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Official Review by Geoff Crawley, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Bender Arena is home to American University's men's basketball team. If it were a home, and I were a Realtor, and I was trying to sell it to you, I'd use words like, "charming" and "cozy." But it isn't and I'm not, so I'll use other words, like "small" and "where's the food?"
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".
Uh, let's see, there's pizza, hot dogs, nachos, ice cream and funnel cake. That's it. Oh, and sodas and Gatorade. The pricing is terrific, though.
This is where the size of the arena works to its advantage. I am a huge fan of on-campus arenas. The atmosphere is almost always better. The intimate size makes the crowd sound much bigger than it actually is, and the students are terrific. More on them later.
Yeah, so the arena is smack dab in the middle of campus, so your options are Subway, McDonald's, or the Mega Bytes Cafe, which has a logo that looks suspiciously like a Seattle based coffee shop whose name rhymes with Barstucks. (Hint: it isn't Dunkin Donuts.) They make decent sandwiches though.
Students, as a rule, make any crowd exponentially better. And American's students are no exception. During visiting team introductions, they all yell, "SUCKS!" after each player's name. So you get this:
Forward Matt Johnson SUCKS
Guard Will Blackmon SUCKS
And so on. Are they the only fans that do this? No. But it doesn't make it any less awesome. They have a definite impact on momentum, and I actually did a double take a couple of times to see if I was in a bigger arena. I would have liked to have seen more of them, as the two end sections were mostly empty.
Bender Arena is easy to find if you have a GPS, not so much if you don't. It isn't terribly well signed either. There is plenty of free parking, as long as the game is after 5 during the week or anytime on the weekend. The bathroom (singular) is large and clean.
No ticket in the arena is more than $15, and most are far less than that. The food, while very limited, is very fairly priced.
One extra point for having the main arena on campus.
Division I basketball in one of the world's greatest cities for less than $50 for a family of four is a great deal. That's what you get with Bender Arena. Are there better venues in the Washington DC area? Sure, but not at that price. It's pretty fun, and you don't need a second mortgage to check it out. So check it out.
Geoff Crawley is the Mid Atlantic Regional Correspondent and Voice of the Fan and is the host of a weekly podcast.
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