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Rob's Road Blog: On Gondolas

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

VANCOUVER – We all have fears. Every single one of us. And if you say that you don’t, you’re lying.

So just to get this out there, I have two solidified fears: snakes top the list in any way, shape or form. Snakes in the toilet, snakes in the sky (admittedly less likely than the first), snakes in the ducts of my downtown loft, snakes waiting around every single corner.

And second on the list, we have “insecure or unstable environments at a significant elevation.”

Okay, so it’s a rather precise thing to fear, but once you’ve experienced it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

According to, a gondola is defined as “a passenger compartment suspended beneath a balloon or airship.” In Edmonton and Calgary, they refer to their press boxes as gondolas (or maybe they don’t officially, but people around the arena call them gondolas) because there are similarities between the two – except for the balloon or airship thing.

For someone who has the fears outlined above, it’s an absolute nightmare.

But, as they say, face your fears!

You’ve never seen someone with legs as short as mine make them seem even shorter. My strides were separated by maybe two inches when I walked up the metal stairs at Rexall Place and over the connecting bridge to the press seating.

The walk takes you over top of the upper bowl and the press box hangs, suspended, on the same eye level as the suites. It’s weird, terrifying, and cool all at the same time.

If you’re not blinded by fear you can feel the gondola move beneath your feet. That’ll wake you up.

Another arena with a suspended press box is Madison Square Garden (it’s called the Chase Bridge), and it’s eerily similar to Rexall Place. The best part about these setups, though, is the view of the ice; you’re right on top of the rink, peering down to the ice surface with a perfect perspective on the action.

Here’s another good thing about gondolas: no snakes.

Tonight’s vantage point at Rogers Arena is more traditional, your standard press box. It’s the ideal setup for tomorrow night in Calgary, where at the Scotiabank Saddledome, we’re teed up for one of the “most terrifying walks in hockey” as someone described to me this week.


So, what’s the best way to handle this irrational and slightly embarrassing fear?

The only way a true digital and social media professional knows how: record it on my iPhone.

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