I’ve always been an admirer of all types of stadiums, ranging from ballparks to arenas to football fields. Ballparks by far are the most popular that are chronicled and I think there are several reasons for it: popularity of the sport, the easy-going nature of attending games and the ballpark quirks. While of course I love visiting ballparks and the uniqueness of each one…it’s not my favorite. Football stadiums’ most discernible feature is likely atmosphere both inside and out, while hockey arenas have a certain character to each one. Both of these stadium types are enjoyable for me to visit, yet there is one type of facility that I have a special kinship out of all of them.
College basketball arenas bring me the most excitement. It probably helps that this is my favorite sport and I try to follow all 300+ teams and all 32 conferences. So I have a vested interest in the game and yes all of the games are important as teams are working towards a conference championship or an at-large to the tournament and have a chance at the National Championship. The arenas themselves are so special too and yet many of the old ones are likely to live on unlike the special pro places that were torn down. Allen Fieldhouse, Cameron Indoor Stadium, Hinkle Fieldhouse and The Palestra. All arenas completely different from each other. Then you also have some fantastic new buildings like the Kohl Center. At the other end of the spectrum, you can go see games at tiny arenas that are vastly different than the homes of the big boys, but yet just as important to the school and their fans. Things are so much more intimate in the smaller arenas and yet each team has the same chance to play for the ultimate prize…win your conference, win the next 6 games and you are National Champion.
Atmosphere and passion are another reason why college basketball arenas are my favorite to visit. Yes, I realize that probably more than half of the teams/arenas feature a laid-back, minor-league ballpark like atmosphere. However, there are those that are just incredible with student sections and fan noise making the experience memorable. Just check out a few Youtube clips:
I’m a lover of all stadiums and thoroughly enjoy visiting those playing all types of sports, but college basketball has to be #1 in my heart. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity yet to visit some of the true gems (especially with my job getting toughest during the exact calendar of the season), but getting to any arena and college basketball game is great.