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January 3, 2023 [LINK / comment]

Are you ready for some football stadium photos?

Yes, sports fans, we are fast approaching the end of the NFL regular season, this coming Sunday, and the BCS Championship Game, to be held in [Houston -- NOT Las Vegas] next Monday. [The University of Washington Huskies will face the Michigan Wolverines. It so happens that I paid a visit to Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor in 2015, a day after seeing a Tigers game in Detroit, and I came to within a few miles of Husky Stadium last June.]

Lumen Field

Lumen Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks since 2002; located just north of T-Mobile Park. For two years after departing their original home at the Kingdome, the Seahawks played their home games at Husky Stadium. (Photo taken June 22, 2023.)

The Football stadiums photo gallery page has been updated with new stadiums that I saw for the first time last June. That page includes photos of fourteen current NFL stadiums, one of which (Highmark Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills) will be replaced in two or three years. It also includes photos of six former NFL stadiums. In the back of one stadium in the latter group, the Astrodome, you can see part of NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans since 2002, so let's call it 14 1/2 current NFL stadium photos.

For those who keep up with such things, the Washington "Commanders," as the team formerly known as the "Redskins" are now called, will finish in last place in the NFC East Division. [This Sunday they will play the Dallas Cowboys, who are motivated by the prospect of taking the NFC East title from the Philadelphia Eagles. Right now the winningest teams in the NFL are the Baltimore Ravens (13-3, AFC) and the San Francisco 49ers (12-4, NFC). This year's Super Bowl (LVIII) will be played in Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.]

New pro football stadium names

I was taken aback a few months ago when I was watching televised NFL games at stadiums whose names I had never heard of: Paycor Stadium? Acrisure Stadium? Empower Field?? It seems that every year there are multiple changes of pro football stadium names, perhaps even more than has been the case with MLB stadiums. And so, as a public service, here is a brief listing to clarify matters:

Home stadiums of NFL teams
Conference City, team Previous stadium name(s) Current stadium name Home stadium since
AFC-E Buffalo Bills Rich Stadium / Ralph Wilson Stad. / New Era Field Highmark Stadium 1973
AFC-E Miami Dolphins Joe Robbie Stadium / Dolphin Stad. / Landshark Stad. / Sun Life Stad. Hard Rock Stadium 1987
AFC-E New England Patriots Gillette Stadium 2002
AFC-E New York Jets New Meadowlands Stadium MetLife Stadium 2010
AFC-S Houston Texans NRG Stadium 2002
AFC-S Indianapolis * Colts Lucas Oil Stadium 2008
AFC-S Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Municipal Stadium /
AllTel Stad. / Ever Bank Field
TIAA Bank Field (1995)
AFC-S Tennessee * Titans Adelphi Coliseum / The Coliseum / LP Field Nissan Stadium 1999
AFC-N Baltimore * Ravens Ravens Stad. at Camden Yards / PSI Net Stad. / Ravens Stad. M&T Bank Stadium 1998
AFC-N Cincinnati Bengals Paul Brown Stadium Paycor Stadium 2000
AFC-N Cleveland Browns Cleveland Browns Stadium First Energy Stadium 1999
AFC-N Pittsburgh Steelers Heinz Field Acrisure Stadium 2001
AFC-W Denver Broncos Invesco Field / Sports Authority Field / Broncos Stad. at Mile High Empower Field at Mile High 2001
AFC-W Kansas City Chiefs Arrowhead Stadium GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium [1972]
AFC-W Las Vegas *** Raiders Allegiant Stadium 2020
AFC-W Los Angeles * Chargers SoFi Stadium 2020
NFC-E Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Stadium AT&T Stadium 2009
NFC-E New York Giants New Meadowlands Stadium MetLife Stadium 2010
NFC-E Philadelphia Eagles Lincoln Financial Field 2003
NFC-E Washington Commanders * Jack Kent Cooke Stadium FedEx Field 1997
NFC-S Atlanta Falcons Mercedes Benz Stadium 2017
NFC-S Carolina Panthers Ericsson Stadium Bank of America Stadium 1996
NFC-S New Orleans Saints Louisiana Superdome / Mercedes Benz Superdome Caesar's Superdome 1976
NFC-S Tampa Bay Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium 1998
NFC-N Chicago Bears Soldier Field (1971)
NFC-N Detroit Lions Ford Field 2002
NFC-N Green Bay Packers Lambeau Field 1957 *
NFC-N Minnesota Vikings U.S. Bank Stadium 2016
NFC-W Arizona ** Cardinals University of Phoenix Stadium State Farm Stadium 2006
NFC-W Los Angeles ** Rams SoFi Stadium 2020
NFC-W San Francisco 49ers Levi's Stadium 2014
NFC-W Seattle Seahawks Seahawks Stadium / Qwest Field / CenturyLink Field Lumen Field 2002

* = Past change or changes of team name, home city, etc.
(Parentheses) indicate that the stadium (or at least part of it) was built many years before the NFL team moved into it.
[Brackets] indicate subsequent correction; Arrowhead Stadium opened in 1972, not 1973 as previously shown. Thanks to Chris Knight for bringing this to my attention.

As you can see, only eight of the [32] NFL franchises have occupied a stadium with the same name for at least ten years. Six NFL stadiums were built less than ten years ago, and in all cases, they have the original names. The Football use page (which lists MLB stadiums that have been used for football, either pro or collegiate) has been updated with new stadium names, etc. I may have to make some further corrections and updates to it, however.

College football: realignment chaos

At the college level, 2023 will be remembered for the destruction of the Pacific 10 athletic conference. Prior to the 2023 season, all but four of its member institutions announced that they were joining other conferences. Next year the Pac 10 will cease to exist. Most notably, and stupidly, the Atlantic Coast Conference will absorb Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley next year, along with Southern Methodist University. This situation is getting totally out of hand, leading to confusion and angst. There's a lot of people getting rich by exploiting public sentiment subsidized by taxpayer money. Meanwhile, they are talking about paying college football athletes, doing away once and for all with the pretense that college sports are "amateurs." If that is the case, college athletic programs should not receive public funding, period.

It so happens that I paid a visit to the campus of one of those new ACC teams last June, before the announcement was made: the University of California at Berkeley. It is a beautiful campus, situated on a slope adjacent to a mountain range full of canyons.

California Memorial Stadium

California Memorial Stadium, located on the east (uphill) side of the campus in Berkeley, California. In the background you can see the landmark Sather Tower. (Photo taken June 20, 2023.)

As mentioned above, the Football stadiums photo gallery page has been updated with new stadiums that I saw for the first time last June, including the one you see here. That page now includes a total of ten college football stadiums.

NHL Winter Classic

Thanks to the Washington Post, I learned that the National Hockey League Winter Classic was held at T-Mobile Park on New Year's Day, so I updated the Other sports use page with that information, along with some other updates and corrections. I will need to recheck some of the stadium names, etc. on that page. Somehow I had previously overlooked the fact that the 2022 Winter Classic was held in Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins. In due course I will update those respective stadium pages with hockey diagram versions.

Nats sign another pitcher

In my December 31 blog post, I neglected to mention one other player signed by the Washington Nationals: veteran relief pitcher Dylan Floro. He has played for eight years for the Miami Marlins and Minnesota Twins, with very respectable numbers, but 2023 was an off year for him, so his one-year contract (worth $2.25 million) with the Nats will include some performance incentives. The Nationals' bullpen was one of their relatively strong roster areas last year, and they really need to acquire another solid starting pitcher and somebody who can slug the ball with consistency.

One faint sign of hope for the Nats' pitching rotation this year is the fact that Trevor Williams, who as of September 2 had the MLB lead for number of home runs allowed (34), did not give up any more for the rest of the month. He finished the season tied for fourth place, behind Lance Lynn (then a Dodger now a Cardinal), Lucas Giolito (then a White Sock now a Red Sock), and Jordan Lyles (with the Royals). Right behind Williams was Patrick Corbin with 33 home runs allowed. Corbin had some severe ups and downs during the 2023 season, and his place the Nats' 2024 rotation is uncertain.

January 3, 2024 [LINK / comment]

Birding out west, Part IV: The Great Northwest

(NOTE: This is the fourth and final installment in a series of blog pieces on my birding activities out west last June. The previous installment was on October 29.)

Virtually all of the birds I saw during the latter portion of my cross-country rail journey were seen while I was on board a train. (In a previous blog post I mentioned that I had seen a Barn Owl near the town of Alpine, in western Texas, from a train window.) On June 21 while heading north in the vicinity of Upper Klamath Lake in southern Oregon, I was surprised to see a Great Egret, a Bald Eagle, and perhaps 20 American White Pelicans. Elsewhere in Oregon (and in Montana two days later) I saw several Black-billed Magpies, distinguished by the bold white marks in their wings. While we were passing through the lush high mountains of Oregon through the Willamette Pass, I saw my first-ever Red-breasted Sapsucker, clinging to an evergreen tree trunk. Later on that day, in the Willamette Valley north of Eugene, I saw a White-tailed Kite, the second life bird of the day! No photos of either of those, however.

Birds 2023 June 21

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Bald Eagle, Great Egret, American Goldfinch, American White Pelican. (June 21, SW Oregon)

One day later I took a photo of the Columbia River as we approached Portland (again), on the way back from Seattle, and later noticed that the big bird in it was another Bald Eagle! While passing through the vast reaches of northern Montana the next day (June 23) I saw many grebes and ducks that I simply could not identify, unfortunately. There were probably at least a few new species among them, but I'll never know for sure. Near the town of Shelby in east-central Montana, however, I saw a number of Eurasian Collared Doves and glimpsed a Brewer's Blackbird perched on a utility wire -- the 16th and final life bird of my trip!

Brewer's Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird (June 23, near Shelby, Montana)

And that concludes the birding aspects of my big trip out west. As usual, the above photo montage, including some closeup images and additional photos, can be seen on the Wild Birds chronological photo gallery page.

That's all, folks!

2023 life birds

I hope to get caught up summarizing my bird activities in the next week or so, most notably the trip to the Outer Banks that Jacqueline and I took in August, but I can at least state for a fact that I did not see any more new bird species after my big trip in June.

Species Date Place Notes; possible earlier sightings
Eurasian Wigeon January 5, 2023 McCormick's Mill, Raphine, VA camera icon
White-faced Ibis June 14, 2023 Anahuac NWR, TX camera icon
Fulvous Whistling Duck June 14, 2023 Anahuac NWR, TX camera icon
Barn Owl June 15, 2023 east of Alpine, TX (seen from train)
Western Gull June 16, 2023 Santa Monica, CA camera icon
Allen's Hummingbird June 16, 2023 (central) Los Angeles, CA camera icon
Western Scrub-Jay June 17, 2023 (Griffith Park) Los Angeles, CA camera icon
California Towhee June 17, 2023 (Griffith Park) Los Angeles, CA camera icon
Oak Titmouse June 17, 2023 (Griffith Park) Los Angeles, CA camera icon
Chestnut-sided Chickadee June 17, 2023 (Griffith Park) Los Angeles, CA camera icon
Anna's Hummingbird June 19, 2023 (Golden Gate Park) San Francisco, CA camera icon
Pacific Wren June 19, 2023 (Golden Gate Park) San Francisco, CA
Brandt's Cormorant June 20, 2023 (Lake Merritt) Oakland, CA camera icon
Pacific Slope Flycatcher June 20, 2023 (Strawberry Canyon) Berkeley, CA camera icon
Red-breasted Sapsucker June 21, 2023 southeast of Eugene, OR (seen from train)
White-tailed Kite June 21, 2023 north of Eugene, OR (seen from train)
Brewer's Blackbird June 23, 2023 near Glasgow, MT (seen from train)
camera icon

Annual total of life birds: 17, the biggest yearly total for me since 2017, raising my lifetime total to 527.

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