Alicia Barnhart recently earned a Guinness World Records title for the Fastest time to visit all NFL stadiums, attending 32 NFL stadiums in just 12 weeks.
A football fan from Ohio who grew up rooting for the Cleveland Browns, Alicia began her journey after spending three years visiting MLB stadiums and blogging about it. Once she realized there was a record breaking opportunity at her hands with NFL stadiums, she jumped right at it.
Ahead of Super Bowl 50, we caught up with Alicia to ask her about her incredible achievement.
What motivated you to attempt this record?
Sports travel has been a bit of a hobby of mine since I graduated college in 2008. While I was on a date last February, the guy suggested I do all the NFL stadiums. I thought about it and talked to a friend through blogging, Chuck Booth who has the Guinness World Record for Fastest Time to Visit all the MLB parks and he mentioned the NFL record had been around since 2002 and would be possible to break. That sounded like a fun twist on visiting stadiums, so I started planning!
Were you a big football fan before attempting this record?
Yes! I grew up a Browns fan outside of Cleveland and spent many Sundays in front of the television watching the Browns play. When the team left in 1996 I got my football fix from the Ohio State Buckeyes. Liking the Browns has been quite the "experience”, but I'm going to stick with them... mainly out of fear that if I forsake them, they'll win the Super Bowl and I'll be a fairweather fan (the worst in my book).
Tell us a bit about how you went about logistics and scheduling for your record attempt
As soon as the NFL schedules came out I printed them out by week and printed out some monthly calendars as well. There was a lot of shuffling around and I did try to make trips logical where possible. For example my first game was a Sunday in Oakland and then that Monday I was in Santa Clara for the 49ers. That allowed me to hit the Bay area only once. Seeing Sunday/Monday games was the most challenging to schedule. Traveling west for Monday Night Football ended up working out really well because the time zones helped cancel out the flight times. It was definitely a small headache to plan out, but once I had it in place, it wasn't bad.
What was the most challenging part of your record attempt?
The most challenging part of the record attempt was coordinating a stadium witness for each visit. I contacted all the teams in August and most did get back to me about meeting before and after the game so they could verify I was there the entire time. For the teams that didn't respond back, I had to find an usher that was willing to vouch for me.
What did it feel like to find out you had achieved a Guinness World Records title?
Relief! Even though I knew I had attended 32 games in 86 days, I was paranoid that someone looking over my evidence wouldn't be convinced. I was meticulous with the requirements, but until I received the email saying it was official, I was unable to truly relax and enjoy my accomplishment. There was also much jumping and dancing on my part- think touchdown celebrations.
“There was a huge upside to completing the record, the thrill of a new stadium, exploring a city for the first time, meeting other sports fans, and the feeling of personal accomplishment that comes from pushing your boundaries”
What was your favorite stadium to visit and why?
My favorite stadium was Lambeau Field, I'm a sucker for classics. It felt like I was going to a high school football game, but the talent on the field was the Green Bay Packers. Lambeau isn't the flashiest venue, but it's authentic to the sport and there's an aura to it that I didn't feel at any of the other venues. One of a kind.
Do you have any plans to attempt a similar record for a different sport?
I looked up the NHL record out of curiosity, but seeing 30 teams in less than 27 days (current record) doesn't appeal to me. Attempting the NHL record is a bit too fast for me. I want to hit all the NHL venues in a season, but at a pace that will allow me to enjoy the cities where they're located.
Who are you rooting for in the upcoming Super Bowl?
I'll be rooting for Super Cam and the Carolina Panthers!!! They have four starters from the Ohio State University - Teddy Ginn Jr, Philly Brown, Andrew Norwell, and Kurt Coleman. I am a very proud alumna! This is the first time in a few years that I'm legitimately excited and actively rooting for a team in the Super Bowl.
Finally, others may be inspired by your story to attempt a record for themselves. What advice would you give them?
I'm going to steal this line from Jim Valvano, as it's the only advice you need- "Don't give up, don't ever give up." Attempting a record like this is actually tougher than you'd think. It wasn't just showing up at games, there was a ton of planning and coordinating with other people to make it all happen.
Sometimes it wasn't fun. Sometimes I was overwhelmed and felt very alone. I pushed through self-doubt and saw my attempt to completion. I'm very glad I didn't let my momentary fears beat me! Plus there was a huge upside to completing the record like the football games themselves, the thrill of a new stadium, exploring a city for the first time, meeting other sports fans, and the feeling of personal accomplishment that comes from pushing your boundaries. The overall gains definitely out way the momentary pains!