Editor’s Note: This Summer we’ll be looking at different MLL teams, taking in games in person, and talking about the overall experience you can expect at each venue, and from the league in general.
To make it easy to understand, and to keep it structured, the experience will be looked at from five different angles: Travel and Location, Game Play, Game Atmosphere, Amenity, and Aftermath. The first three are pretty simple, and Amenity refers to any extras available at the game. Aftermath refers to the experience leaving, and any thoughts that percolate during the days following the game.
Noah Hilsgen has been hitting up Charlotte Hounds games all season long, and in this post he’s detailing the experience at the Charlotte Hounds MLL games!
If you are at all a follower of lacrosse, you are probably aware that Major League Lacrosse has welcomed two new teams to the league. The first is the Ohio Machine, which features a diverse roster with former MCLA baller Connor Martin, the return to the league of Chazz Woodson, and the always awesome Brett Hughes.
Then there’s my local team, the Charlotte Hounds! The team is a mix of young guys (Jeremy Boltus, Adam Ghitelman), local guys (Billy Bitter, Ryan Flanagan, Matt Danowski), and all-stars (Stephen Berger, Matt Danowski again!), and the Hounds looked to be an exciting team this season right from the start. The franchise’s first game was against the Denver Outlaws, so even though I’ve been to almost ALL the games, I figured I’d fill you guys in on the first ever gameday experience.
We’ll start off with Travel and Location! Parking lots opened at 3pm, so naturally I wanted to get there as soon possible. Unofficially, we were the first ever tailgaters for the Hounds.
That set up lasted maybe 45 minutes before I met up with a fellow UNC Charlotte lacrosse alumni and we consolidated to form the official Jovan Miller “Jovi Nation” tailgate.
Yes, that shirt is mine. I had to represent the Nation however I could. It’s all part of that expansion franchise game atmosphere, and I must say, I love it.
We got into the stadium as they were making player introductions, so we missed some of the good stuff. The fans voted for a name for our mascot. The name ‘Blue’ was chosen. I’m indifferent to that, but mascots are not why I’m here! Plus, Blue is my boy.
The Hounds definitely have the most interesting “tunnel” to run out of in pro sports. Who else can say they have a giant spiked dog collar balloon?
Now that I’ve set the mood, let’s get to some Game Play! The game started on a very good note. Just a few minutes in, Stephen Berger scored the first goal of the game, as well as the first goal in Hounds’ history. The first quarter was fairly even. The Outlaws answered Berger’s goal with a 2 pointer, and Berger answered with another goal of his own to tie things up.
The crowd was VERY in to the game. They were loud and this made the overall gameday experience a good one. I think you’ll see larger crowds in the future, as long as the weather is good. As you can see in the pictures, it wasn’t really the greatest day, but the fans still came out in force.
I don’t think there is a bad seat in the house at Memorial Stadium. No matter where you were, you had a really good view of the game. I think I had one of the best views, though.
You can’t really beat a front row seat.
After the game, I met up with my fellow tailgaters again and hung out in the parking lot to avoid the traffic. It took a little while to decide on a postgame meeting spot. We went to a local beer garden and hung out for a bit before we had to make the trek back home.
So now that you’ve had a small taste of the Hounds’ first ever game, I want to give you a bigger taste of the Hounds’ biggest win ever in franchise history:
July 7th: Charlotte Hounds Beat The Chesapeake Bayhawks
Let me start out on this game by saying one word: WOW!
I wasn’t the first tailgater this week, which is only the second time all season that’s happened. But when I arrived to the lot at 3:40, there was already one section nearly full. This has been a trend as the season has gone on. Love seeing the support the teams keeps getting! A great home crowd is also part of the Amenity of the Hounds.
Going to a sporting event can be boring if the crowd isn’t in to the game, but the Charlotte fans are a great bonus in that sense: passionate and dedicated. It’s a great time. The Chesapeake game was also Army Appreciation Night, so there were many members of the military at the game, as well as an official enlisting of almost 150 new recruits before the game.
It was a very awe inspiring moment to take in.
There were a few other Army touches to the game that made the night a particularly fun one. I’ll be the first to say that the Hound know how to celebrate America and the Army.
They also came up with a very unique way to bring in the game ball, thanks to the Army Golden Knights.
Overall, this was THE best game I’ve been to this season. The crowd, though somewhat small (5,013) was LOUD! If you watched on ESPN3, you know what I’m talking about. Especially at the end of the game and after Dino killed it with that 2 point Game-winning goal with 30 seconds left.
Icing on the cake for the night was celebrating post game with the team at a local bar/restaurant and being there to see and hear them celebrate Jovan Miller making SportsCenter’s Top Ten plays at #2. The buzz building as the plays ticked down was great, and the whole place just exploded when Jovi’s play was aired. He definitely got robbed, though… Jovi should have been #1!
This team has made many many strides since that first game back in April. We’ll see if that translates to more wins over the next four weeks, when the Hounds are on the road.
If you happen to live in or around Charlotte, or any other MLL team for that matter, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s a great experience.
For more MLL Experience posts, check out Connor Wilson’s Long Island Lizards Experience and Paul Woody’s Chesapeake Bayhawks Experience, and be on the lookout this week for Kim Black’s MLL All-Star Game Experience post as well!