We attended an ice hockey game and a basketball game while staying in Minneapolis. The NHL team are actually based in St. Paul which means they don’t play in the same venue as the NBA team.
If you are staying in Minneapolis or St Paul you can easily get the bus or the tram between the two. You can also take the trip out to the Mall of America and you could easily spend a day there before a game. I’m not a huge shopping fan so we decided to take advantage of the fact that we had a car and head out of the city for the day. We drive around some of the lakes that are just outside Minneapolis and stopped in a couple of the towns. Given the February weather the lakes were frozen.
We actually chose to stay in an AirBnB rather than a hotel while in Minneapolis. This was mainly a budget thing as hotels in Minneapolis were really expensive when we looked. The AirBnB has the added bonus of providing free off-street parking.
We knew that we were within a 25-30 walk of the Target Center. As the weather was so cold we looked into using the SkyWalk. For our journey to the venue we were only able to use the SkyWalk part of the way as we went for dinner beforehand and the quickest way from our accommodation to the restaurant was not using the SkyWalk. However when we left the restaurant we were easily able to use Skywalk to get to the venue without going outside.
This gave us confidence to use the SkyWalk when we left the game. Unfortunately about half way along we were met with a locked door. This was pretty frustrating as the locked door had opening hours listed on it, and the listed hours showed it should still be open. This resulted in us having to leave the SkyWalk and walk about 15 mins in -17 Celsius. Lesson learned don’t rely on the listed hours.
We could have used the bus to get the game and in theory we could have used the tram but the walk involved in getting to the tram meant it was not really an option (as it ended up being a longer option).
We sat in the upper bowl for this game. I was not very impressed with the seats. While they were padded and fairly comfortable, I had to sit at an angle in order to see the court properly. I found this really uncomfortable as the game went on, this definitely affected my enjoyment of the game. I had to twist a little to see the jumbotron as well so it wasn’t as though I could rely on that.
It felt like the venue wasn’t really designed for basketball. Though I’m sure if I was in one of the blocks at end line or along the sidelines, I would not have had an issue with the seat angle.
We drove from Detroit to Milwaukee so when picking a hotel we were looking at options with parking. Milwaukee does have many parking garages so you don’t need to limit yourself to hotels with parking. We choose the Brewhouse Inn and Suites. It’s a hotel in an old brewery building and the conversion was really well done. The hotel has a pub attached so you can get food/drinks without having to leave the building. We found out that the pub offers a shuttle bus to the Fiserv Forum. As the Forum is only a 10 min walk a shuttle isn’t really necessary but this would be useful if you had mobility issues or if the weather was really bad.
We had a full day in Milwaukee so we decided to get out of the city and go to the Jelly Belly factory for the free tour. You definitely need a car to do this trip but it’s worth it for the free samples.
We also went to the Mars Cheese place. It’s basically a supermarket with a heavy cheese theme but it also has a medieval castle theme. It’s a bit weird but good for a visit if you like cheese.
The Fiserv Forum is in the centre of Milwaukee so if you are staying downtown you will be able to walk from your hotel. If you are staying slightly further out you will need to get the bus or you can drive in and park in one of the many lots near by.
Milwaukee has a wide range of places to get food – if you like bratwurst this is the town for you. We did eat before going to the venue (in the hotel restaurant which seemed to be a popular choice).
We sat in the lower bowl for this game. I was actually surprised by how cheap the tickets were. The seats were comfortable and this was a good view on to the court. There wasn’t much we couldn’t see and the jumbotron ( and screens around the upper level) helped with that while providing stats. I particularly liked the hustle board.
This is one of the newer venues in the NBA and it definitely shows when you are inside.
We drove into Detroit and stayed at The Siren hotel. Now that the Detroit venue has moved to Little Caesar’s Arena (from The Palace At Auburn Hills) it is easier to stay in the downtown area and get to the game. There are many hotel options in Detroit. We picked ours based on proximity to the venue and ability to park the car. We ended up using the valet parking, this was entirely due to the weather as we didn’t want to have to move the bags any distance in the cold and snow but we could have easily parked within a couple of blocks of the hotel.
We arrived in Detroit the day before the game because we wanted to explore Detroit. On the first night we went to Cafe D’Mongos Speakeasy. It’s a small bar but the staff, and the regulars, are all really friendly and the cocktails are strong. We also went for dinner in Grand Trunk Pub which is a converted railway station. The have a good sized menu and the portion sizes are also good.
On our full day in Detroit we took a ride on the people mover (Detroit’s monorail). This was mainly for the novelty value but it was a good, cheap way to see Detroit. Importantly it was heated which was really appreciated in February in Detroit. We also went to the Motown Museum. If you are interested in Motown music, this is a must see. Apparently there are building an extension, I felt our tour was really comprehensive so I’m not sure what else they will cover. All tours are guided and I would recommend booking in advance as there isn’t really anything else to do in that area if you just miss a tour time.
Little Caesar’s Arena is on the street car system so you can use that to access the venue or you can walk if your hotel is close enough, as ours was. There are several restaurants on the outskirts of the venue providing a wide range of options. The arena is only about a 10-15 walk from the downtown area so you should also have gone to eat there before or after the game.
As it was Knicks v Pistons we decided to sit a little closer to the front than normal.
I thought these seats were great. We were close to the bench so got to witness the team dynamics but were still able to enjoy the game even when the team all stood up. The seats were comfortable and padded. There is no at seat service so you do have to go to the concessions if you want anything but you would be doing that from any seat.
The jumbotron lived up to its name, providing clear stats. I liked that the inside of the screens also showed information so that you could see the stats from wherever you were sat.
It’s that time of year again when we go on a basketball road trip to coincide with NBA All Star. This year we flew into Chicago and picked up a hire car. We did stay in each of the cities where we watched games so I will be able to explain different options for getting to the game if you are in the city.
All NBA Venues have parking next to or near the arena so you can always drive to the venue. We have done this a couple of times, but only because we were getting back on the interstate straight after the game. If you are staying locally I would not recommend driving as the wait to clear the parking lot, or the immediate surrounds will add to your journey time and I’m certain that other methods of transport will be quicker.
I’ve been to about 19 NBA venues now. To date they have all had ample restrooms and a good range of places to get food and drink. Although the options will vary based on regional preferences you will be able to get soda, beer, spirits, hotdogs, burgers, a chicken option and popcorn. I’m not going to keep pointing this out in every review but I will say if there is anything of particular interest at a venue.
There will be a few blogs coming up covering Detroit, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Chicago. I’ve changed the style of the blog so let me know what you think.