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Official Review by DeRon Talley, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
When your campus is filled with a bunch of ragin’ Cajuns the best place to put them is in a dome for basketball events and that’s just what the University of Louisiana at Lafayette did. The school plays its basketball and volleyball games in the Cajun Dome, which is located about two miles away from the campus.
The Cajun Dome was built by the State of Louisiana, funded by the City of Lafayette, and is owned by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. This multi-purpose facility is the place to be for any event including many major concerts in the region. Its capacity can max out at 13,500 and Ragin’ Cajuns aren’t the only fans who fill the place. The Dome is also home to the Louisiana Ice Gators hockey team.
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".
When you have a facility that is known for hosting big events, the smaller events benefit greatly, especially at the concession stands. At the Cajun Dome you can find a large draft beer for $6.50, a jumbo draft beer for $8.50, and for other bottled drinks it costs $4.
For the foods there is a W.O.W (World of Wings) wing stand with a variety of foods that range from fries that costs $5 to wings with fries for $8, a pizza stand by the slice that costs $5.50 for each (pepperoni or cheese), and a nacho bar that offers a large nacho for $8 and for a small $5. The best bet would be to just wait until after the game to eat to find a local Cajun restaurant where you can find the best hometown foods, but what it is on offer is solid in the arena as well.
The Ragin' Cajuns fans have to be amongst the best in the Sun Belt Conference. There were fans of all kinds who attended. What really impressed me was this group of five older men who dressed in right and white striped overalls. Usually you see a group of frat boys doing something similar in the student section, but these guys were not quite that exactly. Let's just say they reminded me of a group of Boss Hogs, from the sitcom The Dukes of Hazzard.
As far as the game goes, ULL provides a strong introduction for its athletes, which gives the feeling of an NBA game with the strobe lights and introduction videos on the video board. I was really surprised by the atmosphere, but then I remembered the city of Lafayette and not just the school itself funded the facility. That makes a big difference in terms of paying for the advanced technology in the dome.
The area that the Cajun Dome sets in is away from the university. However, across from it is Cajun Field, where the school plays football. There is also a Hilton Garden Inn, for those fans who may want to stay in the area overnight. By having that hotel there, it makes staying accommodations for tourists and fans from far out to come and enjoy the culture the Ragin' Cajuns have to share. A few blocks down there is a shopping strip and some fast food restaurants.
The only negative is that the athletic facilities are set away by themselves, so there isn't much neighborhood to it. The Downtown area is about three to five miles from the athletic areas and is closer to the school's campus itself. If you get there then you are in for a treat as Lafayette has an impressive downtown district.
As I mentioned earlier about the Boss Hogs, the fans are really into supporting their Ragin' Cajun athletics. The cutest thing I saw was a dad who brought his daughter to the game and while dad would stress over a few bad calls by the referees the daughter would pat him on the back and continue to hold up her Ragin' Cajun sign.
Of course the pep band was there and because you're in the south you better believe they play the second line music that is popular in the South Louisiana. When the tubas hit the first note, it seem like the fans already were up on their feet dancing.
The stadium is located on Cajundome Boulevard, but it isn't as easily accessed. It's pretty far off of the interstate and trying to find parking to get in the game is a nightmare. Once you get in the stadium things are laid out pretty easily. Much like an NBA Arena actually, except a bit smaller. If you want to get to the upper level there are escalators and I was very pleased with that.
To get in the game would cost you about $8 to sit at the third level, which is what I paid. Eventually I moved down closer to an empty seat. For the first and second level seating the prices jump up to $15, which still isn't too bad for the quality of the atmosphere and arena.
The Cajun Dome has its extras. I always give a point for free parking because it isn't the case everywhere. The second point goes to the escalators inside to go to the upper level. The third goes to the give-a-ways. Upon walking in the game I received two free shirts and a key chain saying I support breast cancer. All that just for showing up, I must say is a huge plus.
ULL did a great job containing the Ragin' Cajuns and keeping them satisfied in the Cajun Dome. After all I don't think anyone wants a bunch hot Cajuns after them, especially if they are as spicy as their food.
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2350 W Congress St
Lafayette, LA 70506