Fan tour of 30 NHL arenas in 30 days comes to Columbus

Many hockey fans dream of visiting each of the 30 NHL arenas in their lifetime. Edmonton’s Rob Suggitt is living that dream in the final 30 days of the 2014-15 season, and tonight, his travels bring him to Columbus as the Blue Jackets take on the Buffalo Sabres.

"I’ve had the idea for about 10 years," Suggitt said. "I love going to different rinks, and had only gone to six rinks till about two years ago. I thought ‘wouldn’t it be neat to see an NHL game in each of the 30 rinks?’. Then I decided I’d take it a step further and do it 30 days in a row."

Suggitt did all of his own travel planning including laying out the journey via a physical map on the floor in his house. Sometimes he’d be 10 or more games into his schedule before he realized he had to start over. Suggitt estimates that he spent dozens of hours getting his travel plans in place.

The final travel itinerary Suggitt developed includes eight border crossings, 28 trips via plane, two by car, one by train and is estimated to total over 24,000 miles. Along the way, family and friends joined him for a few games but the majority of his travel has been solo.

Suggitt is personally funding his travels, and has committed to spend no more than $100 per ticket at each game.

The first game Suggitt attended was March 13 at Nassau Coliseum when the Ottawa Senators faced the New York Islanders. His last game will be April 11 in Montreal when the Canadiens host the Toronto Maple Leafs. He says his favorite part of this trip is getting to each arena.

"As soon as I get to the rink I’m energized watching how the crowd reacts, how the crowd cheers," Suggitt said.

But Suggitt didn’t want to be the only one getting something out of his adventure, his company is a National Partner with Make-A-Wish Canada and he has turned his 30-arena tour into a fundraiser for the foundation.

Suggitt set up a website at 30games-30nights.com where he collects donations and is auctioning off signed NHL jerseys he’s collected as part of his trip. Suggitt calls his campaign "Fill the Net with Wishes" and he has set a fundraising goal of $30,000 which equates to $1,000 raised per city visited.

According to Suggitt’s site, as of April 9 $16,800.00 has been raised for Make-A-Wish Canada, $4,000 has been raised through the jersey auction and $4,200 has been raised for Make-A-Wish USA for a total of $25,000.

You can not only track Suggitt’s fundraising online, every game he updates the site with a blog and photos documenting his latest game and you can see a complete map of his journey so far. The travel itself hasn’t been fun, but the experience so far has been.

"It’s way better than I anticipated," Suggitt said. "Being a hockey fan, going to hockey cities, talking to the hockey fans and getting the energy of each of these buildings, it’s exceeded my expectations."

And as Suggitt joins the masses at the Jackets’ fan appreciation night tonight, he’ll be recognizable in his NHL All-Star jersey that boasts his website on a custom nameplate. He says hockey fans have found him as he traveled city to city.

"A lot of them think I’m crazy," Suggitt said. "Or they’ll come up and pat me on the back. They’ll ask where are you going next, what do you like about the trip – they are hockey fans so they think it’s crazy or amazing that somebody goes to 30 games in 30 consecutive nights."

There’s no way to know what Suggitt will experience when he walks into Nationwide Arena tonight. He intentionally doesn’t tell teams he’s coming and that helps keep the experience fresh for him and true to what fans enjoy in each arena.

"I didn’t tell anyone in advance," Suggitt said. "Because of social media and the word getting out I’ve had some nice surprises along the way."

Suggitt will join FOX Sports Ohio tonight to talk about his impressions of Columbus and Nationwide Arena during the Blue Jackets LIVE pre-game show and his journey so far. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. Channel information can be found here.

More information on Suggitt, his travels and fundraising can be found at http://30games-30nights.com/ or on twitter at @30g30n.