Planes, Trains And Automobiles
It takes a little bit of ingenuity to find your way to Frisco, Tx. and Pizza Hut Park, but with the NCAA Division I Football Championship on the horizon this week, it is worth the trip
By David Coulson
Executive Editor/Managing Partner
College Sporting News
FRISCO, Tx. — My route to the site of the 2010, or is it the 2011 NCAA Division I Football Championship game was kind of like that 1987 Steve Martin-John Candy film "Trains, Planes and Automobiles."
That's exactly what it took to get me to this burgeoning hamlet in the North Dallas 40.
After spending the past three-and-a-half years tooling around Philadelphia, I have gotten spoiled by the efficiency of a big, northeastern city's public transportation system.
You can easily navigate Philly and its vast suburbs by subway, train, or bus. Maybe not so much by car, where vehicles chug around at a snail's pace on the Schuykill Expressway and other Philly freeways.
I also have fond memories of the shuttle bus system in Chattanooga, Tn., the quaint, southern town that hosted the Football Championship Subdivision title game from 1997-2009.
You didn't need your car for much in Chattanooga, with even the championship venue, Finley Stadium, within walking distance of many of the accommodations.
Getting around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex requires a bit more patience and ingenuity.
The mileage indicator on my iBook tells me that it is approximately 28 miles from Dallas to Frisco, though in fairness, it is probably quite a bit farther from the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to this northern suburb.
Getting from my house, northeast of Philadelphia, to the Philadelphia International Airport is always an easy hop on the R-1 or R-2 trains, meandering through plenty of suburbs, Temple University, 30th Street Station and Penn's historic Franklin Field before reaching the airport.
This trip had a stop and a change of planes in Atlanta before heading on to Dallas.
On the stop in Atlanta, there was quite literally a three-minute layover in Atlanta by the time I changed terminals, just enough time to grab a crab and shrimp wrap and a bottle of Coke from an airport restaurant before jumping on another plane.
One of my fellow passengers on the flight from Atlanta to Dallas was a Dandy Dinmont Terrier, who hung out under the seat across the aisle and showed impeccable behavior, barking just once during the two-hour trip.
Some of the regular passengers couldn't claim such civilized manners.
The owner of this pampered pooch explained that "Benny" was rescued from a local animal shelter.
Just like some of the players who find their way to the FCS ranks, Benny showed the same type of spunk and passion we've come to expect from the special form of football we have all come to enjoy.
With Tuesday evening rapidly approaching the witching hour and fading into a new day, I embarked on finding transportation for that "28-mile trek" to Frisco.
After some exhaustive false starts on the Internet — it's a good thing I'm not an offensive lineman for either Delaware, or Eastern Washington — I found a kindly, septegenarian volunteer, who guided me to a shuttle service that could get me from DFW to Frisco.
For all of those Frisco proponents who pointed out how quickly you could traverse the highways and byways between the two major Dallas airports and the northern reaches of this metropolis, I will point out that it took between an hour and 90 minutes to roll into Frisco.
While Finley Stadium was surrounded by the warehouses of the bygone industrial era in Chattanooga and you could view the nearby landmarks of Lookout Mountain and the Tennessee River, the bedroom community of Frisco is notable for its newness.
There are brick houses that go on for miles and an expansiveness of open spaces that is so familiar around north Texas.
While Pizza Hut Park is a paragon of that wicked 21st century custom of over-commercialism — then again, who has developed a better handle on commercialism than the good, old NCAA) — right down to its silly-sounding name, it is a striking stadium.
Who cares if it was built for the Dallas entry in Major League Soccer?
It is beautiful and will hopefully be filled with excited fans for Friday night's national championship game between the Blue Hens and Eagles.
It's too early to tell if those who show up will have much of a rooting interest in either Delaware, or Eastern Washington, but then everything is a science experiment here in Texas this week.
Hopefully, it won't be like another 1980s cult movie classic.
I'm not sure I would enjoy sitting through "Weird Science."