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by Amber Greviskes

Related: live sports in new york metro area, live sports for kids, parent tips for sporting events with kids,

Crosstown rivalries, new stadiums, and access to a wide variety of sports make the greater NY metro area one of the best to places to see live action. Here, the lowdown on local teams, plus parent tips.

Flight Time Lang of the Harlem Globetrotters

Jonathan Ezor used to take his three children ranging from ages 10 to 17 to minor league Long Island Ducks baseball games. “There are on-field fan activities between most half-innings. If your kids want to participate, be sure to get to the stadium and line up well before the gates open,” Ezor says. “Bring Sharpies, too. There are many opportunities to get player autographs before and after the game.”

Minor league baseball is a popular family favorite throughout the summer months specifically because of all the on- and off-field antics between plays and the access to players and characters. (We have a complete where-to guide of minor league baseball in our region.) But with minor and major league baseball playoffs wrapping up in October—and in honor of the brand spanking new Barclays Center in Brooklyn—we’re bringing you the best that’s ahead for family fan fun.

Plus, for those families looking for more than just sports-related outings, you can check out our guide to more events happening at Barclays Center over the next few months.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers

This American Hockey League team, which is affiliated with the New York Islanders, is based in Bridgeport, CT. Home games start in early October and run through April. Throughout the season, the team hosts special promotions and events for various groups. The team celebrated Scout Night and Chanukah Night last year.

Home Venue: Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard, 600 Main St., Bridgeport. (Nearby Fairfield University men’s basketball team plays its home games there and the women’s basketball team schedules select games at the site, too.)
Getting There: The Bridgeport Transportation Center is only a two-block, well-lit walk from Webster Bank Arena. This center is serviced by the Metro North Railroad New Haven line (800-638-7646) and Amtrak (800-872-7245) as well as the Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority (203-333-3031), which provides frequent bus service to the arena.
Tickets: Ticketmaster.com or in person at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard
Special: Birthday party packages are available including a signed jersey for the birthday guest, food vouchers, group tickets, and depending upon the package level or extras selected, a VIP arena tour and gift bags. Call 203-334-4625 for details. You can enter your child age 6-14 to be the honorary Sound Tigers “Stick Kid”—where he or she can sit on the bench during the pre-game skate and follow it up with amazing seats for the game.
Parent Tip: Looking for an extra special experience? Try catching a game against the Connecticut Whale, a feeder team for the New York Rangers.

Brooklyn Nets

As if New York needed another basketball team, the Brooklyn Nets joined the fold in 2012. The team, led by Deron Williams, kicks off its inaugural season on Nov. 1 at Barclays Center against the Knicks. The home opener will pit U.S. summer Olympian Deron Williams for the Nets against his Olympics teammates Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler in what is being billed as “Battle of the Boroughs.” Look for a real Manhattan vs. Brooklyn rivalry to develop.

“There are lots of baseball fans that see the Brooklyn Nets as a legitimate successor to the Brooklyn Dodgers,” said NBA commissioner David Stern in May. “I think that we are going to have a great rivalry.”

The regular season ends in April, and NBA champions are crowned in June.

Home Venue: Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
Getting There: Those who want to attend weekday games are in luck. This arena is one of the area’s most accessible: Hop off the subway at the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center station, Lafayette Avenue, or Fulton Street. Coming from Long Island? Take LIRR to Atlantic Terminal. Eleven different bus lines stop near the arena, too. Plan your trip with the MTA.
Tickets: Ticketmaster.com, nba.com/nets, 877-77-BKTIX, or 855-GROUP-BK for group sales
Special: Your tech-savvy youngsters will love how wired and current the new Brooklyn Nets are! Besides the inevitable Facebook and Twitter, you and your kids can follow the team on Instagram, Socialcam, Tumblr, and via an email newsletter.
Parent Tip: Get in on the rivalry early for memories that will last a lifetime. “There was nothing better than a rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers,” recalls Brooklyn native Sheila Cohen, who was 5 years old when her father took her to her first game at Ebbets Field. “We had a two-family house in Coney Island at the time, and come March, people fought to rent out our basement so they could be closer to watch their Dodgers play!” What will the Nets-Knicks legacy become?

Harlem Globetrotters

The Harlem Globetrotters have brought their ball-handling wizardry and basketball artistry around the world, playing in more than 24,000 games in 120 countries—but they’ve never played in Brooklyn before now. Watch them as they pull on their red, white, and blue attire for their debut at Barclays Center on Oct. 7. This year’s team not only features fan-favorite Globetrotters like Big Easy, Flight Time, Special K, and Scooter, but also a new class of exciting rookies.

Home Venue: The globe (the Globetrotters are a barnstorming team)
Getting There: See Brooklyn Nets above for details on travel to Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Tickets: Barclayscenter.com, ticketmaster.com, or 800-745-3000
Special: Deals for scout troops, kids’ teams, and even big families (10 or more people) are available; email [email protected] for group discount information.
Parent Tip: Because the Globetrotters combine athleticism (jumps, dunks, and somersaults) with lots of theater and comedic moments to entertain their fans, youngsters are more likely to make it all the way through a full game. A Globetrotters outing is a perfect first live sports event for toddlers.

New York Giants

The reigning Super Bowl champions open the regular season at MetLife Stadium, their home field, on Sept. 5. Those looking for the most intense rivalries, though, should plan on stopping by the stadium on Dec. 30 when the Giants take on the Philadelphia Eagles, a conference rival that features Michael Vick, who has been telling reporters—and anyone else who will listen—that the Eagles’ “Dream Team” is poised to build a dynasty beginning this season.

Home Venue: MetLife Stadium, 1 MetLife Stadium Dr., East Rutherford, NJ
Getting There: Riders from New York or Connecticut can take select Metro-North trains from the New Haven line to Secaucus Junction (mta.info/mnr or 212-532-4900 for schedules and service locations). Coach USA provides the 351 Meadowlands Express bus service from the Port Authority to MetLife Sports Complex for NFL games and other large events at the stadium beginning two and a half hours prior to the start of a game and continue running until a half-hour after the start of a game (351express.com or 800-877-1888, x3 for information). Obtain driving directions here.
Tickets: Ticketmaster.com, 201-935-8222, or in person at the MetLife Stadium ticket office, located at the West Gate between the Pepsi and Verizon gates.
Special: Go online to download Giants-themed coloring pages and a word search to keep kids busy en route to the game, and access NFLRush games they can play on your smart phone when the game action doesn’t hold their attention.
Parent Tip: Preseason training takes place in Albany and is a great road-trip option for younger fans, suggests Brooklyn dad Michael Campanile. “I’m waiting until my son gets older to take him to a live NFL game, as they can get rowdy,” he says. “Until then, bonding over an occasional TV game—fourth quarter is most exciting—is still fun.”

New York Islanders

The season starts in October, but circle Nov. 13th on your calendar. That’s when the Islanders host the Rangers in the first installment of this year’s Battle of New York. Unlike the football and baseball crosstown rivalries, this one is S-E-R-I-O-U-S. The Islanders and Rangers are in the same conference and division, which means they’ll meet several times this season.

Home Venue: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 1255 Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale
Getting There: Take the LIRR to the Westbury, Garden City, or Hempstead train stations. You’ll need a taxi—it’s a 10-minute ride—from the first two locales. From the Hempstead station, walk one block to the Hempstead Bus Terminal.
Tickets: Ticketmaster.com, islanders.nhl.com, or 800-745-3000.
Special: New York Islanders birthday party packages (for a minimum of 10 individuals) may include team tees, an autographed puck, special visit from mascot Sparky, scoreboard message, and more. According to team representatives, “From zamboni rides to player high-fives, we can ensure your child has the experience you’re looking for.” Call 1-800-882-ISLES x3 or email [email protected]
Parent Tip: The Islanders offer three affordable KidZone membership options for children under 14. The Wrist Shot level is free and includes a welcome letter, discounts, and monthly e-blasts with team updates. Get details here.

New York Jets

Thanks in part to their close proximity the Jets have an intense rivalry against the New England Patriots, who they play Oct. 21. This year’s most intense rivalry, however, might be over the Jets’ starting quarterback spot. Former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow signed with the team over the offseason. And, although coach Rex Ryan says that last year’s go-to QB Mark Sanchez is still the team’s starter, there’s no doubt that Tebow supporters (and there are many!) are waiting for him to take over.
Home Venue: MetLife Stadium
Getting There: See New York Giants above for details.
Tickets: Ticketmaster.com, newyorkjets.com, or 800-469-JETS (5387)
Special: The Jets are devoted to boosting educational opportunities in the tri-state area, which parents can get involved in by accessing the team’s community page. The team, like the Giants, is also involved in the NFL’s Play 60 program that is working to eliminate childhood obesity by asking children to exercise for 60 minutes per day.

New York Knicks

The New York Knicks will have a tough early-season schedule. They open their season against the Brooklyn Nets on Nov. 1. The next night, they face the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. On Nov. 23, they travel to Houston to see former Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin (will Linsanity persist?).

Home Venue: Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, Manhattan
Getting There: Situated above a major transit hub, the Garden is accessible via NJTransit, Amtrak, and LIRR to Penn Station; NJ PATH trains to 33rd St.; and many subway lines
Tickets: Ticketmaster.com, or in person at the Madison Square Garden box office (tickets available at Ticketmaster exclusively on first day of sales)
Special: If your 7-14-year-old loves to dance, keep a lookout on Facebook for the tryout date for the Knicks City Kids, who dance at all weekend and holiday games during the Knicks’ season.
Parent Tip: The Knicks and the Rangers both use Madison Square Garden as their home venue, so be sure to give yourself enough time to get there (and around the Penn Station commuter traffic) during weekday games.

New York Rangers

As one of the oldest teams in the NHL, the New York Rangers have developed many rivalries including the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, and Boston Bruins. Madison Square Garden and the Prudential Center in Newark are less than 10 miles apart, which means Devils games are usually packed. The teams meet for the first time on Oct. 17.

On Nov. 4, the Rangers take on the Flyers, the team’s division rivals, who have met 10 times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Like most Boston and New York City sports rivalries, there will be no love lost when the Rangers play the Bruins (Nov. 23).

Home Venue: Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, Manhattan
Getting There: See New York Knicks above.
Tickets: Ticketmaster.com, or in person at the Madison Square Garden box office (tickets available at Ticketmaster exclusively on first day of sales)
Special: The New York Rangers provide support and unique programming to nonprofit youth hockey organizations across the tri-state region that are committed to offering children of all backgrounds and abilities the opportunity to play hockey through Hockey is for Everyone. In support of this initiative, the Rangers partner with Ice Hockey in Harlem, the American Special Hockey Association, and The Wheelchair Sports Federation. Visit rangers.nhl.com for more info on these outreach offerings as well as other special youth programming during the 2012-13 season.
Parent Tip: With so many intense rivalries, each game should be a hit (and likely a tough ticket to get). Try resale sites like Craigslist or StubHub if you and your family would like to attend one specific game. Around the holidays, season ticket holders who travel may sell their tickets at face value to avoid losing money. Go here to register for Text4Tix to receive text alerts on your mobile phone when tickets become available to games of your choice.


ING New York City Marathon Spectators 2011

New York City Marathon

The ING New York City Marathon, one of the five world majors, attracts more than 100,000 applicants annually. About 47,000 will race on Nov. 4.

Although preparations for the Olympic Games watered-down the fields at the Boston and London marathons this year, many top athletes will have recovered to race here. Last year, Geoffrey Mutai set a men’s course record.

Special: Marathoners and guests from around the world will join together on Friday, Nov. 2, for a spectacular international celebration of the diversity of the ING New York City Marathon, “where the world comes to run,” featuring the Parade of Nations. Go here for details on the opening ceremony and other ways spectators can get involved.
Parent Tip: With Halloween the weekend before, more than the usual quirky contingent may run in costumes. Have your kids rate their favorites from along the race path or while watching on television.

University of Connecticut Basketball

Both the UCONN men’s and women’s basketball teams play their home games, which start in November, in the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion on the Storrs campus.

Long-time women’s head coach Geno Auriemma, who has led the Huskies to seven NCAA titles, coached the United States Olympic team this summer. The men’s team has won three NCAA titles.

Home Venue: Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, 2095 Hillside Rd., UConn Storrs Campus
Getting There: The University of Connecticut is approximately one and one-half to two hours drive from New York. Visit uconnhuskies.com for directions.
Tickets: Ticketmaster.com, or in person at University of Connecticut Athletic Ticket Office, 2111 Hillside Road, Unit 3078, Storrs; 1-877-AT-UCONN (1-877-288-2666) or 860-486-2724
Special: The UConn Junior Husky Club, sponsored by Webster Bank, has a $15 membership fee and an array of benefits including invitations to exclusive Junior Husky Days at football and men’s and women’s basketball games and free regular season admission to other ticketed sports such as men’s ice hockey and women’s soccer.
Children 13 and younger are eligible to register.
Parent Tip: College sports allow kids to get close to the action and players are much more approachable than their professional counterparts.

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