FinalFourA few months back we recapped the best cities/trips during the various March Madness rounds. Of course this ended in Phoenix with the Final Four, where we told readers this was the most diverse weekend of all the rounds. This writer was lucky enough to attend the Final Four and the amazing sports weekend in Phoenix. This was truly what Sports Vacations is all about and we have a special recap article to review all the action.

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

 

The first day in Phoenix for the Final Four presented the first sporting opportunity: the Los Angeles Clippers at the Phoenix Suns. The best part about this game wasthe price of the tickets, which were less than $25 to get upper level seats. With the way Devin Booker has been playing this season, he alone was worth the price of admission. SunsGame In addition to him, this game also featured a few other great players and some bonafide superstars: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, JJ Redick, Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, to name a few. Sold.

We were staying in Tempe and decided to Uber in before the game. There is a light rail in the city, but it isn’t really an option coming from Tempe and an Uber only ended up being about $15 and took around 15 minutes. Parking isn’t actually that bad if driving is the preferred option, but more on that later. With Talking Stick Resort Arena being downtown, there were also ample bars and restaurant nearby. The arena is also just a few blocks from Chase Field, so it’s a very friendly sports bar area. We happened upon The Park, which had great gourmet street food (get the tacos), TVs a plenty, a live band after the game, and a pour-your-own beer garden. Plenty of other options were available.

Friday, March 31st, 2017

 

Another day, another sporting event. Friday’s game was the Phoenix Coyotes hosting the Washington Capitals. But first, we had to wait on the rest of the gang to arrive. So while waiting on the rest of our crowd to come in, a few of us checked out Arizona State University’s

AMountaincampus and the city of Tempe. This area is definitely worth checking out, and is the true college area in Phoenix. If you are looking for a college bar scene at night, this is your place. More on that later.

We took some time to do some hiking up “A” Mountain. This is a must do stop if you are in the area, as the top holds amazing views of the entire area. This is a much easier hike than Camelback Mountain, as its only about 1,300 feet up and takes about 20-30 minutes to climb. Afterwards, go grab a beer at Pedal Haus Brewery and check out all the local shops off of Mill Street and prepare for the Coyotes game.

The Coyotes play at Gila River Arena in Glendale, and it is a haul to get out there. Easily a 20-30 minute drive from downtown Phoenix, and 45 minutes from Tempe, make sure you leave plenty of time to get out there and pay attention to the time as traffic could cause more delays. Gila River Arena and CoyotesUniversity of Phoenix Stadium are both in the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale, and there is plenty to do here. So getting there early and avoiding traffic is not a bad thing. There are tons of bars, restaurants, and shops in this cool outdoor entertainment area. Check out Bar Louie, which offers lots of happy hours.

Gila River itself is a great arena for hockey. Chances are, the Coyotes won’t be very good and tickets will be cheap. It isn’t hard to find lower level seats for under $50. Grab a beer, the BBQ Nachos, and take a seat. If they end up losing badly, you can always walk back out to the Westgate Entertainment District. Make sure you pay attention to taxi prices, though. Surcharges after the games for Lyft and Uber are often sky high.

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

The Final Four begins! This year’s Final Four was located at The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. This is the same area as Gila River Arena and the Westgate Entertainment District. Once again, traffic can be a major problem so plan ahead.

FerrisWheelThe Final Four is one of the biggest spectacles in all of sports. It is a party like none other, so we arrived at the stadium early. We were not disappointed. There were tons of free concerts featuring bands like Third Eye Blind, food/drink stations, and tons of games. They even had a giant Ferris wheel and free Wendy’s burgers.

Once inside the stadium, the scene was out of this world. Faithful for all four teams, Gonzaga, UNC, South Carolina, and Oregon were decked out in their schools colors. The first game was South Carolina vs Gonzaga, so blue and garnet dominated the landscape.

It was an interesting experience being inside a domed football stadium for a basketball game. Even though we were in the lower level, the seats were still pretty far back from the court. If seated in the upper level, it must have been impossible to see the court. I suppose having FinalFourSeatsthe game in this setting is necessary to allow as many fans from each school to attend. But boy, it was a long way. Luckily there was a massive video board above the court for those far away. We still found ourselves watching the game more than the video board, however.

The atmosphere and game itself was amazing, although sadly our Gamecocks lost in the final seconds. We decided to stay and watch the UNC and Oregon game, because when else would you be in this position. Afterwards, we enjoyed the Westgate Entertainment District again, because why not.

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

 

Opening Day for MLB! The sports just don’t stop coming. The Arizona Diamondbacks were hosting the San Francisco Giants in a great pitching match up: Greinke vs Bumgarner. Tickets were very hard to come by, but for about $50 each we got solid seats in the upper deck with a great view of the entire stadium. It ended up being a walk off win for the home team, and Bumgarner went yard twice. All around great baseball game.

ChaseFieldChase Field is one of the coolest baseball fields around, literally and figuratively. They have a pool out in right field. That’s right, just like the Jaguars stadium, there is pool you can relax in while watching some baseball. There also doesn’t appear to be a bad seat in the house. Even though we were literally in the last row to the left of home plate, we could see the entire diamond. Chase Field also can close the top if it is too hot, which likely happens a great deal in the desert heat.

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

The last day of the ultimate sports vacation was upon us. All that stood in our way was the National Championship game between UNC and Gonzaga. Honestly, the day was very similar to the Final Four games. Exact same setup outside. Our group was a little down since we weren’t playing in this game, but it was a great experience. This was a true bucket list trip and the Final Four is a must for all sports fans. Sports Vacations nailed this trip.

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