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Official Review by Daryn Skjefte, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The University of North Dakota Men’s basketball team has one of the most beautiful and original college basketball venues in the Midwest. The Betty Engelstad Sioux Center is home to Men’s and Women’s basketball, Women’s volleyball, and Women’s soccer.
The facility opened its doors in August 2004 and continues to provide an elaborate home game experience for both players and fans alike. The outside of the building is encased in gorgeous brick and is attached to The Ralph Engelstad Arena, home of North Dakota Hockey. The sheer beauty of the venue can be felt as soon as the building is in view. The $8 million dollar facility offers a number of amenities for both athletes and fans including the “high quality spring loaded floor, power operated basketball standards and divider curtains, four regulation size basketball and volleyball courts, 2,600 padded seats that include armrests, a club lounge, and a hospitality room that can fit up to 200 people” (Betty Engelstad Sioux Center Quick Facts).
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 Betty has a variety of food items for a college basketball facility. These items include popcorn ($4.00), soft pretzels ($4.00), Dippin Dots ($4.50), the classic hot dog ($4.50) as well as bottled Pepsi products ($4.00). While there are other options available, these are definitely some of the biggest fan favorites. All of the concession items can be found on the main level which has three separate areas for fans to purchase their items of choice. While there isn't anything that stands out to me about the concession options, I do have to comment on how organized and easy it is to get to each location. This makes for a great fan experience whether you are there with your children or your grandparents. The lines are short and move quickly, making it easy to get in and out of your seat at any point during the game.
The Betty Engelstad Sioux Center has a capacity of 3,140 for basketball games (men's and women's) that includes both padded chairs with armrests and classic bleacher seating. The padded individual seats are constructed of leather and cherry wood and are quite elaborate for a college athletic setting.
The facility recently got an upgrade in scoreboards, which make for a very professional experience. The digital boards are constantly showing replays, interactive fan games, and video clips of the players. There is a video board on each end of the main court, making it easy for fans to catch all of the action from any seat. The fans are up close and personal with the game, which makes the atmosphere exciting and exhilarating. The entire crowd gets into the games; leaving nothing to be desired. The facility's size and layout give the fans a very authentic feel. The passion for the game and North Dakota makes itself very apparent from the first steps inside.
The Betty is situated right off of the University of North Dakota campus, next to the Ralph Engelstad Arena. The facility is also located just over a mile off of interstate I-29 making for easy access for out of town fans. The venue is surrounded by actual neighborhoods, the UND Student Wellness Center, the UND medical school, and a small number of businesses.
There is not any food or hotel options directly next to The Betty, but the city of Grand Forks offers plenty of eatery/hotel options all within a four mile radius of the venue.
The University of North Dakota fans are energetic, determined, and devoted. While the student section is filled for every home game, it is very encouraging to see a wide variety of fans ranging in age. The season ticket holders have some of the best courtside seats available, making for a perfect view of the digital video boards, cheerleaders, and interactive fan games. The Betty seats 3,140 and is often filled to the brim with enthusiastic fans. Many of the younger fans can be seen with fatheads of the players, and are jumping up and down after each and every play. The sincere "hometown" feel you get at a North Dakota basketball game is unlike anything else.
The Betty is just over a mile off of I-29, with four big parking lots and plenty street parking. The parking lots that surround the building all offer free parking for afternoon games, and $5 for evening games. There is often multiple events going on between the three different venues that are connected, (The Betty, The Olympic Ice Arena, and The Ralph Engelstad Arena) which can make parking a little troubling at times. There are two locations that fans can enter the facility through; making for easy access to escape the cold weather that often plagues North Dakota.
There are four bathrooms located at each corner of the court, making them very accessible for each and every fan. The main concession area is located behind one of the bleacher sets, creating a large gathering area for fans. The facility itself is large but has strategically placed everything a fan could need all within steps of their seats. While there isn't a "lack" of a concourse, it is different from some facilities in the fact that most everything is situated on the same level as the court.
Tickets for adults can run anywhere from $10-$20, and are free to UND students. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office inside the lobby, by phone, or online.
The ticket prices for college basketball are very reasonable, and do not waiver from game to game. There are multiple ticket options for families, season passes, and variety game packages. The atmosphere alone is enough excitement for anyone, but there is just something about going to a great facility that makes for a great basketball game. The venue itself is world class, and is something that should be seen by many.
The Betty doesn't offer many extras, but fans certainly do not seem to notice. The moment they enter the venue, they are greeted by the players doing their warm-ups, loud pump up music, and the great smell of popcorn. There are quite a few interactive fan games that take place throughout the game, a live pep band, and a "human t-shirt cannon" that is constantly throwing out shirts to fans when UND makes a particular play. The entire experience is interactive and does a fantastic job of bringing the game up close and personal.
The Betty Engelstad Sioux Center is truly a work of art that deserves to be recognized. College basketball is often a tradition for families and friends and this location does not disappoint. The ticket prices are hard to beat, the parking is easy and priced appropriately, and the in-game experience is second to none. I would definitely recommend checking out The Betty Engelstad Sioux Center if you find yourself in Grand Forks.
Member Review by Elizabeth-E on Feb 20, 2013
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.
312 Kittson Ave
Grand Forks, ND 58201
1011 University Ave
Grand Forks, ND 58203
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