Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Storm Refugee at a Charleston Battery Game

Last Wednesday's storms tore through North Alabama and in addition to the terrible death and destruction, it knocked out power all across the Tennessee Valley.  After sitting in a darkened house for nearly 24 hours and no restoration of power in sight, it was time for my family to seek refuge elsewhere.  Fortunately, we have relatives in the Charleston, SC area and after we spent the one night in a hotel in Chattanooga hotel and still no news about the power coming back at home, they were adamant that we should take the opportunity to visit them.  I love our visits there for the many relaxing diversions available: good company, the beach, the pool, the hammock, and... the soccer.  Charleston is the home of one of the most unsung clubs in American soccer, the Charleston Battery. 

The Battery were founded in 1993 and have been a mainstay of American minor league soccer ever since.  They've won several titles and hold an very successful annual preseason tournament that attracts the best MLS clubs.  But perhaps their most important achievement is the 1999 opening of the country's first real soccer specific stadium, Blackbaud Stadium.  The 5,100 seater has two stands and an in-stadium Pub that is the closest thing to a soccer museum that can be found in the South (and perhaps the USA now that the Soccer Hall of Fame has closed its doors).   

Shortly after setting off from Chattanooga to Charleston, I got a call from my uncle asking if I was interesting in a trip to the stadium on Saturday night.  "Of course!"  It was Kick for the Cure Night where the home side would wear pink to recognize cancer survivors, and we had great seats for the match against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

The night was fantastically cool and despite numerous opportunities the home side could not find a goal and the visitors were happy with a scoreless draw.  But it was another great visit to one of the best venues for soccer in the South.

Here are a handful of photos from the night.
Kids sit on the cannon outside the stadium gates
The Battery Supporters Group, The Regiment, raffle off a jersey.  I didn't win.  :(
Stadium food. Yummy!
The Stadium's Pub: The Three Lions
Line-ups for Pink Night
The Beer Garden behind the goal.  Every stadium needs one of these.

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