The Charlotte Checkers open the season at home Friday against Columbia. You can still buy a ticket to watch them play in Charlotte Bobcats Arena for $10.
Every time I go to a minor league baseball or hockey game in Charlotte I leave with the same thought. I have to do this more often.
But I don't. I allow myself to become mesmerized by the major league teams and the colleges.
If the Carolina Panthers aren't playing, there's a race at Lowe's Motor Speedway or the Charlotte Bobcats are playing or there's a big time athlete coming to town for a game or North Carolina or N.C. State or Duke or Wake Forest or South Carolina or Clemson is playing or there's a big game at Halton Arena or Davidson or East Carolina or Winthrop or Johnson C. Smith or Queens.
Yet we -- me, you, Charlotte -- need the minor leagues. We need the ticket prices and the lack of pretension. Anybody can like a major league team. In the minor leagues, the crowds are smaller and the opportunity is greater to make a team yours. If you're a regular, they'll know it.
I'll spend more time with the baseball team, the Charlotte Knights, next season. And when they move downtown, I'm a regular, I guarantee it.
And I'll spend more time with the Checkers this season. A quality I admire about the minor leagues is that nobody buys a ticket to watch the vistors. There's rarely a big name coming in.
You relax. You enjoy. You admire the bond between the fans and their team.
And you smile when you realize that nobody, not one fan in the building, is there to be seen.