THE UNITED CENTER – CHICAGO, IL

 

The United Center is the home of the streaking Chicago Bulls.  As of this writing they have won five straight games.  Who said we were going to only win 16 games this year?!  I got to witness them beat Kristaps Porzingis and his New York Knickerbockers.   It was also great to see Bennie the Bull again as well.  I specifically enjoyed watching the Bulls players attempt to defend a 7’3” unicorn in Kristaps Porzingis.

While I was there to attend the game, I was also able to eat some good pizza.  As I have written a few times before, the United Center has always had OUTSTANDING pizza.  They used to have the most amazing wood fired Digiorno’s pizza topped with oregano.  They then moved to more local Connie’s Pizza at the concession stands.  Connie’s sells deep dish pizza, not stuffed.  They have cheese and pepperoni.  The pizza is delicious.  They also have a wood fired thin crust pizza that is cooked to order, Woodgrain Pizza.

Woodgrain Pizza is fantastic.  The pizza is cooked to order, thus it is piping hot when you receive it.  They also have many different options and the ability to build your own pizza.  There is only one location at the stadium and it sells out quickly but if you get there before half time you are sure to get one of the best stadium pizzas money can buy.  It is just that good.  It is also asthetically pleasing.  It has its own little seating area.  They also have grated parmesean cheese and crushed red pepper.

The Woodgrain Pizza location can be found not far from the trophy case displaying the six NBA Finals Championship trophies.  They also have locations in the city.  If you are at the United Center you can’t go wrong with the pizza, but the Woodgrain Pizza is the best option.  I can’t wait to go back.

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The BMO Harris Bradley Center is the current home of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA’s) Milwaukee Bucks and the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s  (NCAA’s) Marquette Golden Eagles.  I was recently in attendance to see the Milwaukee Bucks play the Los Angeles Lakers.  The Bucks and Golden Eagles will be moving to the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center in 2018.  The new venue will open in 2018.

The BMO Harris Bradley Center is definitely not new, hence the need for a replacement.  The facility is a a giant piece of cinderblock with a basketball court in the middle.  However, it has a good vibe.  I love the “fear the deer” motto.  I also love seeing the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo play in his home court.  It was also nice to see the much touted rookie, Lonzo Ball.  I was able to witness him get his first triple double, and be the youngest person to do so.  It was definitely his best game of his young career.  In addition to seeing the “Greek Freak” and Lonzo Ball, it was Eric Bledsoe’s first game as a Milwaukee Bucks.  However, it was definitely the Giannis’s night.  He was much better than anyone else on the court.

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While the game was great, the Buck’s won, the pizza was better.  The stadium sell’s Palermo’s Pizza and it is simply fantastic.  The pizza is some of the best of any stadium that I have visited.  They sell cheese and pepperoni slices.  They also have an eating area behind the concession stand that has grated parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper.  There are tables with the red and white plaid table cloths for you to eat at, just like at a regular pizza joint.

 I do not know what the plans are for the pizza in the new stadium, but until the new stadium is finished, if you are at the BMO Harris Bradley Center you should definitely go for the pizza.  The sauce is a little tangy, and the cheese is not the most amazing cheese I have ever had but they go so well together that it makes the pizza fantastic.  The slices are thin but not too thin.  The pizza is not too crispy, but still not at all soggy, simply perfect crust.  I also love the ratio of pepperoni to cheese.  Palermo’s seems to have perfected the art of the pizza.  The pizza is so good.  I have to recommend this pizza to anyone who visits the arena.

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While I do not know what the future holds for pizza at the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center in 2018, I do know that they should keep Palermo’s Pizza as the official pizza of the Milwaukee Bucks.  The pizza is simply outstanding and Palermo’s is a local favorite.  I would hate to come back to a college or professional basketball game in Milwaukee and not be served Palermo’s pizza.  As of the writing of this post, it is the beginning of the NCAA and NBA basketball seasons so you still have plenty of time to eat the delicious pizzas at the stadium.

DAVIS WADE STADIUM – STARKVILLE, MS

Davis Wade Stadium is the home of the Mississippi State University football team.  The stadium is known for being the home of the South Eastern Conference’s most important Bulldogs.  While there are many schools that have Bulldogs as their mascot, none are as beautiful as Mississippi State.   The campus of Mississippi State University is simply beautiful.  Located in Starkville, MS, about two and a half hours from Birmingham, AL the stadium is conveniently located within driving distance of many of the south’s major cities: Birmingham, Jackson, and New Orleans.

 

Prior to arriving I was told that after the game it was important that I visit a great pizza place off campus, Stromboli’s.  While Stromboli’s was on my list of things to do ,it was imperative that I eat the pizza at the stadium.  I was immediately warned that it was standard Papa Johns and I needed to leave room for tailgating and Stromboli’s.

 

After being determined to eat the Papa Johns I was pleasantly surprised to see that they sold Little Caesars instead.  They did not make it easy to eat the pizza because it is sold at various locations outside of the concession stands.  There are little Little Caesars stands located throughout the stadium.  The pizzas are not fresh and are all pre-packaged.  They are brought from an unknown location periodically throughout the game.  When I arrived there were no pepperoni pizzas available, only cheese.

Since I was pleased to see Little Caesar’s Pizza, I was expecting the same quality as Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.  No such luck, the pizza was far inferior to the pizza at Comerica Park.  However, it is still not terrible.  If given the opportunity, I will definitely eat the pizza again.  The pizza is standard Little Caesar’s Pizza.  The pizza is not fresh, which makes it a little sad, but it will get the job done.

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If you like stadium pizza, I highly recommend eating the pizza at Davis Wade Stadium.  The pizza is not the best in the world but it beats Papa Johns any day of the week.

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NOTRE DAME STADIUM – NOTRE DAME, IN

Notre Dame Stadium is the home of the football team of the Fighting Irish at the University of Notre Dame.  The stadium and the team are the best in the nation, no matter what the record says (but this year the team is amazing).  The stadium is newly renovated.  I will only see it two times this season but they have a new Jumbotron which is actually quite tastefully placed.  I was a little concerned but it does not detract from the traditional design of the stadium.  The Jumbotron only makes the stadium a little more modern.  Looking at the picture below, the Jumbotron cannot be seen but it directly behind the brick edifice shown, exquisitely placed.

As I have stated in previous posts the pizza at Notre Dame stadium has been hit or miss throughout the years, mostly miss.  However, these past few years the pizza has really been on point.  It is better and better each time.  They have finally perfected the sauce:cheese:crust ratio.  The amount of sauce relative to the cheese is perfect.  The crust is not too thick but not to thin.  The crust is also crunchy.  I have gotten the pizza now at the beginning of the game, the second quarter, and halftime and each time the pizza has been the same.

The stadium has pizza locations throughout but not at each concession stand.  The concession stands directly under the seats at the bottom and right behind the seats at the top do not have pizza.  You have to go to the concession stands in the walkway areas for pizza.  The pizza is also made in house, well on campus.  I do not know if it is freshly prepared in the stadium but it is freshly prepared on campus and brought to the stadium so it is never boxed frozen pizzas.

NOTRE DAME STADIUM – NOTRE DAME, IN

Notre Dame Stadium is home to the University of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish football team.  The stadium is located in the lovely city of Notre Dame, Indiana, just outside of South Bend.  It sits right by the border of Indiana and Michigan.  The stadium is one of the most magnificent stadiums ever built.  The stadium recently underwent renovations to make it even more amazing.  Seating around 80,000 loyal fans there is no bad seat in the house.

Historically, the stadium has struggled with pizza.  However, it has finally found its footing.  Over the past few years the pizza has simply gotten better and better.  The pizza is simply fantastic.  Since it is conveniently located about 80 miles from Chicago it should have great pizza and that it does.

The stadium serves individual pizza slices with both cheese and pepperoni options.  It is a hand tossed style thin pizza and it is simply the best college stadium pizza that I have been too.  The pizza is made in house and is very fresh.  If you are in town to see the Fighting Irish defeat whomever they are playing that day I highly recommend eating the wonderful pizza.

GUARANTEED RATE FIELD – CHICAGO, IL

Guaranteed Rate Field is the home of the Chicago White Sox.  For many years was named US Cellular Field.  The name was changed before the 2017 season.  Personally, I am not a fan of the new name and I will continue to call it “The Cell.”  Just like people still call the stadium Comiskey Park, I will not change the name I call it just because they did.  I don’t want to judge the stadium based on the name, but I was used to going to “The Cell” so this felt a little weird.

While the name changed and the team changed, the pizza remains the same at the stadium.  The stadium continues to sell Beggar’s Pizza.  Beggar’s is a Chicago chain primarily located on the south side.  It is the official chain of the Chicago White Sox as well as the Chicago Bears.  The Chicago Cubs official Pizza is Giordano’s. While Beggar’s is the official Pizza, it shouldn’t be.  It is not good.  It is so bad they were not selling it upon my last visit.

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Considering the pizza is beyond terrible, I was not sad to not eat any.  I hope next season they while change the pizza yet again, preferably back to Digiorno’s or maybe to Giordanos , Connie’s, of anything else.

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There were some good things at the game that made the day amazing.  I got to see the Mickey Mouse statue from the 2010 MLB All-Star game.  They also repainted the 42 representing Jackie Robinson’s retired number.  The blue is brighter and stands out so much more.  Did I mention the game we great and the White Sox had a decisive victory over the Kansas City Royals.

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PNC PARK – PITTSBURGH, PA

PNC Park is the home of Major League Baseball ‘s Pittsburgh Pirates.  The city is probably most well known for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers as well as the 2017 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.  However, the Pirates also have a great history, as well as a pretty nice stadium.  The stadium is located on the North Shore of Pittsburgh along the Allegheny River (Pittsburgh is known for it three rivers: Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio).

While PNC Park is not the most magnificent structure in the MLB (it cannot hold its own against the likes of the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, LA Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, or even the New York Mets), it is still a pretty cool stadium.  Any stadium located next to the water is always has an added level of beauty and magnificence.  The layout is kind of weird, and not very intuitive, but it still follows most of the basic norms of baseball stadiums.

There are two primary options for pizza at PNC Park, Slice on Broadway and Fox’s Pizza Den Pizza.  Slice on Broadway is a sit-down pizza restaurant located on the first level of PNC Park.  Fox’s Den is the pizza that can be purchased at the different concession stands around the stadium.  There is also a Primanti Brothers in the stadium.  The Primanti Brothers is also a sit-down restaurant and the restaurants outside of the stadium sell pizza, however I do not know if they sell it at the stadium.

I could not try all of the pizzas, so I settled on the one that looked the best, Slice on Broadway.  Slice on Broadway as simply fantastic.  It was very nice to sit down at the restaurant and eat hot pizza at a table without having to take it to my seat for it to further cool.  The pizza was simply fantastic.  The sauce was amazing, the cheese was delicious, and the crust was perfect.  I truly enjoyed Slice on Broadway.

While I did not eat a Fox’s Pizza Den, I did see many people purchasing the pizza, which bodes well for the company.  I also did not eat a Primanti Brothers at the stadium, but I did go the restaurant later in the day.  The stadium restaurant looks really nice, however the location I went to was filthy, thus I chose to not order any pizza.

While I did not actually eat the other pizza options at the stadium, I can still wholeheartedly recommend the pizza at Slice on Broadway.  The pizza is hot, fresh, and can be eaten at a table, who can ask for more.  Given the sheer number of people purchasing pizza from Fox’s Pizza Den, I can assume that it too is very good.  I did not hang out near Primanti Brothers, thus I cannot give you an idea of their pizza, however my experience at the restaurant away from the stadium was not a good one, it almost ruined my Pittsburgh experience.

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With that being said, there are so many pizza options there that you cannot go wrong.  The only thing they did wrong at the stadium was choosing to not display the Mickey Mouse statue from the 2010 All-Star Game.

UIC PAVILION – CHICAGO, IL

I recently attended a “BIG3” 3-on-3 basketball game at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.  The BIG3 is a basketball league consisting of former NBA players playing in a series of 3-on-3 games at various locations around the country.  The league was created by Ice Cube and it is in its inaugural season.  I believe that the league is genius because it allows basketball fans, especially millennials, an opportunity to see many former NBA players that they followed as children but never got an opportunity to see.

At one event I got to see Brian Scalabrine, KENYON MARTIN, ALLEN INVERSION, GARY PAYTON, DR. J, Cuttino Mobley, and others (Steven Jackson, Chauncey Billups, and Charles Oakley were also there but I did not see them).  I also got a chance to see Kenyon Martin, Brian Scalabrine, and Brian Scalabrine play.  I also was afforded the opportunity to try another stadium’s pizza.

As far as basketball goes, I could not have been happier.  For pizza, it was an utter disappointment!  They only had one concession stand open and the line was so long that I would have missed the games.  The games only play to 60 points so I did not want to that much of the game.  I also noticed them bringing out frozen pizzas from boxes and putting them in the oven.  The pizza is Connie’s Pizza which is delicious, and the same pizza served at the United Center and Allstate Arena.  I have had the pizza many times and it is great, especially when fresh.  Since they sell frozen Connie’s Pizza at the grocery store, I chose to pass on the pizza at the stadium.  The pizza at Allstate Arena and the United Center may be frozen too, but I know they are not taking them out of frozen pizza boxes in front of the fans.

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It was also a start studded affair.  Taraji P. Henson (from Empire, Hidden Figures, Hustle & Flow, and many other movies), Louis Farrakhan, Chance The Rapper, Will Rapaport (sideline reporter), and of course Ice Cube were in attendance.  There were others, such as Lovie Smith and former and current NBA players.

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While I cannot recommend the frozen pizza, I can recommend attending a Big 3 game.

 

PETCO PARK, SAN DIEGO, CA

 

DSC08157Petco Park is the home to Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres.  The team is now the lone professional sports team in the city.  Located near the San Diego Bay and nestled amongst many palm trees the stadium is simply beautiful.  They took the time to position it right downtown and incorporated the surrounding old buildings in the design,

 

While I was disappointed by the stadium not having the Mickey Mouse statue from the 2010 All-Star game I was still impressed by the beauty and the great detail that was placed in the design.  On two sides you see the beautiful downtown, on one side the bay, and on the other side you see the mountains.  You can’t possibly have better views.

 

When it comes to the pizza things couldn’t be more different.  The pizza is basic at best.  It is okay but not overly flavorful.  The pizza is kind of bland but not horrible.   The sauce is okay.  The cheese is edible.  The crust is hard and awful.  It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.   Did I mention the freshness?  The pizza was not fresh and I purchased it at the top of the first so I can only imagine what it would be like in the fifth or sixth innings, when I usually purchase my second slice.  In this case it wasn’t good enough for that second slice.  I ended up only eating one piece…and I was starving.

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The pizza was basic and boring at best, however, since I am a pizza fiend I will be eating it again so it is not bad enough to never touch again. If you are craving anything else I say go for it.

CHASE FIELD – PHOENIX, ARIZONA

Chase Field is the home of Major League Baseball,s Arizona Diamondbacks.  It is located in Phoenix, AZ.  It is a beautiful stadium positioned near the mountains so when at the top of the stadium or outside the mountains are in view.  Since Phoenix is ridiculously hot the stadium has a retractable roof.  However, the roof was closed before the game and opened right before first pitch when it was still one hundred degrees Fahrenheit outside, and there went the cool air.

Once you get past the excruciating heat you can begin to focus on the task at hand, watching baseball and eating pizza.  The stadium is simply magnificent and the team is pretty good too.  They also have concession stands selling pizza everywhere.

The pizza served at the stadium is Streets of New York Pizza. They serve cheese, pepperoni, and New York Special.  The New York Special has sausage, pepperoni, green peppers, and onions.  You would think they would also have sausage but they do not.  They do, however, have grated Parmesan cheese.

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The pizza is very good.  It is not the best stadium Pizza I’ve ever had but it is still good.   The pizza is also not New York pizza.  The pizza is fresh, tasty, and adequately sauced.  The cheese was not as much as I would have liked to see but okay.   I found it oddly disturbing though that they had a Panda Express in the stadium so if Pizza doesn’t suit your fancy you can always choose Panda Express.  For me, I will be choosing the pizza any day of the week,

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It also helped that they have the Mickey Mouse statue from the 2010 All-Star game in Anaheim.

 

 

 

The best stadium pizza in the United States