Vanderbilt’s football stadium is directly behind the parking lot of the Holiday Inn my wife and I were staying at in Nashville.
This explains why the price was $300 per night with a minimum three-night stay when Vandy was home last Saturday, and why we stayed at a different hotel that night.
The football stadium, baseball field and Memorial Gymnasium are all clustered together, so while my wife was at a work meeting this afternoon, I was going to try to see them.
Getting inside college sports facilities is a hit-or-miss proposition. Generally, there’s an open door somewhere, but the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill was impregnable.
On the other hand, an open door at Cameron Indoor arena led us to a trophy room, then a door to a conference room, then a door to a hallway, then a door to … the court.
At which point we got out as fast as we could. We figured we had pushed our luck enough.
Metal bars and locks are the enemy of any stadium excursions, and that was all I saw around the football stadium.
My luck wasn’t much better at the baseball stadium, although I did see perhaps the worst places to park in all of Nashville.
I was bound to have better luck at Memorial Gymnasium, since those buildings have lots of doors, and people are going in and out all the time.
Which is why every door was locked.
Just when I was thinking that if Terry Benedict has this kind of security in “Ocean’s Eleven,” George Clooney and his crew would have never had a chance, my luck was about to change.
“Keep walking and look right.”
As I circled the gym, pondering my luck, I realized that the back of the football stadium was down a flight of stairs, and there were no metal bars to be found.
I could get behind the gates!
But there were two guys sitting right there, and I had no idea if they’d stop me, so I told them I was visiting from out of town and wanted to see the stadium.
The advice I got was above, along with borrowing a clipboard if I needed to look official.
The baseball and basketball facilities were still a problem, but a map of the campus showed that the third-base side of the baseball field was behind the football stadium, and I knew how to get there.
And then I saw it … a door to Memorial Gymnasium propped open by a rug.
As I squeezed in, a voice — must have been the wind, even though there was no hint of a breeze — asked what I was doing.
I explained, the wind didn’t seem to object, and in I went.
By the time I was done, the rug was back in place and the door was closed. I thanked the wind as I left.
I had a feeling as to how to get there, but with that unexpected success, was it worth it to shoot my shot by going back behind the football stadium to try the baseball field?
I decided to go for it, and saw a guy come out of the building for a smoke break. I tested my theory with him, and sure enough, he said that if I walked past the construction and the brick building, there might be an open gate.
Sure enough, there was just one, but one was all it took. Even better, since it’s in the South, players work out on the field even in the middle of November.
The ballpark’s pretty nice, too.
All in all, it was a good way to spend an afternoon.