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Official Review by Stephen Schmidt, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
When it came time to replace Barnhill Arena on the University of Arkansas campus, the goal was to create a building that had more seats in less space than the other arena. When the building opened in 1993, the Razorbacks quickly established a strong rapport with their home gym.
The men’s basketball team rode the momentum of Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” to a 16-0 home record before claiming the NCAA National Championship in 1994. Heading into the 2013-14 season, the Hogs have enjoyed an overall winning percentage of approximately 80 percent.
To make a visit to “the Bud” is to take a stroll down Memory Lane and relive all of the highlights that make the building still one of the most feared places to play, while Arkansas fans try to hog call their Razorbacks back to their national powerhouse status once again.
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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".
The arena features plenty of concession stands with classic offerings. Some of the more popular selections are nachos ($5), popcorn ($4), hot dogs ($4), and corndogs ($7) with some Pepsi products to wash it all down. There is also a Chick-fil-A stand that sells its chicken sandwiches for $5, among other offerings.
Those with a sweet tooth can grab some roasted pecans and almonds ($5 for a small bag, $9 for a large), kettle corn ($6) from the Ozark Candies & Nut Stand, or grab some Blue Bunny ice cream products for $5 a pop.
Most fans enter on the south end of the arena's large glass atrium. From there, you can either check out the spacious Hog Heaven merchandise store (a great place to pick up a plastic Hog hat for $25), the Arkansas athletics museum exhibit (see below), or head upstairs to the main concourse.
One great aspect of the seats is that they are all padded - even those in the upper deck where one can get a good appreciation of the school's basketball tradition after gazing over all of the banners hanging in the rafters.
It should be noted there is not one, but five banners for the 1994 national championship squad - one located in each corner and one near the scoreboard for good measure. The names of Corliss Williamson, Corey Beck and Scotty Thurmond (who is currently a member of the Arkansas coaching staff) always bring smiles to the faces of folks in these parts.
If you want to have the giant Razorback logo facing you, then you should go for seats on the building's south side, although there isn't really a bad seat in the house. Even from the top of the building, it's easy to keep track of the action without the help of binoculars. The band and student section is perched in the southeast corner. Students can get quite loud, but they are much more of a factor if they would circle the court like at Florida, Michigan State, and Duke.
Fayetteville is an upper echelon college town when it comes to all of the classic amenities that one would hope would complement the game day experience. Either before or after the game, take the short drive to Dickson Street (good luck with parking), the lifeblood of the city with its collection of bars, restaurants, and other entertainment options. Those who are just looking for a quick bite near the arena will be able to find just about any chain eatery on nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Further away from campus, fans can find two locations of Foghorn's, which serves up wings and sports of all kinds. The latter location is right across the street from the school's baseball venue, Baum Stadium. The one downside to the areas around the campus is a relative lack of nearby hotels. The only choice for staying in downtown Fayetteville is at the Chancellor Hotel. Those who want to stay on campus should check out The Inn at Carnall Hall. Near Baum Stadium sits a Staybridge Suites, with other chains nearby, such as Candlewood Suites.
At some point, you'll hear the PA announcer yell that it's "time to call those Hogs!" In an instant, thousands of pairs of arms will shoot into the air lifted by the buoyancy of a shrill hog call that has to be witnessed in person to be fully appreciated.
Most of those sitting next to you make up a knowledgeable fan base that is happy to yell out suggestions for both the home team and officiating crew while decked out mostly in cardinal and white. The place gets flat out loud when the stands are full, but that has become more of a rarity except when a marquee team comes into town.
The bathrooms are spacious and easy to find. The concourse provides plenty of room to navigate. Everything in the building is well labeled.
Parking, however can be a bit of a problem. The nearby lots are reserved for season ticket holders and other people with more clout than the Average Joe. The closest parking lot on campus is north of the football stadium, which is a bit of a hike (especially on a blustery winter evening). When the Chick-fil-A across the street from campus says that parking is for customers only, you know you have parking issues.
The food and souvenirs are certainly not sold at bargain prices, but the majority of the seats have been $25 for several years, which remains a great value when compared to other facilities of similar stature - especially when the ambiance amps up if the Hogs are in a close game late in the second half. Those looking for an even greater deal should check out the $20 seats in "The Loft" in sections 207-211.
One point is awarded for the collection of visuals around the main concourse that illustrate the Hogs' glory days in the mid 90s. If you're foreign to the school's basketball history, it's worth getting there a little early to walk around.
One point is given for the athletics museum located on the south end of the building. The exhibit takes a holistic view of the school's accomplishments on all playing fields. Those who love seeing lots of trophies should be sure to check out the track and field section.
One point for the 1994 National Championship banner, as well as an additional five Final Four appearances for the program (1941, 1945, 1978, 1990, and 1995).
The arena has many nicknames. Call it "the Bud." Call it the "Basketball Palace of Mid America" - as it reads on the outside of the building. I'll just call it one of the best and most unique places for a college basketball fan to watch the game.
Member Review by BradleeRoss on Feb 29, 2012
Bud Walton Arena, also known as the Basketball Palace of Mid-America, is home to the University of Arkansas’s Razorbacks and Lady Razorbacks basketball teams. The arena is the fifth-largest on-campus arena in the United States with a seating capacity of 19,368. Named for James "Bud" Walton, the co-founder of Walmart who paid for half of the construction cost, Bud Walton Arena opened on November 29, 1993.
Member Review by Razorback on Jan 05, 2014
Such a great Arena! Go Hogs!
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