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Official Review by Bradlee Ross, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Bank of Oklahoma Center is a multi-purpose arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It houses the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League, along with the Tulsa Shock of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The arena opened on August 30, 2008, and it has a seating capacity for basketball of 17, 839.
The Tulsa Shock has played its home games in the BOK Center since 2010, when the team moved to Tulsa from Detroit. It is one of the few WNBA franchises that does not share a city with an NBA counterpart.
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 food at this venue is one of the best parts about the experience. There is plenty of variety, besides your common, garden-variety concession foods like popcorn, hot dogs and pretzels.
At first glance, all the concession areas tend to look the same. However, upon closer inspection, you'll see that each of them is a different type of place. One has Papa John's Pizza, which is very affordably-priced. There is also one that is Billy's, a place that specializes primarily in fried foods, and a barbecue concession called Dickey's Barbecue Pit.
There are also smaller stands around the concourse that sell Dippin' Dots, beer and peanuts. Two particular stands I would have to recommend are The Dog House and the Igloo's Frozen Drinks. The Dog House has many different kinds of specialty hot dogs, and the one I'd recommend is the Tulsa Dog, which has bacon, barbecue sauce, relish and mustard. Igloo's Frozen Drinks come in strawberry, margarita and swirl. I highly recommend the swirl, but only if you're 21 years of age, of course.
The prices on the food and drink are a bit high. The quality and variety are good though, so it is mostly worth it.
Like most professional sporting events, the BOK Center has music and sound effects played for much of the time. However, in this case the added sound is a bit distracting and hurts the overall atmosphere. This was mainly because they seemed to repeat the same old things over and over, and, after awhile, just about anything can become annoying.
The mascot, Volt, seemed to be a fun guy, but his presence really added nothing at all to the experience. There were also some games that were played every now and then on the court during timeouts, but nothing to get really pumped about. Like their brother franchise, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Shock fans also stand until their team scores for the first time. However, unlike Thunder fans, not all the Shock fans even participate.
The BOK Center is located in downtown Tulsa, where there are a ton of different things to do. As far as live entertainment goes, there are the Brady Theater, Tulsa Convention Center and Tulsa Performing Arts Center that all host different live attractions throughout the year.
There are also a lot of good places to eat. Billy's on the Square, Baxter's Interurban Grill and Arnie's Bar are just a few. Numerous museums highlighting the art and culture of Oklahoma could also present some interesting distractions when you aren't thinking about sports.
The crowd itself was pretty small. In fact, less than half of the seats were filled, and there was a whole upper deck that wasn't even used. Despite their small size, the fans were pretty loud. Nothing earth-shaking, but they were very loud for their size. One can tell pretty quickly that the Shock have developed a group of die-hard fans. Unfortunately, that group is a pretty small contingency.
The parking garage that I parked in was very close, and it only cost $8 to park there. Free or cheaper parking is tough to find in that particular area. However, the eight-dollar garage had plenty of room, even on ground level. Tulsa itself is not an easy city to navigate. It always seems to be under construction, especially on the main highways that lead to downtown where the BOK Center is.
The seating in the BOK is pretty comfortable, and the walkways and aisles are spacious enough that you should be able to comfortably get anywhere you want to go. The arena is also small enough that there really isn't a bad seat in the place. The bathrooms are clean and pretty nice.
The return on the investment in a ticket here isn't great. Ticket prices range from $10 at the cheapest to $120 a piece for floor seats. Obviously, it isn't terribly expensive for any seat, but the experience really isn't good enough to spend more than the cheapest $10 ticket.
One extra point goes to this venue for one of their halftime events. For the first portion of halftime, the Shock had two of their youth developmental teams play. It had to be pretty awesome for those young, middle school-age girls to play on the same court as their heroes do.
All in all, a Tulsa Shock game should not be your first choice for sports entertainment if you are in the Tulsa area. With a minor league baseball team, a minor league hockey team and a Divison I university in town, the Shock at the BOK Center is down pretty far on the list. But if you love basketball and want to watch it in a top-notch facility, this experience might just be for you.
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424 S Main St
Tulsa, OK 74103
717 S Houston Ave
Tulsa, OK 74127
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