These conferences are grueling. Since it was being held at the Atlanta Hilton, there was little reason to step outside the facility. By Wednesday night, I had just about had it with the interior of the hotel and was growing stir crazy from not seeing the light of day (or night).
As it turned out, the Hawks were in town against the newly relocated (and renamed) Brooklyn Nets. A perfect opportunity to get off property, get out and enjoy some much needed down time.
I grabbed a couple of colleagues and hopped in a cab on this soggy night. A quick $20 ride later and we were stepping onto the curb at Philips Arena.
As soon as we got out of the cab, a man was there holding 3 tickets. Twenty five each he asked. No way, I responded. These aren’t even the New Jersey Nets anymore. After a quick haggle, we had all 3 tickets for $40. Not bad we thought. At this price, we didn’t feel bad leaving or missing part of the game.
Of course, the tickets were upstairs. After an elevator ride to the top, we took a quick peek at the seats and noticed that the entire lower bowl was pretty much empty. No thanks. We opted out of our seats and headed back to the lower bowl.
The trick to grifting to a lower seat is that you need to act like you belong there. Tom took the lead and passed swiftly by the security gal and we settled into “our” seats behind the basket about 25 rows up. Not bad for $13 seats!
We hung out there for a bit and got a little scare when a couple came in and sat next to us – but we just moved down a seat. Easy.
Philips Arena is strange. The luxury boxes are all on one side of the arena and the other all bleachers. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Odd.
At the half, we went to grab some food. Another strange setup with a mall-like food court serving mall-like food. Very disappointing given the elevated standards in most arenas these days.
After hanging out a bit in the food court, we decided to take another chance at scoring better lower levels seats. Once again, no issues. We walked in and sat in the corner about 15 rows back. A great location to watch the end of the game.
Behind us, were a bunch of college kids, maybe 40-50, all chanting and cheering in unison. A unique site that left me wondering if they’re there every night – given the seating and choreography.
Check out the funky intermission entertainment:
For me, the only interesting tidbit for the night was that the Nets are now coached by PJ Carlesimo. Most know PJ for being choked by Latrell Sprewell. PJ’s a Scranton native and alum of my wife’s High School, Scranton Prep. He had them on a bit of roll entering the night, winning seven in a row, but the Hawks were too much and easily beat the Nets 109-95.
Except for the company of a couple of my colleagues, this was a rather unforgettable experience. On the bright side, I can cross off the Hawks, Nets and Philips Arena.