual event. Per an agreement in 2008 between the NCAA and the city, the College World Series will be held in Omaha every year through 2035.

5. Arrowhead Stadium

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    A landmark that nearly straddles the border between Kansas and Missouri, Arrowhead technically falls in the Midwest Region, but we feel it’s best suited here.

    The largest football stadium in Missouri, Arrowhead is the NFL’s third-largest facility in terms of seating, capable of holding in excess of 81,000 red-clad Chief supporters.

    It is part of the Truman Sports Complex—an area upon which adjacent Kauffman Stadium was simultaneously built—and was constructed at a time when many cities were consolidating multiple franchises into a single facility.

    Over the years, Arrowhead has been remembered for its innovation, but more so for the crowds it houses. Kansas City fans can be considered some of the most loyal and passionate in the country and, it appears, some of the most traditional.

    Even with the promise of Super Bowl XLIX at Arrowhead and a future All-Star Game at Kaufmann, Jackson County voters in 2006 rejected a tax increase to fund the construction of a rolling roof for the two stadiums.

    That marked the third time the idea was rejected.

4. Gaylord Family—Oklahoma Memorial Stadium

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    On any given fall day, as many as 82,112 Oklahomans descend upon Norman and, more specifically, Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium to watch the state’s unofficial pro football team.

    Seven national titles and 43—count ‘em, 43—conference championships will build that kind of following. As will five Heisman Trophy winners and 152 All-Americans.

    Boomer Sooner, indeed. Whatever the hell that means.

3. Gallagher-Iba Arena

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    “It got so loud, a lot of the lights busted in Gallagher.”

    Those words belong to former Oklahoma State wrestling coach Myron Roderick, whose description of the atmosphere at the Big 8 Conference finals in 1978, hyperbole or no, is typical for Gallagher-Iba Arena.

    Known primarily as the home mat to OSU’s prestigious wrestling program, which has captured a record 34 national championships, the building has also become a symbol of Cowboys basketball, both with its modernized updates and old-school feel, right down to the original maple floor.

2. Allen Fieldhouse

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    As an alum of the University of Missouri, it is a clause within my unofficial oath to despise everything Kansas, but loathe Allen Fieldhouse I cannot.

    OK, maybe a little, but my disdain only speaks to the dominance that Kansas has orchestrated within its hallowed walls, winning more than 86 percent of its games since the Fieldhouse opened in 1955.

    Though far younger than some other venerable oases in the NCAA, Allen has the feel of a pre-World War I antique, made all the more timeless by the ghosts of players and coaches past, including Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, and James Naismith, creator of the KU program and inventor of the game.

1. Memorial Stadium (University of Nebraska)

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    If there’s one destination on this list that requires expert planning, a keen eye, and a little bit of luck, it’s Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, where the Cornhuskers have played before a sellout crowd for more than 310 consecutive games dating back to 1962.

    Odds are, if you’re reading this, you weren’t yet born the last time an empty seat was found amid the world-famous sea of red.

    Just FYI, Nebraska is fleshing out plans for an expansion to coincide with its defection to the Big Ten, but don’t expect a larger seating chart to make it any easier to find a ticket.