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Published: Thursday, 6/10/2004

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In high school, sitting on the bench was embarrassing, but in Toledo, sitting on the bench means you're enjoying one of the many exciting sports the city has to offer. You don't have to attend practices; you don't have to get a uniform.

All you have to do is cheer really loud! When it comes to baseball, Toledo is definitely every fan's dream. The city is home to the Mud Hens, the single most recognizable minor league team in professional baseball.

The Hens' home, $39 million, state-of-the-art Fifth Third Field, was named the best minor league park by Newsweek. Just $8 a ticket gets you a seat on the bench. Once the boys of summer over at Fifth Third Field have packed it in for the season, sports fans in Toledo turn their attention to the ice. The Toledo Storm hockey team has been blowing through the competition in the Sports Arena, located along the beautiful Maumee River on Toledo's East Side.

With a capacity of more than 5,000, the Sports Arena offers a big time sports feel, yet there isn't a bad seat in the house. And you can't beat the thrill and excitement of hockey, with lighting speed action, lots of scoring, and of course the all-out brawls when opposing players just can't get along.

Fans usually walk, not sit, during rounds, but if professional golf is your thing, then the Toledo area has just what you are looking for. Each year, the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger makes its way to Highland Meadows Golf Club, bringing with it the most famous and talented female golfers in the world, all vying for a purse of an eye popping $1 million!

The tournament bares the name of Toledo Native Jamie Farr, known for his role as Corporal Klinger in the hit television series M*A*S*H. There's nothing quite like the thunderous roar of the crowd as horses race around the track toward the finish line, especially if the horse you bet on is in the lead!

You can experience the rush of harness racing right here in Toledo, at Raceway Park, where most fans can't stay in their seats as their horse nears the finish line. See live harness racing March-December on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and simulcast racing during the week. Like Raceway Park and the other venues in Toledo, fans rarely spend an entire evening in theirs seats at the Toledo Speedway.

It's widely considered to be one of the premier racetracks in the Midwest, and the Toledo Speedway just keeps getting better. A recent renovation resulted in the addition of skybox suites, an observation deck for local and national media, a revamped concession area, and even cleaner, brighter restrooms.

The Toledo area is home to TWO Division I schools, The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University. Both field competitive teams in just about every men's and women's team, including football, basketball, baseball, softball, hockey, volleyball, and track and field. If bowling strikes your fancy, Toledo should definitely be on your list.

Professional men and women bowlers visit Toledo every year for various events. And with more than two dozen bowling alleys in the area, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy bowling at its finest. And there you have it ... an absolute cornucopia of sports-related activities that call the Toledo area home, proving how much fun sitting on the bench can be.

For more information about these sport venues and activities, contact the Greater Toledo Convention and Visitors Bureau toll-free at 800-243-4667, or visit the Web site at www.doToledo.org.



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