Following is the second installment of WRT's Florida trip to watch the Wild play. Since the team emerges from FL with a 2-0 record, I suspect he will be invited to attend the rest of their road games this season - on the team's dime, of course.
Wild Road Tripper says:
BankAtlantic Center, for its location near South Florida's major shopping area (the five-portion behemoth Sawgrass Mills Outlet Mall) you would think would be busier than it actually is. One of two major arenas in the area (the other being the American Airlines Arena in Downtown Miami) there is a dearth of events in event-filled South Florida on the day before the Minnesota Wild play the Florida Panthers.
From the outside, you wonder if a hurricane ever makes a direct hit on the place how it will survive, with massive amounts of glass on the East and West side and the South End. The North side (where the Panthers' box office is) is thankfully in the shade, a must for South Florida. However, having said that, it makes an impressive evening presence as we approach from the parking lot.
Parking a vehicle here is easy and free. The drawback is some of the locations are a ways (1/4-to-1/3rd mile) away from the arena itself. Taligating is tolerated in the lots. Scalpers (and there are many most Panther game nights) work the lots, not near the plaza areas (off-limits by Broward County ordinance) themselves. Plenty of good seats still available. Traffic flow is good, with the Sawgrass Expressway nearby and I-595 three miles south via Panther Parkway (a.k.a. NW 136th Ave.)
Once you walk in (straight on, no wanding, no Nationwide Arena-style waist showing) you pick up a program (free; again, are you listening, Minnesota Wild??) and go directly onto the concourse, where the team store (Pantherland) beckons.
All sorts of Panther-related items for $5/each (mugs, pins, growling doo-dads, etc.) and lots of people buying. Food here is markedly better than the out-sourced stuff at the St. Pete Times Forum. Stir-fry, pitas, Cuban sandwiches, all sorts of sausages, beers a-plenty, it's all here. Where to find it is along the concourse on large, back-lit signs. Sodas are Coke items; they do have fountain sodas, and yes, you can get a Panthers' souvenir soda for $5. They love that image down here...
Seating can go from the super-comfortable (leather seats in certain locations on the 100-level) to the ridiculously tight (my seat in Section 108 was made for a munchkin). Three levels, reminds me of HSBC Arena in Buffalo. The 400-level is atrociously high up there, you are a ways away in the cheap seats. Two levels of suites in 3/4ths of the arena; the end where the Panthers shoot at 1st & 3rd periods is the end where no suites are on top of the 100-level (this is the end they call the 'Sinatra theatre' when the place is set up in small concert format).
Note to the impatient; trying to get back to your seat is tough, especially with all the lost 'sheeple' in front of you. Someone really needs to get the people moving when the play stops.
And speaking of which, here's one for you: every play stoppage is sponsored by some business trying to get their name out there. Every icing, every break, every whistle comes another ad blurb. I suppose that's what happens when you don't make the NHL playoffs for eight straight seasons.
Would I go back to the BAC? Yes, but take advantage of what you have. The gates open one hour before the game starts. Open up earlier (say 6 PM for a 7:30 PM start?) and let people take advantage of the food you serve there. It's not a bad place to spend an evening, why not allow people to enjoy it (especially since there's no real Bar/restaurant district within walking distance)??