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Early last week I saw an email come through from a co-worker who had an extra ticket to the Flames-Leafs game for last Thursday night and I figured what the heck, time to do something fun during the week and get away from my apartment.

Luckily my timing was perfect and I was the first to reply so I got the ticket.

This was quite a different experience than the Flames game I attended last year with a group from the office since it turns out that the co-worker had gotten the tickets from his sister who had gotten them from work and thus they were far from the cheap seats we had occupied the last time. Instead there were in row 9, just inside of the blue line of the Calgary offensive zone. Wow!

And…they each had a face value of CAD $252. Thankfully I wasn’t paying for this!

The craziness didn’t end with the price tag. When we got to the rink we also had access to the club level for dining and drinks before, during, and after the game, Since it was quite crowded we opted to eat standard arena fare and only get a drink at the bar prior to the game. I think that’s the first time I’ve actually drank wine at a hockey game,

We also could have ordered drinks from our seats and had them delivered. I was tempted to do it just to say that I did and opted against that since at the time I was ready to order it was intermission and a trip to the ladies room seemed like a good idea. And even that was a different experience. There were no lines.

Of course this whole experience did get me thinking a bit on how crazed the whole sports industry is that they can actually charge that much for a ticket to a single game, and in this case a game between two of the worst teams in the league. Spectator sports really aren’t for the family any more and days such as those that I enjoyed as a kid going to multiple NBA and MLB games each year are long gone.

I know there are many arguments for the high salaries and the high ticket prices that result from those salaries, but it is really very crazy.  Will it ever stop? Or will more and more corporations buy all of the seats so that the only way someone can go to a game is if they happen to work for the right man?

Will there be any positive side effects of this trend, such as minor league attendance increases? Or will losing teams begin to struggle to fill stadiums thus making the event even more out of reach of the masses as television broadcasts are cancelled?

Or perhaps we will turn to other more intellectual forms of entertainment and the various arts industries will be the winners. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously enjoy sports and had a great time at the game, but I do generally remember the details of a play I have seen much longer than those of a game. And the discussions afterwards are much more stimulating,

Many of you know that I spent last winter traveling between Chicago where I live and Calgary, Canada where I was on assignment for work. And anyone who has been reading my blog over the past few months knows that I spent April through August in Brazil, also for work. This meant of course that I went from winter in Calgary to winter in Brazil (don’t laugh it does actually get cold there).

Now here is the kicker, only a few short days after returning from Brazil I was headed back to Calgary for another assignment that would once again last though the winter. I was beginning to wonder who I had ticked off to seal such a fate.

Then again, maybe things weren’t that bad.

Despite that fact that it can get down to -30C in Calgary, having been raised in Wisconsin, and now living in Chicago I was familiar with cold and I have the right clothes and accessories to survive it, including my floor length down jacket that one of my co-workers refers to as my sleeping bag. And, winter does have a number of great sporting options two of which (curling and bob-sledding) I ran out of time before trying last year and one (snow boarding) that I tried and want to get better at. Not to mention skating which I actually know how to do having played hockey for a number of years.

And there is the location, the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, a most fantastic place, with Banff only a little more than an hour away by car, and plenty of other mountain attractions (Canmore and Three Sisters) even closer. Plus I had wanted to try to get to the Burgess Shale last year and also ran out of time.

Sadly, due to having been in Brazil for four months I have not been able to spend a weekend in Calgary yet as I have many domestic things that I put off that I must now attend to.

So while there was quite a sense of déjà-vu as I moved into an apartment across the hall (read mirror image) of one I had been in for part of the time last year and as I visited three stomping ground places within the first week (Basil, Nandos, Buchanans) there was also a sense of “did I really go to Brazil or was that all just an amazing dream.”

Speaking of Brazil, I know that I mentioned this in some of my blog posts when I was there, but yes, Virginia, they do have a winter, at least in Porto Alegre. And while you might not consider an overnight low of 0C very cold, consider that said low is accompanied by buildings with tile floors and without central heating. Also consider that POA is quite humid, so a chill can get into your bones that can be quite hard to shake.

Of course here again, the weather did not prohibit me from having a wonderful time as those of you know who followed this blog while I was there. Remember, I didn’t want to come home when I did, and that was before I knew that I was heading back to Canada.


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