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Alico Arena

Fort Myers, FL

Home of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

3.3

N/A

Alico Arena (map it)
10501 FGCU Blvd
Fort Myers, FL 33965


Florida Gulf Coast Eagles website

Alico Arena website

Year Opened: 2002

Capacity: 4,500

There are no tickets available at this time.

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The Cozy Eagles' Nest

College basketball is one of the core tenets of this site. Once we covered all 122 of the "Big Four" sports in North America, one of the first projects was to complete reviewing all of the Division I college basketball venues. We love them for their massive variety of venues, as everything from small 2,000-seat gymnasiums to massive 16,000-seat arenas are in play, all of which are within the rules of the game. And despite the fundamental rules of the game specifying the exact dimensions of the court, lines, and even the types of wood for flooring (hard maple or maple-oak blends are the norm), one thing not mentioned is how the seating bowl and facility encasing the court must be established.

This, in my opinion, is what makes reviewing college basketball venues most challenging. To honestly quantify similarities and differences between the largest facilities of over 15,000 people and the quaint gyms of under 4,000 seats and make a call of which is better is tough. Bigger isn't always better, but small-feel charm sometimes isn't enough, either.

Alico Arena on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University is in the latter size category. Despite its diminutive size of only handling 4,500 people, it really does back a nice punch. Its intimacy reminds fans why most students, knowing they'll never make the NBA, still insist on playing on the team anyway.

3.3

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

There is nothing extraordinary about the food here. There are two locations to buy: one is a stall in the main atrium, while the other is a cart along the walkway above the seating bowl. It is as minimalistic as one can experience: hot dogs, nachos, popcorn...that's about the extent of it. So, why did I rate it more than a "1"? Nothing, and I mean nothing, costs over $3.50, and that was only the nachos - everything else was $2 or less! The food was certainly edible, and at $2, I really can't make a complaint. In fact, I think it might be cheaper to eat here than any of the restaurants in the neighborhood, so if you don't mind bare-bones stereotypical stadium food, plan on eating here.

Atmosphere    3

So, this was the last game of the 2012-13 season I attended. They played conference rival Kennesaw State in what turned out to be the lead-in to the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament. The game didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, because the Eagles had already secured their place in the conference tourney as the #2 seed. Because of that, there wasn't a full house, even in a small 4,500-seater. But being a small arena, the noise generated by both the fans and the upbeat band was anything but miniscule.

I have to give a special shout-out to the announcer that night, who had to pull unexpected double duty. I missed the first couple minutes, so I don't know exactly when it happened, but when I arrived, the scoreboard was dark. Upon asking one of the friendly ushers, she informed me that, "the darned thing wanted to go into the postseason early, I guess." Thus, the announcer did an excellent job with keeping the crowd informed of the score after every point; time was kept on the still-working backboard electronics, but everything else, including bonuses and possession, was done the old-fashioned way. So, kudos to the announcer (and all the officiating staff, I guess) for keeping the game moving.

Neighborhood    3

This is a purpose-built, secluded campus just to the southeast of Fort Myers proper. It was built for easy expansion and even easier access (see below), but because of that, nothing is walking distance of the campus entrance, let alone the arena, which itself is about a mile or so into the campus. Within driving distance, all there is are upscale, albeit stereotypically Floridian strip centers, the Miromar Outlet Mall, and the Germain Arena, the latter of which is the main reason I didn't give this category a lower score.

Fans    2

I get the team didn't need this game; as I stated before, they secured their seed in the A-Sun tourney. I know they were playing the weakest team in the conference that night. I also understand that I heard a game going on at the baseball diamond that night when I was walking into the arena. However, I really can't understand why, after having such a great season, there wasn't a sellout crowd there to send them off to Macon's Hawkins Arena for the A-Sun tourney. The fans that were there were quite knowledgeable and supportive (and LOUD), but there wasn't enough for a team with such potential. Quite a pity, actually...

Access    5

Getting there is super easy. From Interstate 75, the closest main thoroughfare to the campus, the campus is easily signed for either of the two potential exits. Go east for about a half-mile, and turn onto Ben Hill Griffin Parkway (not to be confused with Ben Hill Griffin Stadium). The campus is secluded and easily navigable to the arena. Oh, and parking is free.

Once inside, the walkway above the seating area s as wide as practical, so maneuvering is a breeze. The restrooms are clean and ample, though the main ones are actually located behind the retractable bleachers in the practice basketball courts off the side of the arena. Kind of a weird placement, but whatever works, right?

Return on Investment    4

The cheapest ticket is $9, which allows you to stand along the walkway above the seating bowl or sit in areas behind the far basket or the corners. The most expensive ticket is around $20 or so for on the floor. Combine those with the extremely cheap food and free parking, along with a pretty good team (considering they won the 2012-13 A-Sun title and entered the 2013 NCAA Tournament as one of the #15 seeds), and you have yourself a cost-effective and fun time!

Extras    3

One of the best perks was free wi-fi the day I went. I can't guarantee it will be available at all times, but it really is a great perk to have, especially with smart phones sucking up more power looking for towers than being on a dedicated wi-fi connection. There are also three suites that could be rented for any game, which is a plus in a facility of this size. And speaking of the facility's amenities, the campus itself is very nicely appointed and blends into the Southwest Florida landscape quite beautifully.

I already made mention of this earlier, but my hat's off again to both the announcer and the officials for being able to play through the broken scoreboard debacle. Sadly, I couldn't stay for the whole game, so I can't tell you whether or not they got the issue fixed, but even if they didn't, the fans didn't go without the info they needed to keep up with the game, thanks to the quick thinking of everyone involved.

Final Thoughts

At Stadium Journey, we learn to appreciate both the large coliseums for their amenities and the small gymnasiums for their charm. Despite its miniature size, the Alico Arena has both. While improvements can still be made in both the fanbase and food offerings, this place isn't that far off from perfect. If you're ever in the Fort Myers/Naples area, try to get over to the arena and see a game. If you're a believer in the "bigger is better" mantra, it might just make you like the small facilities once again.

Please Return Immediately

Hi,

I would like for you to return to Alico sometime this season, probably during the conference slate. I would say that even though this review is a little more than a year old, i have to say that it doesn't do justice to what has happened inside my school's Arena within the past year. We sold out EVERY SINGLE GAME last year. EVERY SINGLE GAME. Athletics is currently looking towards implementing a lottery system. A LOTTERY SYSTEM??? WE AREN'T UF!!! Anyways, I believe you should come and take a look at the energetic atmosphere we now have.

Thanks and Have a Great Night!

by JaapSlap1 | Aug 19, 2014 12:28 AM

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