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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Auburn University was founded in 1856 and was the first land grant university in the South. Now home to more than 26,000 students, Auburn is proud of its agricultural heritage, but is also home to top schools in the areas of engineering, pharmacy, aerospace engineering and Hospitality Management. It is a proud member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in all intercollegiate sports.
Auburn’s basketball program is housed in the Auburn Arena, an on-campus facility built in 2010, with a seating capacity of 9,121 in its basketball configuration. Its design means that no seat in the arena is more than 43 feet from the court and no more than 27 feet in elevation from courtside. There literally is not a bad seat in the house. The arena features a separate entrance for the student seating, which greatly improves the flow of fans getting into the arena. Other amenities include a team store, six concession stands, a kids play area, 94 HD televisions spread around the concourses and super suites for major donors. The concourse surrounding the court is open, so you still see the game action while at the concession stand.
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".
As one of the newer basketball facilities in the SEC, Auburn Arena has a wide variety of concession items available, and the stands are well distributed around the building. Prices in the school run concession areas run from $4-$6 for a soda, bottled water for $2.00, the Bo-dacious Burger for $8.00 (it is huge) and $4.00 for popcorn. Some less expensive options are the individually-owned stands run by area chains. These include Chick-fil-A, Wholly Habanero's, Aubie Chow and my favorite, Dreamland BBQ (BBQ sandwich $7.00, Smoked Sausage $7.00). Dreamland BBQ is a legend in the state of Alabama. Whether you are in Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Birmingham or Montgomery, Dreamland needs to be on your itinerary.
Auburn basketball made a bold and competitive move with the hiring of Bruce Pearl after the 2013-2014 season. In just a short period of time, Coach Pearl has converted a "football" town into a campus pumped and ready for roundball season. He has spent countless hours promoting the program to area residents and students, and has a proven record for turning around basketball programs that have been down on their luck. The atmosphere at games is dramatically different from the years before his arrival, going from a half-filled arena last year to one that sells out of season tickets. The Tiger Nation is definitely on board with the basketball program for the first time in many years.
Auburn is a college town in the true sense of the word. College Avenue is the main thoroughfare, and it is home to shops, restaurants, bookstores and other services that are necessities for the student body. It has long been heralded as the "Loveliest Village on the Plains" and the town works hard to live up to its reputation. Its tree-lined streets and on-street parking right in front of businesses show that it has retained the small-town charm over the years. Most of the businesses in town are directly across the street from the campus, and many of them, such as J&M Bookstore and Toomer's Drugs, have operated from the same site for more than 50 years. It's no wonder that U.S. News has ranked it as one of the top ten places to live in the country.
Lodging near the arena includes The Hotel at Auburn (241 South College St) and the Hampton Inn (2439 South College St). Restaurants of note are Acre, which features farm-to-table cuisine (210 East Glenn Avenue) and Avondale Bar and Tap (106A North College Ave). For nightlife, the place to be is Skybar (136 West Magnolia Avenue).
Auburn fans are among the most rabid sports fans in the country. This used to be mainly focused on the nationally ranked football and baseball programs, but that energy and excitement has now reached the Auburn Arena and the basketball program with the arrival of Coach Pearl. Students arrive hours early to get one of the 1,500 student courtside seats, and a basketball ticket has now become a hard item to get for the first time in many years. Expect the cry "War Eagle!" ringing from the student section, aka "The Jungle," to ring in your ears for days afterwards. Add to that a great pep band and the always entertaining Aubie the Tiger, and this house is rocking.
Auburn's campus is located five miles off I-85, about 30 miles west of the Georgia / Alabama state line. The flow into town is good until you reach downtown and the campus, as the road narrows. Close-in parking is reserved for major donors, persons with disabilities and valet parking. For the general public attending a single game, the best choices on campus are in the Stadium Parking Deck, the Lowder Business Lot or the Coliseum Lot. Auburn also has several satellite lots located further away, which are served continuously by Tiger Transit Shuttles. Once you are at the arena, the accessibility is excellent. Both concourses and aisles allow for a good flow of fans throughout the game. There are more than adequate numbers of bathrooms throughout the arena.
A trip to Auburn will take you back to a simpler, less chaotic time on a major college campus. Hotels fall within the $150 range at the top to the $60-$70 range out closer to the interstate, which is only five miles from campus. Tickets are in the $20 range on a single game basis, and figure in $5 for parking. The restaurants and shops in the area are very reasonably priced. Factor in games featuring such top-ranked teams as Kentucky, Florida and a tough non-conference schedule and a trip to the Loveliest Village on the Plains is well worth the price.
The Lovelace Hall of Honor, housed in the Auburn Arena, is a must-see. Plan to get to the arena early, as the Hall opens 90 minutes prior to the game. The treasures of Auburn's sports history are all on view here, from the National Championship football trophy for 2006 to Bo Jackson's Heisman Trophy. There are a number of exhibits dedicated to past Tiger stars, including Charles Barkley, one of Auburn's most storied basketball players. Visitors are also welcomed to the Celebration area, where they can virtually experience Toomer's Corner, site of many wild celebrations of Auburn's greatest victories. Like many of the newer Halls, the Lovelace is not a museum -- it is an interactive experience immersing you into the glory that is Auburn athletics. On non-game days, the Hall of Honor is open Monday- Friday, 8am -1pm.
Toomer's Corner and Toomer's Drugstore are required visits to any pilgrimage to Auburn. Toomer's is the traditional site for student celebrations, and Toomer's Drugs features an old fashioned soda parlor with the best ice cream and lemonade you will ever taste.
For golfers, Auburn is home to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. This is a series of courses designed by Robert Trent Jones, one of the world's leading course designers. Tee times must be reserved months in advance for these popular and challenging courses.
As an Auburn graduate, it is great to see how Auburn is investing in its basketball program, both through facilities and bringing in a proven winner as coach. Football and baseball have long dominated the Auburn athletic scene, and it is nice to see basketball being elevated to a more equal footing, resource-wise.
Member Review by Nathan
Throughout the years, Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum was the home of the Auburn Tigers. The arena usually saw the Tigers win and was home to many memorable events, ranging from basketball games to concerts to graduations.
As time passed, however, the Coliseum became old and Auburn knew it had to build a new home soon or else their current home would collapse right on top of them at some point. Thus, after an emotional goodbye to Beard-Eaves, the Tigers headed to Auburn Arena, the SEC's most technologically-advanced coliseum. The Tigers' new home includes an upper deck, a museum and other forms of sports entertainment.
114 W Magnolia Ave
Auburn, AL 36830
1151 Opelika Rd
Auburn, AL 36830
174 E Magnolia Ave
Auburn, AL 36830
136 W Magnolia Ave
Auburn, AL 36830
2013 South College St.
Auburn, AL 36832