Austin’s New Amphitheatre

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I covered my experiences with the Frank Erwin Center last month and found that it helped quite a few people make some decisions on seats, parking, and what to look forward to when heading to the venue. This month I am looking at Austin’s newest member to the massive family of venues, the Austin360 Amphitheater.

I was ecstatic to hear Austin was bringing in an amphitheater, and when they announced it would live right in the middle of the Circuit of the Americas F1 racing grounds and I couldn’t wait to check it out. Sometimes when you hold such high expectations for something you end up being disappointed. Let me be the first to say this is not the case for the Austin360 Amphitheater.

My first visit out to A360 was the venues debut and Kenny Chesney was taking the stage. Though I will admit $20 for parking was a bit lofty for me and the walk can get pretty far depending on the lot you have to park in, the staff goes out of their way to make up for it. First of all I have never been to an event where the traffic flows with such ease upon entering and exiting. Along with an extremely friendly traffic control staff the venue offers a free shuttle to and from the entrance (as well as an army of pedicabs).

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Seating Chart for Austin360 Amphitheater

Having seen Chesney twice before at the Erwin Center and FC Dallas Stadium I knew the show was going to be good regardless of the venue. Like I said before, the 360 Amphitheater did not disappoint. I had lawn seats and my only suggestion for this section is if you are a stickler about being in the front get there early because it fills fast. Don’t worry if you don’t get there early enough because the lawn is elevated so you won’t have to deal with me (the tall guy that stands in front of you at every show). The grass is thick and lush making for a great seat (even though most everyone in the lawn stands for the whole show) but blankets and seat-back chairs (chairs that don’t have legs) are acceptable. My most recent visit to the Austin 360 Amphitheater was at Dave Matthews Band, I didn’t sit in the lawn but noticed an additional riser with tables and a full service bar which would have been hell-a-nice at Chesney. The view from the lawn depends on where you get situated at but the sound is just as good as the front row. There are giant screens on each side of the stage and they are plenty big to satisfy your viewing needs. All in all, the lawn is a great, cheaper way to get in on a great show. I already snagged two lawn tickets to the Mumford & Sons show in June and can’t wait to get back to the amphitheater.

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Dave Matthews Band at Austin360 Amphitheater

Last time I had tickets to see DMB was in 2009 at ACL, the year it poured all weekend and led me to leave before getting a chance to see one of my favorite bands. I was not about to miss Dave the second time around. My wife and I sat in the back of section 105 on row U and it was amazing. I know what you’re thinking too, it was your favorite band of course you thought it was amazing. Well you’re right but that doesn’t mean the venue didn’t have a role in my enjoyment as well. The picture at the top and to the right were both taken from my seat to give you a perspective of the view from section 105. The 100′s sections are all very similar so you can expect the same view in 101-107. The 200 section is a bit further back but still not bad and all the seats are roomy and comfortable (for amphitheater chairs).

My biggest complaint is the price of the booze. Domestic 16 oz. beers were $8-8.50 and the imports were a dollar more and after everything you spend to get into the joint nobody wants to pay that much for a beer. There is a solution though and I have seen tons of people taking advantage of it so far. They allow tailgating in the parking lot prior to the show. Tents, beer pong, washers, and corn-hole, I have seen it all out in the parking lot which is cool because the concession stand will win the battle with your wallet.

The Austin360 Amphitheater is a great place to catch a concert and I keep telling people to go check it out. With Mumford & Sons scheduled for two shows in June, Wiz Khalifa & ASAP Rocky in July, Maroon 5 & Kelly Clarkson in September, and Lil Wayne & T.I., Train, and Keith Urban in between there are plenty of good times to be had at Austin360. Check out A360′s full schedule and get tickets to your favorite artist.

The Frank Erwin Center

Having lived in Austin, Texas for the majority of my life I have become quite acquainted with our largest indoor arena, the Frank Erwin Center. I have seen everything from basketball games to concerts at the Frank Erwin Center; I even proposed to my wife at a John Mayer concert back in 2010. I have sat in almost every area of the venue and you might be surprised to hear which seats gave me the best experience during my time in the audience at the Erwin Center.

Before you get into the Frank Erwin Center you have to find a place to park, but don’t worry because there are plenty of garages within an easy walking distance. The closest non-reserved lots are on Red River and are literally right next to the venue, but get there early if you want any chance at snagging a spot before the crowd shows up. The rest of the parking garages surrounding the Frank Erwin Center are all approximately the same distance with the exception of a few that are more south on Trinity. The majority of the parking is between San Jacinto and Trinity. These two roads run parallel to each other creating block after block of parking garages. There are also some parking garages on the University of Texas campus at Red River and Robert Dedman Drive that can be used as well. Prices to all the garages vary but offer a much better alternative to calculating how much money you need to give the pay-to-park meter in hopes that you’ll be back before the time expires…because it will expire.

The first concert I went to at the Frank Erwin Center was Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in 1999. The show was a part of their Echo Tour and I was far too young to get 80% of the undertone in all of their songs but I loved the music. The only thing I can accurately recall from our seats is that we were not at the top but the floor was not in front of us which leads me to believe we were in the arena seating. I was 13 at the time but I can remember being able to see Tom Petty fairly well. I wouldn’t say they were the best seats I’ve had but they were not the worst either.

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Another concert that is a bit fuzzy in my memory is Shania Twain. I do remember being on the floor but in the second to last row in the first section. I was young so seeing over 6 foot plus people was a much larger task than it is now. My recommendation for floor seating is to go big or get in the telescoping risers. If you’re not in the first ten or so rows of each of the floor sections visual acuity will become somewhat of a challenge due to the lack of elevation. The risers however offer the perfect elevation per row and are a great spot to enjoy the show from. I caught the John Mayer show from the section 43 arena risers and could see everything pretty vividly. Though the seats were good enough for a proposal to my wife, they were not my favorite.

My most recent trip to the Erwin Center was March of 2013 to see Eric Clapton and the Wallflowers. I took my brother-in-law and we sat in the arena level’s section 34. In looking at the map you might think that a spot all the way on the right side of the stage is the least compelling of all. I did too until I saw the show from that perspective. I know that this is almost 100% opinion but for me being able to see the entire band interact was one of the best concert experiences I have had and will lead me to get more seats on the side of stages. The view from the arena level provides enough clarity to see the performance and not have to decipher little fuzzy people to tell who you are watching. Sitting on the side of the stage versus sitting directly in front of the stage allows you to view the stage with depth and the ability to catch all the interactions between the bands set. I would agree that this will vary depending on the show but if you ever get a chance to catch a show from stage side I would still recommend it.

I’ve had many memories at Frank Erwin Center and am excited to continue to make more. There are tons of good acts coming through Austin in the next couple of months including Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney & Bruno Mars and now you know where the best seat in the house is.

The Madness is Approaching

As March approaches, college basketball fans across the country are preparing for the madness. From the conference tournaments to the NCAA Tournament the time between March and early April is a college basketball fans dream. With 300+ games taking place from the first conference tournament contest to the National Championship, it truly is March Madness.

As always, the NCAA Tournament will take its madness to arenas, centers, and pavilions all over the nation. The second and third rounds are scheduled for March 21-24 at the following venues:

The second and third rounds are always exciting as it is a massive amount of basketball played in just a short span of time. After four days of competition at these various venues only 16 teams will remain in the NCAA Tournament.

Commonly known as the Sweet 16, the Regional Semi-finals will venture off to another set of venues. These venues will also host the Regional Finals, or as it is better known, the Elite 8. The tournament is broken down into four regions (West, South, Midwest, East) and each is played at a separate location. Two of the four venues are ones that normally sanction a sport other than basketball and will require a face lift before the NCAA Tournament can set forth. Home to the West Regionals, the Staples Center is more than familiar with the basketball setup as it is the home of the Lakers and Clippers. The East Regionals hangs on to the basketball venue theme as well taking over the Verizon Center home to the Washington Wizards.As for the remaining two, both are normally filled by football fans and will take on a whole new perspective as basketball fans fill the seats.

The South Regionals will take place at the one and only Dallas Cowboys Stadium. In order to accommodate to a much smaller field of play floor seats will be brought in to surround a wood court that was once 100 yards of turf.

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The Midwest Regionals will take a similar approach moving in on the field of the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. However, for this set up the basketball court will go up surrounded with floor seating in the south end-zone leaving only a portion of the stadium available for seating.

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From here the NCAA Tournament will pack up once again and travel to Atlanta, Georgia to transform yet another football stadium for the most anticipated span of the tournament — the Final Four. The Georgia Dome, home to the Atlanta Falcons, will undergo similar changes to that of Jerry-World. Floor seating will be brought in to surround the court that will be placed in the middle of the field.

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The most exciting time in college basketball is upon us so don’t get caught watching the games on television wishing you were there instead. Tickets won’t last forever so act fast and get that front row seat to be a part of all the Madness and don’t forget to follow the March Madness bracket at TicketCity.

MJ vs. LJ

With the 50th birthday of the legendary Michael Jordan right around the corner there has been a lot of comparing in the air between MJ and LJ. Is LeBron the next Jordan? Who would win in a one-on-one game between the two? Is LeBron better than Jordan? Is LeBron the best…ever? From ESPN to your local sports news station it seems that this has been the talk ever since LeBron James stepped on to the court. At this point in both players career they have produced similar as far as winning percentage, MVPs, and Finals appearances. There is however one huge distinction — MJ won all three visits to the finals while LeBron only took home one.

I am not here to take anything away from the “King,” he is a great basketball player and will surely leave a huge mark on the game, but he is no Michael Jordan. If you look at the way the two play the game there are few similarities. In fact the aspects of LeBron’s game fall more in line with that of Wilt Chamberlin and Magic Johnson. If anyone on the court today plays MJ-esque it would have to be Lakers phenom Kobe Bryant. Jordan hit the court with the mindset that he was going to beat you single handedly a mindset that seemingly found its way into the head of Bryant. Watching LeBron and his charismatic approach to the game immediately reminds me of a Magic Johnson. James does have more of the scoring ability that Chamberlin possessed but when it comes to generating the offense James is almost a spitting image of Magic. In a sense comparing MJ and LJ is like comparing Nolan Ryan and Babe Ruth or Joe Montana and Ray Lewis. All amazing athletes but have completely different roles in the game. No one has attacked the goal like Jordan, not LeBron and not Kobe; it was the aspect of Jordan’s game that made him the Jump-man Air Jordan.

To compare any player to Jordan is somewhat irrelevant especially someone with only one ring. Maybe the time will come when LeBron’s game takes more of an attacking type style but for now the two can’t be categorized in the same class. LeBron said it best in a twitter response to all the commotion about the comparison; “I am not MJ, I’m LJ.”

When it comes to ranking players as the best it has to come down to who you want on the court to win a playoff game. Though LeBron’s current stretch of at least 30 points and 60 percent shooting is impressive it’s not the playoffs and Jordan did it in the ‘90s but at 46 points at 60 percent along with 10 rebounds and 5.5 assists. Besides Game 6 against Boston, LeBron’s playoff performance is still hanging in limbo waiting to be seen. Jordan was born for the playoffs. When the game is on the line you wanted the ball in his hands without question. In college Jordan hit the game winning shot to win the NCAA championship, he put up 63 points in the Garden against the legendary Celtics team in 86, and sunk the game winner at the buzzer against Utah with the flu. Where LeBron has lost three years in a row, Jordan never lost a playoff series when he had home-court advantage.

There is no doubt LeBron has the potential to be something great but to be the next Michael Jordan, not likely, nor will anybody else for that matter. With 6 NBA championships, 6 NBA Finals MVPs, 5 NBA MVPs, 14-time All-Star nominations, 10 scoring titles, 10 All-NBA First Team selections, 9 All-Defensive First Team selections, a Rookie of the Year award and a Hall of Fame enshirement, there is and always will be only one Michael Jordan.

Swing In the New Year at Opening Day

With the Harbaugh Super Bowl just around the corner sports fans will have to turn their attention to the next big day of the New Year — MLB’s Opening Day. Hot dogs, peanuts, beer, and seventh inning stretches are just around the corner. With Opening Day games scheduled at venues like Minute Maid Park, Yankee Stadium, Turner Field, and Dodger Stadium, it’s a perfect time to catch a game. The slate is clean and the hunt for October begins in March with some of the most impressive match-ups the MLB has to offer.

To kick of the new season we head to Minute Maid Park where the stage is set for a Texas showdown. There will only be one game in the spotlight on Opening Night as the Texas Rangers head into Houston to play the Astros in their first game as an American League member. The two teams are not unfamiliar with competing on an inter-league basis as a part of the Lone Star Series which has been played since 2001 but now that they will be playing for divisional rights things could get a little more intense. Spoken as a true Astros fan, it’s been a little hard to root for a team that has been at bottom since the departure of the three B’s. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. With the new move to the American League the ‘Stros get the full-time DH, which will come in handy against an offensively stacked AL. To do the job the Astros brought in Carlos Pena who despite only hitting 19 HR’s last year carries a strong resume. Ironically the slugger’s MLB debut in 2001 was with the Rangers, a team that will be looking to bounce back from the mayhem of the 2012 Wildcard game.

After March 31st the flood gates open up to a two day opening day extravaganza. Besides some of the premiere games like Tigers – Twins, Giants – Dodgers, and Phillies – Braves one of the most intriguing game day openers is the classic Yankees – Red Sox rivalry. Despite having played each other for more than a century the two AL East foes have only met in the ALCS three times but every postseason since the inception of the wild card format has featured one of these teams. The Red Sox had to mosey their way through an 86-year curse but have managed to remain productive since breaking the Bambino’s curse with a World Series win in 2004. The Yankees have seen better times but they are always in contention, especially with names like Suzuki, Jeter, Pettitte, and Sabathia on the roster. In any light a rivalry that features two of the best teams, national attention, and the fiercest fans around is destined to be good, thus making the Yankees-Red Sox opener a must see in 2013.

No matter where opening day 2013 sends you TicketCity want to take you. So check out the full schedule of this year’s opening day games as well as your favorite team’s 2013 home opener schedule at TicketCity!