NYC man travels to his ice rinks of dreams
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Even before stepping inside Hockey Venue No. 124 on Saturday, Erik Castro knew something about Ralph Engelstad Arena. "It was the hardest-to-get quality ticket I've ever had," the New York City resident said. "That says a lot...
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Even before stepping inside Hockey Venue No. 124 on Saturday, Erik Castro knew something about Ralph Engelstad Arena.
"It was the hardest-to-get quality ticket I've ever had," the New York City resident said. "That says a lot about the loyalty of the fan base."
Few, if any, people know as much about hockey arenas as the 35-year-old Castro. For the past six years, he has chased his dream of watching a game in all of the top arenas in North America. He is getting there, although he's not making up as much ground as you'd think because new buildings keep popping up on the landscape.
That's why he made this weekend's trip to the Northland. He wanted to see Bemidji State's Glas Fieldhouse before the Beavers start playing in their new arena next season. So, he flew into Grand Forks, drove to Bemidji for Friday's game and attended the UND-Wisconsin tilt Saturday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, which he originally planned to visit during the 2005 World Juniors.
He wasn't disappointed.
"Without question, this is the No. 1 college hockey arena," Castro said. "It's definitely in the top five of all arenas if not No. 1 or No. 2."
Castro was especially impressed by the student fans. "They're smart hockey fans here," he said. "It's not just a night out here, it's following the boys. It's like the Sioux are part of them."
That covers wide territory, because he has been at 22 of the 25 current NHL arenas, more than half of the Division I college facilities and most of the American, East Coast and Ontario hockey leagues. He has hit arenas in 34 of the states, including Hawaii.
"When I'm done here, I'd like to continue this in Europe," he said.
Castro already has a head start, having attended games in the United Kingdom, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and Finland. He has been at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., of 1980 Winter Olympics fame; the 2006 Olympics facilities in Turin, Italy; and special events such as the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs' stadium. This year's Winter Classic is at Boston's Fenway Park, which he plans to attend.
Castro lives and works in New York City as a European trader for the United Kingdom investment bank. Madison Square Garden, the 40-year home to the NHL's New York Rangers, is his home arena, 23 minutes away from his home.
The Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald and the News Tribune are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.