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Official Review by Matt Finnigan, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The University of Wyoming's Arena-Auditorium, which houses the Cowboys and Cowgirls basketball teams of the Mountain West Conference, provides a unique home. At an altitude of 7,220 feet above sea level, the AA is the highest home court in NCAA Division I basketball -- more than 2,000 feet higher than the Pit at the University of New Mexico. The "Dome of Doom" is also a college basketball rarity: a geodesic dome. It holds 15,028 very loud and very engaged fans.
The university in 2014 completed the first phase of a $30 million renovation project at the AA. Spectator seats and the floor itself were reoriented such that fans moved closer to the action; new video boards and a sound system were added, as well. The project's second phase is now underway, with a grand entrance added to the AA's east side, upgraded concession stands, a club room, and a new UW Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.
The project has modernized the AA to enhance what is a very enjoyable college basketball experience.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The AA does not offer a wide breadth of concession options. What is offered, however, is high-quality.
Fans will find typical stadium fare at the AA: hot dogs ($3.75), brats ($4.75), and cheesesteaks ($5.25) are among the favorites. Papa John's pizza ($6.25) is another option, as is Doc's Mexican Food, which offers burritos, nachos, and taco salad. Though not a wide range of options, the food is tasty.
Pepsi products are sold, both in bottles and from the fountain ($3.75 for both). There are no beer sales.
The cheesesteak is a surprisingly good find. For those wanting the tried and true, the hot dogs pass muster.
Fans at the AA are close to the action. They are also smart and passionate about the Cowboys, creating a loud and engaged atmosphere.
Entering the AA on the concourse level, fans either walk up stairs to the upper bowl or down stairs to the lower bowl. There is not an obstructed seat in the arena and virtually every seat has a good sight line of the action. The entire building teems with UW's colors of brown and yellow, helping to create a formidable home court edge for the Cowboys. There are two high-resolution video boards, one at each end of the facility. UW uses these video boards to show live action, along with a scoreboard, clock, and in-game box score.
The relatively new video boards and sound system are first-rate. The resolution on the video boards is crisp and the scoreboard features are smartly designed. The sound system is high-quality. These improvements enhance and do not overwhelm the game experience.
There is not a bad seat in the AA. Fans should not shy from seats in the upper bowl or in the corners, as the building is designed in such a way that seats do not feel far removed from the action, even in the facility's upper reaches.
The AA sits in the middle of campus (indeed, the UW law school sits next door, providing a tempting study break for sports-minded law students). There are not any restaurants or bars in close walking distance. However, downtown Laramie is less than two miles away and has a good variety of dining and entertainment options.
Downtown has several good options. Altitude Chophouse and Brewery offers steaks and beers brewed on site. For those who aren't carnivores, Sweet Melissa Cafe has a wide variety of vegetarian soups, salads, and sandwiches.
Laramie is an excellent starting point for those who enjoy the outdoors. The Medicine Bow National Forest surrounds Laramie and provides nearly 2.9 million acres of terrain ranging in altitude from 5,500 feet to 12,940 feet. Visitors can enjoy hiking, sightseeing, hunting, fishing, and mountain biking. Similarly, the Vedauwoo Recreation Area features rock formations that lure rock climbers of all experience levels.
Several national chains have hotels within two miles of the AA, primarily on Grand Avenue and along Interstate 80. The Hilton Garden Inn is the closest hotel to the AA, with rooms starting at $109 per night. The Hampton Inn is among the first hotels in town as fans enter Laramie from the east.
Fans of the Cowboys are loud. They know both the sport of basketball and their own team, fortifying the Cowboy's home court edge at the AA.
Wyoming typically ranks in the top half of Mountain West Conference schools with regard to attendance. In 2015-16, Wyoming had an average home attendance of 5,481 and have had similar attendance in 2016-17. Attendance spikes annually when rival Colorado State University visits Laramie.
The crowd gets very loud. Fans are more interested in watching the game and rooting on the Cowboys than they are in socializing with one another. They urge their team at appropriate moments and show a solid understanding of the sport.
The AA is easy to reach by car. Once inside, the concourse has sufficient room to move about; the seating sections are easily identified and easy to find.
Laramie does not have, nor does it likely need, a large mass transit system. However, the University of Wyoming's Transit System has two bus stops near the AA on the Union Express Line.
Parking is in the lots around and near the arena; the university efficiently directs traffic into and out of the lots. Ticket windows are placed at the AA's main entrance and short-term parking is provided nearby. Entering the AA is seamless and quick.
The concourse is sufficiently wide and it circumnavigates the seating sections. Because fans enter the seating bowls from the concourse, handicap accessible seating is relatively easy to reach. Restrooms are plentiful and clean.
Wyoming Basketball is a great value, particularly given the energy inside the AA. The Cowboys are typically competitive in a Mountain West Conference so fans can enjoy high-level hoops at a reasonable price.
With the most expensive seat in the building starting at $32, fans can get close to the action without having to sell a kidney. Wyoming smartly provides special pricing ($10-$13) for kids aged 3-12 years old, enabling families to attend games.
Wyoming offers a three-game Mountain West Conference package that starts at $57 per seat.
The AA's concourse features the history of the University of Wyoming Intercollegiate Athletics. Trophies, photos, and memorabilia of past teams from all sports give the arena a nice, historic feel. The plaques from the University's Athletic Hall of Fame are also placed throughout the concourse, allowing fans to pay tribute to UW greats.
Laramie is not an easy destination for many people to reach. However, the AA is worth a visit. Fans will enjoy a great atmosphere that serves to remind why college basketball is such an entertaining sport to watch in person. The UW faithful are loud, spirited, and loyal, creating a fun and memorable experience.
Member Review by richkurt on Feb 10, 2012
Laramie, Wyoming is a seemingly sleepy and quiet town on the plains of rural America.
But what outside observers don't realize is that Wyomingites love their Cowboys, whether it is on the football field in War Memorial Stadium or the hardwood of Arena-Auditorium, and those that live in the quiet town are loud and proud of their teams.
Arena-Auditorium is nicknamed the "Dome of Doom" and its unique construction creates an incredibly noisy environment that rattles visiting teams. Double-A opened 30 years ago, in the fall of 1982, and the aging arena holds up in terms of being a functional, fun place for families and fans alike to cheer on their Cowboys.
At an altitude of 7,220 feet above sea level, Arena-Auditorium is the highest basketball arena in NCAA Division I competition, meaning the altitude and crowd noise help give the Cowboys a home-court advantage.
The Arena-Auditorium holds 15,028 rowdy Cowboys fans and cost $15 million to construct.
320 S 2nd St
Laramie, WY 82010
2229 Grand Ave.
Laramie, WY 82070