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Official Review by Elizabeth Erickson, Stadium Journey Guest Correspondent
Opening in August 2004, the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center is home to the University of North Dakota volleyball and basketball teams, in addition to hosting various other events. The $7 million dollar facility is adjacent to the $104 million dollar Ralph Engelstad Arena, one the most premier sports venues. Named after Ralph Engelstad’s wife, “the Betty” features four regular size basketball and volleyball courts, among three team locker rooms and outstanding architecture.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Fans can venture to the south side of the Betty to indulge themselves in a large variety of classic sports venue favorites. From a bag of cotton candy ($3.50) to a heaping dish of Dip N' Dots ($4-$6), sweet treat lovers will be satisfied with the variety of choices before them.
The traditional arena hot dog ($4) is an excellent pair to an ice-cold Coors Light. In addition, beverage choices come from the selection of Coke products or a bottle of water, all at a price of $3.75.
For venue goers who desire a franchise meal instead, various Subway sandwiches are available for $5 or a slice of Little Caesars pizza for $3.50. There is something for everyone as a selection of items including nachos, peanuts, a king pretzel or caramel corn are all available at a price of $4.
Although the prices can be a bit excessive, the quality is great and the variety of food that fans can choose from is impressive.
A nearly non-existent line atop the granite lobby floor to enter the venue leads fans to the bright, spring loaded, 24,000-square-foot wood floor court that can be seen well from nearly any seat. The 3,300 seating capacity of the Betty leaves fans with ample space as a full house is rare on a typical night of North Dakota basketball. Along with 700 bleacher seats, the remaining 2,600 padded and upholstered seats with armrests provide a comfortable viewing environment.
Cheerleaders and a pep band keep fans engaged and the occasional sign in the student section amps up the energy during big plays. A booming, announcing voice over the loudspeaker that fills every inch of the Betty also keeps fans in check of the game. For the younger crowd, children can enjoy jumping around in an inflatable bounce house set up on the north end of the court.
Located near campus, the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center is a short walk for students. It is a typical college community with many buildings in the area. However, restaurants near the facility are scarce as the University campus is not home to many choices nearby.
Located just north on Gateway Drive about a five minute drive, Al's Grill & Catering offers the American classics at great prices you would expect. Efficient, friendly service accompanies a great variety of food before a night of excitement at the Betty.
For buffet style food, the Italian Moon features a selection of pizza, chicken, pasta, breadsticks and much more, with the optional ice cream cone for dessert that can be enjoyed for around $10. Located at a convenient 10-minute drive from the Betty, the old hockey games playing on TV screens throughout the restaurant provide the ideal atmosphere before a big game.
Frigid North Dakota winters provide an incentive for fans to venture indoors to experience a basketball game at the Betty. Although weeknights typically yield a lower attendance than a weekend game would, the usual supportive crowd will come out to cheer for their favorite team.
Promotions and occasional free food for students to attend succeed in filling the bleachers at the bottom of the basket for a courtside experience enjoyed by many, while an evenly dispersed crowd of locals and travelers fill the sides of the court. The fans are what you would typically expect to see at a college basketball game - quiet at times, but very involved in the game during key plays and points. They get very amped up when they need to and keep energy at a good level during the game.
Located just north of the University of North Dakota campus, the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center is an easy walk for students attending a game. However, fans traveling north on Interstate 29 will also find it an easy, short drive to the venue after exiting.
Parking is available for $5 just outside the Betty in various lots designated for such events. There are also several nearby lots in the area to ensure ample parking. Although traffic may pick up before and after a game, it is typically very manageable and efficient.
Inside the arena, the flow of general traffic through large spaces to walk provides for easy movement around the venue. At halftime, fans may experience slight crowding in the concession area as hungry guests flock to purchase food and beverages. Restrooms are located at each corner of the venue for easy access to all attendees. Their cleanliness and spaciousness accompany the high quality of the entire building.
The Betty Engelstad Sioux Center offers an excellent value for those that attend a basketball game. Adult tickets can be purchased for $12 for seats closest to the court and $7 for a seat higher in the stands through ticketmaster or at the game. Students can pick up their free ticket at the ticket office located on campus. With the many options for concessions and a large selection of seats to choose from, fans can ensure that their experience is to their liking.
Upon entering the facility, fans will set foot on a granite floor and find themselves before many photos of past teams and championship photos. It is what could be called a "hall of fame" that showcases the programs success through many images.
Also unique to the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center is the classy ticket design. With a faint watermark in the background, the ticket features dominant school colors of green and white that fans will want to keep as a souvenir.
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