Saturday, December 20, 2008

On the road: Columbia

David & Marian Cortesi

The State House

Wally Mersereau opines Columbia is a charming town. It's a smallish University town, the university being the U of SC. When we arrived we had time to check out the South Carolina statehouse (another missing from our collection).A helpful and knowledgeable docent showed us around, explaining how the interior had recently been restored from years of neglect and ill-planned remodelling to fully reflect the architect's Victorian vision.Which included some chandeliers right out of a "steampunk" fantasy.Outside, we noted the stars set in the masonry to show where Union cannonballs damaged the walls of the still-unfinished building.This helpful local decided to show us around.He pointed out where the Union cannoneers had also knocked the foot off George Washington's walking-stick.

Zoo and Gardens

We spent Friday morning at the local zoo and botanical garden, on a woodland walk.The animals were not impressed with us. But we liked best a free-range lizard on a christmas bow.

Gamecock Arena

Later we walked to the arena. This is a new and very nice facility, and it exceeds requirements for basketball games and such trivia, but the important things are not up to snuff, by which I mean, the food. Although they do have that sine qua non of good arena noshing, Dippin' Dots, the "chicken tenders" were not, the Philly Cheesesteak was grossly oversalted, and Wally would like it known that they didn't have either pickles or relish at the condiment bar. And, they have pretty near the cheesiest mascot costume around. Actually the mascot had a lot of good moves, but that floppy beak! And that skirt! OK, one more thing for Dawn Staley to fix.Add Image

Friday, December 19, 2008

On the road: Charlotte, NC

David & Marian Cortesi
En route from Durham to Columbia we stopped for lunch in Charlotte, NC, said to be the 2nd-largest financial center after NYC, where the tops of the many skyscrapers were disappearing in the afternoon fog.

Downtown was decorated for the season with cheerful reindeer on every lamppost.The center of downtown Charlotte is The Square, which is defined by four heroic statues. One is a prospector who appears to be dumping his paydirt onto a dude whose bow-tie is too tight,One is a stalwart worker sitting on an eagle with a bow-tie,One is a mother & child,And we forget the fourth because we were busy reflecting on modern art.Tomorrow: Columbia, SC.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the road: Raleigh

By Dave & Marian Cortesi The morning after the Duke game was (appropriately) dull gray and gloomy. We drove from Durham to Raleigh to bag us another state capitol. We have pictures of 40 or so of them. In North Carolina, the only official occupants of the Old State House are the Governor and Lieutenant Gov. Inside there was a surprise. All the way up on the third floor is a charming old State Library, very nicely preserved and displayed. Also on the third floor is a similarly cozy and appealing State Geologist's office. Below these are the original legislative chambers. This was the House of Representatives. North Carolina has over 100 Reps (which seems a superfluity, but I'm sure they feel a need...) and you can see why they felt a bit cramped back in 1960: This is what they had built for them by Edward Durrel Stone, who also did the Kennedy Center in DC and many other famous buildings. Finished in 1963. It's a very nice building inside, with four interior garden courts and spacious and imposing legislative chambers. This is where the Reps sit--quite an improvement over the old one. Look at those chandeliers. Those double-cone lamps are just soooo 60s, aren't they? Admit it, you had a fixture like that in some apartment you lived in. Here's Marian, trying out the Grand Staircase (carpet for official use only): The neigborhood around the capitol has a lot of impressive 1890's houses. Here's a detail from one. We also visited the Mordecai House historic park and were given a very pleasant tour but the weather was too gloomy for pictures. Tomorrow: a stopover in Charlotte.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sign up for Oregon Soon!

Currently about 25 people are signed up to attend the games at Oregon and Oregon State as a group. Group activities organized by Don Anderson include:
  • Thursday Jan. 22nd, before the game, a pizza party with local Stanford alums;
  • Later on thursday, sitting together in a block of seats in Mac Court;
  • Friday Jan 23rd, a "happy hour" get-together in Eugene;
  • Followed by a group dinner at a restaurant in Eugene;
  • Followed by a fireside chat with Amy back at the Valley River Inn;
  • Saturday Jan 24th, a group dinner in Corvallis before the OSU game;
  • After which, sitting together for the OSU game.
If you want to join the group for any of these activities, you need to let us know by December 28th. You can email or speak personally to Don at our 12/13 home game. Of course you are free & welcome to make your own arrangements for this trip; look for trip-planning info on our Travel page.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Last Chance - Going to Duke, South Carolina, or Tennessee?

Time is getting short if we are going to pre-buy tickets for the games of the East Coast swing: Duke, South Carolina, and Tennessee. If you intend to go to one of those games, and you have not already emailed to say so, please do it now. Or if you did email and you've changed your plans or number of seats since (or just want to say "hi!"), ditto. Of course, if you'd rather handle your own arrangements, that's fine too. We have a wealth of trip info on the FBC Travel Page and you can get to each of the host schools' websites via the Schedule Page.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Woe in Waco

by Wally Mersereau
To avoid the $7 access fee to watch video coverage of the Stanford game on the Baylor website and the nuisance of having to cancel the access subscription after the game, five astute Fast Break Club members made the journey to Waco to see the game in person and to provide booster support for the team. It’s always interesting to experience the flavor of a new locale and to observe opposing team fan behavior in its native habitat. An additional advantage was the opportunity to find out where Waco is, along with the challenge of figuring out how to get there (hint: the only direct flights in or out are to Dallas or Houston). Those making the trip were Dave and Marian Cortesi, Kellee Noonan, Doug Lee and me. Baylor claims to be the oldest university in Texas and the largest Baptist university in the U.S. On its largely red-brick campus are the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and the Texas Ranger Museum. The city of Waco began in 1849, early in Texas statehood. Waco is located half-way between Dallas-Fort Worth to the north and Austin to the south—about a 1 ½-hour drive from either direction. In addition to our contingent, there was good representation from the Clyburn and Ogwumike families (including Nneka's sister Chiney!) ... ... plus Jeanette's mother. But we clearly were in “Bear Country” as the sign outside Ferrell Center proclaimed. Our guesses at actual attendance ranged from 5,500 to 6,500 which were reasonably close to the official attendance of 7,136. The official attendance for last year’s Cal game at Baylor was 5,659, so Stanford should take pride in outdrawing Cal in Waco by about 1,500. Cal plays Baylor in Berkeley on December 22 which will provide a comparison of scores. The capacity of Ferrell Center is 10,284, and it’s a nice round arena with comfortable green seats. Before the game we agreed that Stanford would have to play better than it did against Minnesota and we were hopeful that it would. Unfortunately, that was not the case. We felt lucky at half-time that Baylor only led by one point, 36-35. 
It seemed that if Tara made some of her usual half-time adjustments that Stanford could improve and pull the game out. Kellee told me not to worry, and I passed on her confidence to Marian and Dave. About halfway through the ever-worsening second half, Marian asked if Kellee had said when we could stop worrying. With about 4 minutes remaining, Baylor started to use the full shot clock which resulted in Tara telling Lindy to foul intentionally which Lindy diligently did four times. Baylor made all 8 of the resulting free throws while Stanford remained relatively ineffective in scoring, leading to a depressing conclusion. When Nneka fouled out of the game, she left the court by heading over to give a pat on the back and a brief comment to Kim Mulkey who had tried hard to recruit her for Baylor. Kim needs no recruiting sympathy. A Baylor fan pointed out to us 2009 Baylor recruit Brittney Griner who was in attendance. Brittney is 6-7 and is the #1 rated 2009 prospect by ESPN, part of a highly rated 2009 class at Baylor. On Monday I attended the last two games of a 3-day women’s basketball tournament at the University of Texas in Austin. In the first game Dayton beat our St. Mary’s Gaels 68-62 after St. Mary’s led in each half by up to 12 points. In the second game #13 Texas defeated #25 Old Dominion 78-44. Brittainey Raven of Texas is an athletic player who scored the first 12 Texas points and had 20 total points. Attendance was about 4,000. The Texas-ODU score was reported on Austin radio and TV on Tuesday morning. Texas has a Fast Break Club whose members were wearing Texas-brown tee-shirts with each player’s number and name on the back in an artistic pattern. Life-size color group photos of this season’s Texas men’s and women’s teams are displayed in the arena. Before the game most of the Texas fans stood and gave the raised right arm Horn salute as the band played “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You”. Some gave the salute whenever a Texas player was at the free throw line. Gail Goestenkors, in her second season at Texas, gave the salute to the fans when she was introduced. Except for the outcome of the Stanford game, this was an interesting, educational and enjoyable trip.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Who's going to Oregon?

Don Anderson writes as follows

I am once again this year charged with organizing some FBC group activities for the trip to Oregon. I have not yet ordered game tickets or begun to organize group dinners, happy hours, etc., but I need to gather information now. I haven't decided for sure whether to do up front purchase of blocs of tickets this year; the results last year were problematic. But I'd like to assess interest and then decide how to proceed.

As noted on the Travel page, the games in Oregon this coming year will be:

  • Oregon Thursday 1/22, 7 pm in Eugene
  • Oregon State Saturday 1/24, 7 pm in Corvallis

I need to know:

  • Will you be making the Oregon trip this year? If so: how many tickets (seats) would you want to order for the Oregon game, Thursday 1/22 (If I decide to buy them in advance)?
  • How many tickets (seats) would you want to order for the Oregon State game, Saturday 1/24?
  • Are you interested in attending a happy hour in Eugene on Friday 1/23? (how many of you)
  • Are you interested in attending a group dinner in Eugene on Friday 1/23? (how many of you)
  • Are you interested in attending a fireside chat with one of the coaches on Friday 1/23? (how many of you)
  • Are you interested in attending a group dinner in Corvallis on Saturday 1/24? (how many of you)

Once I get a preliminary idea via your responses, I may order a bloc of tickets for each game, and begin organizing dinners, fireside chat, etc.

If we do a group dinner in Coravallis, I will try to find an alternative to last year's choice (suggestions welcome). I would likely use the same restaurant in Eugene as last year, unless there are strong objections and someone has an alternative that they know is wonderful.

To reply to Don's questions, just email

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Who's going to Hawaii? Duke? Tennessee?

Going to Hawaii?

The FBC Travel Committee would like to get a count of the fans who are going to the tournament in Hawaii, and especially a count of those who are interested in joining the Thanksgiving dinner with the teams at the team hotel on Thanksgiving day.

If you are going to Hawaii please email and mention whether you are interested in the dinner. We will use your return address to notify you of times, costs, and any group plans.

Going to Duke? Tennessee?

We need a count of those who are definitely planning to make the East Coast swing through Duke, South Carolina and Tennessee. The reason is tickets: for both Duke and Tennessee it is best to order seats in advance. If there is enough interest we can organize a block buy.

If you are going to one or more of the games at Duke, South Carolina or Tennessee, please email and let us know your plans. We will use your return address to notify you of times, costs, and any group plans.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Cheaper flights to Hawaii

Travelling fan André writes to alert us,
In case there are FBCers still undecided about going to the Hawai'i tournament, I just discovered that the price for the flights on Hawaiian Airlines from Oakland to Hawaii are now $200 (11/26 & 11/28) up to $265 each way on specific dates. To get the $200 price on the return flight, one would have to stay until Friday 12/5, but there are other flights for $265 and $255 on Wednesday 12/3 and Thursday 12/4 respectively.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Travel Committee Needs Travellers

Do you regularly travel to away games? The FBC Travel Committee is short of members for the coming season and needs a few seasoned travellers to help out. Each member of the Travel Committee volunteers to coordinate one away trip, and does whatever they reasonably can do to encourage other FBC members to take that trip and to enjoy the experience. The things a Trip Coordinator does may include:
  • Researching the most convenient or economical air schedules and
  • Researching things to do on off-days - for posting on the Travel Page;
  • For busy venues, researching ticket prices, and web links or phone numbers for purchasing;
  • Answering occasional email queries about the trip;
  • Keeping an email list of people planning to go and letting them know your cell#;
  • Getting in touch with Amy to schedule a pre- or post-game talk when possible.
Then, during "your" trip, you make yourself accessible to other FBC members to answer questions and try to make people feel included. The Trip Coordinator is not responsible for fans' enjoying the trip (FBC travellers are a savvy, independent bunch anyway!). You simply try in small ways to help them enjoy it. Sometimes (and this is strictly optional) a Trip Coordinator will arrange a group dinner, happy hour, or other event. Also sometimes the Trip Coordinator will take ticket orders, get tickets and distribute them to other FBC members. But this is a major time commitment (just ask Don Anderson, Fran Liu, or Dal Miranda, who've done it) and is not required. This year's road trips (and coordinators) are:
  • Sunday 11/16, Baylor in Waco TX
  • 11/28-30, tournament in Honolulu
  • 12/16-21, Duke, S.Carolina & Tennessee (Dave Cortesi)
  • 1/2-4, ASU and AU
  • 1/18, Cal bus trip
  • 1/22-24, UO & OSU (Don Anderson)
  • 2/6-8, WSU & UW (Peter Elderon)
  • 2/27-3/1, UCLA & USC
  • 3/12-15 , PAC-10 tourney in L.A.
As you can see, we can use coordinators for two LA trips, Texas, Hawaii, Arizona, and the Cal game. If you are planning to make one of those trips and want to share the excitement with your fellow FBC members, email right away! Go (go go go) Cardinal!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

One Fan's Itinerary

Wallace D. Mersereau writes saying,
I've made my reservations for the 3-game trip in December. The return date is in Christmas week, but so far seat availability is ok although I expect it will start shrinking soon and that fares may consequently rise. I found the best options from SFO are on American, Delta and Northwest. United/US Air also serves the area, but fares were in the $1,200-$2,000 range. The other airlines were in the $450-$700 range. I chose American through DFW, flying into RDU and returning from TYS.
When we have some kind of head-count for the Tennessee game we can purchase a block of tickets.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

First look at the Duke-USC-Tennessee trip

(Updated with game times 9/3/08; check the FBC Travel page for activities.) The longest trip of the season for fans (and possibly the hardest for the team) is the pre-Christmas excursion:
  • Tuesday 12/16, 7:30pm at Duke
  • Friday 12/19 at University of South Carolina (USC) in Columbia, SC
  • Sunday 12/21, 7pm at Tennessee in Knoxville
None of the game times have been set as of this date, so it would not be safe to book air travel as yet. But we've started looking at the logistics. The times of the Duke and Tennessee games are known and we can start booking. The first question—and it has no easy answer—is whether to fly between the three cities or drive. Here's a Google map of the route. It's a total of 500 miles, mostly freeway. There is plenty of time (2 days to get from Durham to Columbia, 1 full day for Columbia to Knoxville), and what else are you gonna do with it? On the other hand, it's winter and might be snowing. Next question: how to get to Duke in time for the game. Presumably a Tuesday game will be at 7pm or later; but The game is at 7:30 but there are no, zero, nonstop flights from SFO/SJC/OAK to RDU. If you take the earliest flight on 12/16 you will get into RDU between 4 and 6pm local time, and that assumes your connection in DEN, DFW, or JFK went smoothly. To be sure of being in time for the game without losing a workday you need to fly a red-eye. Employing the very useful flight search engine we find you can fly JetBlue from SJC (9pm) to RDU (11am) for $275, or OAK (9pm) to RDU (10am) for $195. Those are the only 1-stops; there is a plethora of 2-stop flights (yuckkk) from all three local airports. Question number 3: how do you get out of Knoxville on a Sunday afternoon? At this point we suppose the game will be at 1pm, but that is not settled. If it were to be on national TV (and since it is a rematch of last year's national finalists, it might well be) the time could be 10, 12, 3, or anything else, all depending on what hole ESPN needs to fill in its east-coast sunday schedule. But for now, assume 1pm. Game over 3-ish. Suppose you had gotten rid of the rental car earlier in the day and cabbed (or walked) to Thompson-Boling arena. Allow 120 minutes to get from the door of the arena to TYS and onto a plane. Bad news: that ain't gonna happen! The game is at 7pm (surely for television) and the last flights out of TYS to anywhere leave at 4:50pm. Continental to SFO via Cleveland departs at 4:50; United to SFO via ORD and DEN pushes back at 4:30. What-ho; another hotel night in Knoxville... Do you suppose we could get seats on the team charter??? Please feel free to append comments to this post! How do you feel about driving that route in winter? Do you have any good ideas on getting out of Knoxville on a Sunday? Click the comment button and speak up.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Internet Travel Advice podcast

The Cnet podcast The Real Deal covers travel web sites this week (of 7/16/08). In this 40-minute discussion of websites for travel planning, the hosts discuss useful-sounding travel sites that I'd never heard of, such as TripIt (which organizes all your confirmation emails into a single itinerary) or SeatGuru (tells you which seats to use or avoid on specific planes), and many others. Listen to The Real Deal show #119, "Travel Resources" and check the show notes for links.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hawaii Tournament update

We are finally in touch with the UH staff and getting info on the Thanksgiving tournament. We are keeping our travel page updated with the latest info; check it often. We are told that the lineup of participating teams may have some changes coming soon. We are sure now that no games will be played on Thursday 11/27. Otherwise, the game schedule is not set (but in prior years, the championship game has always been 5:30pm Sunday). The UH will host a Thanksgiving dinner for all the teams at the Marriott on Thursday, and boosters will be welcome. Time and cost to be announced later, but start thinking now if you want to travel on the Thursday in time to get to the Marriot by (presumably) suppertime.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Spokane Experiences

Some snaps from the Spokane Weekend (click image for larger version). Springlike weather Saturday afternoon in Riverfront Park. Amusing sculpture on steps of Spokane Arena. Crowds milled around waiting for will-call to open. Halftime Saturday: Cully explains to David why Vandy is "in a heap of trouble." Sunday morning we looked out onto fat flakes of snow. It made all the trees look as if they'd been flocked. But an hour later, it had all melted or fallen off. Monday it was clear for a look at the Spokane Falls. Before the Maryland game the Arena staff were assiduously cleaning off footmarks while the Cardinal warmed up. The announced crowd was 6,500 but it looked like more. Wonder how many copies of this image are on the internet? We flew home, appropriately, in a blaze of glory. Noting mile-long swaths of wildflowers near Patterson.
—Dave & Marian Cortesi

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Final Four Fan Activities

News from Eileen Roche, augmented with a few links, ordered by time of occurrence:

Team Send-off Thursday 4/4

Come to the courtyard between Maples and Arrillaga at 10:45am to bid the team bon voyage.

“Official” Fan Site

The NCAA has designated “official” fan gathering places in Tampa. The gathering place for fans who attended the Spokane Regional is Tinatapa's at 615 Channelside Drive, just a few blocks from the arena, St. Pete Times Forum. (Restaurant's official site with annoying flash intro; Tampa Bay Online Restaurant Review) If you'd prefer to gather with fans from the other three regional sites, they are all located at the same address, 615 Channelside Drive: Stump's Supper Club, Howl at the Moon (same web site as Stump's), and Splitsville Lanes which has billiards and bowling.

Team Hotel

The team is staying at the Westin Harbour Island (725 South Harbour Island Blvd, about 1/2 mile from the Forum and Tinatapa's). It's booked up, forget it.

NCAA Activities

The official NCAA Fan Guide to the Final Four is here. This is full of great info including many activities around the games.

Shootaround With Beth & Debbie

The Women's Basketball Coaching Association (WBCA) sponsors a weekly podcast, “Shootaround with Beth (Mowins) & Debbie (Antonelli)”. They will be recording an episode live on Friday 4/4 at 10pm in the Tampa Marriott Waterside's Grand Ballroom foyer (2nd floor). This is open to the public; there will be special guests, giveaways, and cash bars available.

Kay Yow 4K Run

On Saturday 4/5 at 8am there will be a 4Kay (“for Kay”) run honoring Kay Yow and other woman battling breast cancer. Time schedule and registration are here.

Open Practice and Autograph Sessions

Open practice periods will be held at the St. Pete Times Forum between 11am and 4:15pm on Saturday 4/5. No charge for entry. It is not known which team is in which time slot. Autograph sessions should be available after a team has practiced; stop by the forum that morning and check.

WBCA High School All-American Game

The high school All-Americans, whose roster includes our own Nneka Ogwumike, play at the University of South Florida Sun Dome at 4:30pm Saturday 4/5. Some information and a link to purchase tickets ($15) here. (Besides Nneka, our Sarah Boothe is on the honorable mention list, but was not invited to play in this game.)

Forum on Women in College Sports

The NCAA is sponsoring a day-long forum on women in sports, with presentations on such topics as "Barriers to Women in Intercollegiate Athletics," "Portrayal of Female Athletes in the Media," and a keynote address by Sheila Johnson, President of the Washington Mystics. This will take place on Sunday 4/6. This link is for free registration.

Pregame Rally and Reception

Stanford University Athletic Department is sponsoring a pregame event for all Cardinal fans starting at 4pm on Sunday 4/6. This is at the team hotel, the Westin Harbour Island, in the Harbour Island Ballroom. Appetizers and no-host bar provided. At 4:45 we will move outside to send the team off with the help of the band. Then the party continues until 6pm. (The first game, ours, begins at 7pm a short distance away from the hotel.) If you want to enter the ballroom and nosh on the appetizers, please RSVP to Lisa Ortiz, lortiz @ (anyone's welcome outside with the band).

Rally Tuesday

Assuming Stanford advances Sunday, we will have a pre-game party Tuesday, 4/8 from 5:30 to 7:30pm at Tinatapa's (RSVP this one as well).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Final Four Tickets

Call (or go to) the Stanford Ticket Office (1-800-STANFORd (1-800-782-6367[3])) now to reserve seats in the Stanford section in Tampa. Price is $162 each plus $6 service fee. Tickets are available only for "Stanford Affiliates" and Season Ticket Holders. If that isn't you, consider Cully's Advice: Bob Cullenbine says as long as you are looking for single seats, just show up outside the arena; there is always somebody giving away single seats. Or go to where "upper corner" seats are going for $110.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spokane Ticket Sources

Here is the seating chart for the Spokane Arena. The Stanford seats are located in sections ... they don't know yet! As of thursday, they say they will not have assigned sections until they get there. In other news, we hear that Spokane Arena is "nearly sold out." For tickets in whatever section the NCAA finally assigns, call 1-800-STANFORd (1-800-782-6367[3]) and keep hitting "1" at every opportunity until it rings through. If you don't get satisfactory seats from Stanford you can try these:
  • Pittsburgh: 1-800-643-7488
  • Vanderbilt: 1-877-44-VANDY (1-877-448-2639)
  • Maryland's web site
Remember, anyone can append comments on this blog (just below here). If you find something out, please do add a comment! Responding to one comment: the team hotel has usually been the Doubletree, but it has been booked up for some time.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Planning for the Regionals

According to all the pundits, the Cardinal will be a #1 or possibly #2 seed at the Spokane Regional, to be held in Spokane, WA on March 29/31 (Sat/Mon). However, the NCAA selection committee is notoriously unpredictable and one must always allow for the possibility they would go nuts and send the team to New Orleans or to Oklahoma City (Greensboro NC seems too unlikely for even the NCAA). We won't know for absolutely sure until Selection Monday. And of course, there is always the requirement that we (whisper it) have to win two games at Maples first. All right, supposing our team is indeed slated for Spokane, how do you get game tickets? You can order tickets right now from the Spokane Arena website. Of course there is no telling where you will end up sitting (here is their seating chart). The NCAA will not allocate a block of seats for Stanford itself to sell until after the second round game has been played at Maples on March 24th. Those tickets will go on sale at the Stanford Ticket Office the next day—so clear your calendar for Tuesday morning 3/25. Do plan to order these right away that day. Or if you can't, then note the other three schools who are headed for Spokane, some of whom will be farther away and thus would likely have spare tickets. We'll post their ticket office numbers if we can. If you go through either Travelocity or Expedia you can find hotels and motels in the Spokane area which will allow you to cancel a reservation more than 24 hours ahead with no more than a service charge. But read the fine print carefully. If you are in doubt about their policies, it's a good idea to call the hotel's 800 number directly instead of going through the web intermediary. (The team hotel is probably the DoubleTree but forget it, it's booked.) A very useful tip from Su Schaffer: If you book a Senior Citizen fare through Southwest Airlines then if you need to cancel the reservation, your prepaid money is available as a credit with SWA for another flight (like, to New Orleans...). Spokane is a pleasant, compact city and the Spokane Arena is a 3/4-mile walk from the center of town, so it is not essential to rent a car for this trip. However, you will have all day Sunday 3/30 and most of Monday 3/31 to kill, so perhaps you will want a car to go sightseeing. Peter Elderon compiled a good list of local attractions in our FBC Fan Plan. Looking further ahead, the Final Four is in Tampa on April 6/8 (Sun/Tue). Again, the Stanford ticket office will not have seats to sell until the morning of 4/1. Getting to Florida from either SJC or SFO is a tedious business, with very few direct flights. In looking for flights you should investigate all four regional airports: Tampa itself, Fort Meyers (which has many flights, apparently it's a big cruise hub), Orlando (many flights owing to Disney World) and Miami. Figure a 2-hour drive to Tampa from either Orlando or Ft. Myers, and 4 hours from Miami. Most of the large hotels in Tampa are already booked for that weekend but there are lots of outlying ones. Note you can add comments to this entry. If you know anything about these trips, please do!
—Dave Cortesi

Monday, March 3, 2008

Three Fans in Pullman

by Peter Elderon
Peter, Wally Mersereau and Su Schaffer celebrate
Sunday was the second game for this week's FBC road trip, and on Saturday, the hotel in Spokane was basketball central: the St. Mary's team was there to play Gonzaga in a huge game for both teams and the WCC; the B State High School Basketball Championship was ongoing; and then the Stanford team showed up. There was not enough room in the inn, and (KZSU announcer) Jake (Kelman) and a few others had to wait 2 hours before getting a room. While there was still some snow on the ground, winter was retreating, and Sunday was a bright sunny day for driving over the high plains from Spokane to Pullman. This area is apparently the lentil capital of the country with Pullman as host to the yearly National Lentil Festival. The "crowd" in Pullman was somewhat sparse (a reported attendance of 675 in an arena that looks like it could hold 15,000 or more), and only 3 members of the FBC made the trip. These 3 were easily outnumbered by parents of current and former players. However, this meant we all had very good seats for what became an historic day for Candice and Stanford Women's Basketball. Candice started out strong with a series of 3s, but with about 5 minutes to go in the half, the game well in our control and "only" 14 points, she took a seat on the bench. We speculated whether it was likely she would score a point in the second half, but with under 2 minutes to go, Candice was needed back in the game. She promptly scored on a driving lay-up and was fouled. The three of us jumped up to cheer extra loud, but the game went on: she sank the free throw, and then the stadium announcer halted the game to explain why we three were cheering. The ref gave her the game ball, and she somewhat sheepishly handed it to Cissy for safekeeping while the whole crowd gave her a generous round of applause. Unfortunately, the first half also had one very down moment a bit later: Jayne and Heather Molzen, a big, tough player for WSU, got entangled while fighting for a rebound and both fell to the floor where they were clearly hurt. The refs called a foul on each. While Jayne's right hand seemed hurt, Heather appeared to have perhaps broken her wrist or forearm. (Molzen did not return to the game, but fortunately Jayne came out after half-time with only a bandage on her right thumb and played for a few minutes; she rested once the game was clearly won.)
As yet another indicator of why we love Candice, when she was taken out a little bit later, the first thing she did was go down to the end of the bench and ask Jayne if she was ok. The second half was somewhat uneventful, but Stanford did win and thereby clinched the Pac-10 championship. However, Su had gone to the Kinko's near the hotel in Spokane and had made a very nice sign to honor the occasion, and right after the game, the team posed with it to honor Candice once again. - Peter
Wally and Su join the team in celebrating with Candice

Monday, January 21, 2008

Phoenix Car Rentals

Dave Cortesi

On our latest AZ trip we were, if not exactly burned by Thrifty Car Rentals, at least lightly singed by them. We'd used Travelocity months ahead to reserve a "premium" car at a very reasonable $35/day. But when we returned the car the rate had somehow ... swollen ... into a bottom line of $424 for four days. I'm going to break this down and then suggest how to avoid some of it. (And, please don't be shy about adding your comments at the end!)

The Bill

Here's the bill, slightly expanded from the indecipherable abbreviations of the computer printout, based on the explanation from the nice young man at the counter (large blank space courtesy of Blogger)

Rental fee $35/day times 4$140.00
Loss Damage Waiver $19.99/day79.96
Customer Facility Charge $4.50/day 18.00
"Tripsaver" at $4.99/day19.96
State car rental tax 36.84
State tax 5%17.39
County Stadium Tax (3.25%)11.62
Prepaid fuel 65.78
Kind of amazing, huh? And not pleasant to find out that your $35/day car had turned into a $106/day car. Now let's take some of those items in detail.

The Infamous LDW

The Loss Damage Waiver is a special insurance policy that protects the renter from owing the rental car company for lost revenue. Suppose the car is damaged, doesn't matter whose fault. Your own, or the other party's, insurance would kick in to cover the cost of repair. But typical policies do not reimburse the rental company for the loss of income while the car is off the road being repaired. So in theory at least, they could come after you for the value of the rental for every day it's in the shop. Or you can kick in $20/day up front and they'll promise not to do that. I have a query in to our insurance company (CSAA) about whether I needed this. Certainly Thrifty did not explain it up front and I feel I was mislead by a deceptively-worded "explanatory" sign at the counter. Normally I'd decline all coverages; now I'm not sure. But certainly this fee, $20/day, ups the original $35 rate by almost 60%.

Customer Facility Charge

At PHX, you take a shuttle to and from the snazzy new Rental Car Terminal. This fee is what it cost you for those shuttle rides and the privilege of using this fine new building. It does seem strange, however, that it is charged per day of rental. So the longer you stay away from the rental terminal, the more you pay. I strongly suspect that if you rent your car in downtown Phoenix, you'd avoid this charge.


This is a flat fee to cover roadside assistance in case of a breakdown. It is useless if you have AAA already. I was fooled into this by that same deceptively-worded sign at the counter. I thought by opting for the "Basic" contract I was declining everything. In fact I was accepting LDW and this. Absolutely needless if you have an AAA card; and in any case, since I didn't know I had it, I wouldn't have known to use it, or how to use it, if I had needed it. Shame on me for being hasty, and on Thrifty for not being more explicit.

State Taxes

AZ apparently levies both a %10 tax and a separate, 5% tax on all car rentals. This is over and above the normal sales tax, which is already included in the $35/day base fee.

County Stadium Tax

The county in which Phoenix is located (Pinal?) is building a stadium and one way they are paying for it is a 3.25% tax on rental cars. All three of these taxes are levied on the total contract including LDW, Tripsaver, and Facility charge. Sheesh.


I have no idea what this is. It is CONCFEERECOV on the contract, and CONCRECFEE on the bill. Concert fee recovery? Concrete Recreation fee? But it came to 11.11%, effectively another day's charge.

Prepaid Fuel

No problem here; pre-buying the fuel in the tank means you don't have to return the car fueled-up, which is convenient, and the amount charged was at or below the street price for gas.

Bottom Line

Be very, very suspicious of offered rates at PHX. Check with your own insurance company to find out if LDW is a good idea or not. Pick up the car in town if possible to avoid the $18 facility charge. Be suspicious of offered rates in general. At Travelocity, they claim their "TotalPrice" is guaranteed. That would be a guarantee of the $140 price of my reservation. Oh, well, except, "Charges for optional services, fuel, insurance waivers, etc. are not included." So the Travelocity TotalPrice Guarantee isn't worth very much.