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Here are my Big 9 Conference venue rankings for the four main sports I broadcast. This is after many years, broadcasts and bus trips. A special section also includes my favorite non-state tournament broadcast sites across the four main sports I broadcast and an ode to my 14 years of covering the Wingers in the Missota Conference before they moved to the Big 9 in 2014.

The rankings are on a one to five star system.

*Poor **Below average ***Average ****Above Average *****Excellent

School Football Baseball Basketball Hockey Total

Austin ***** **** *** ***** 17

Red Wing *** ***** *** **** 15

Roch Century *** *** *** **** 13

Albert Lea ***** *** ** *** 13

Roch JM **** * *** **** 12

Mankato East *** **** *** * 11

Owatonna *** ** * **** 10

Roch Mayo **** *** ** * 10

Mankato West ** **** ** * 9

Faribault ** *** *** * 9

Northfield **** * ** * 8

Winona *** * *** * 8


It is interesting to note that some Rochester schools share venues but some don't based on the sport. Mayo and Century hockey both play at Graham Arena but at different rinks. Mayo plays at Graham rink #1 (not great) but Century plays at Graham rink #4 (very good) while John Marshall plays at The Rochester Rec Center (very good). Mayo and Century baseball share Mayo Field while JM plays at a middle school field.

Albert Lea's new facility for football is outstanding. They did it right!

It's feast or famine for hockey rinks. There are a number of outstanding rinks but a lot of dives as well.

Owatonna is moving into a brand new school on the far south side of town next year. I hope the basketball arena improves.

The Larry Sonju Gym in Red Wing gets new scoreboards next year! Yay!!

Bonus Section: Jack's favorite non-state tournament venues by sport!

Football: Chanhassen High School from their short stay in the Missota

Baseball: Carson Park in Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Basketball: Rochester Mayo Civic Auditorium (Straight out of Hoosiers!)

Hockey: Mini-Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls (Epic Taj Mahal of hockey!)

Ode to the Missota: The first 14 years of my time in Red Wing saw the Wingers compete in the Missota Conference. My favorite Missota venue is the Richfield Ice Arena-a great old school rink! Twins organist Sue Nelson played there for hockey games between the Wingers and Holy Angels Stars. Old time hockey fans and broadcasters know organ music at hockey games is something special!

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