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Official Review by Jason Bullock, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Who is Eddie Cameron? If you asked most people outside of Durham, North Carolina, you would probably get a blank stare. Forty-six years of involvement in Duke athletics earned him the honor of having one of the most storied basketball arenas in the world named after him. Duke Indoor Stadium opened in 1940 and was renamed in 1972 after the former basketball/football coach and athletic director of the Blue Devils.
Duke has played over 900 games in Cameron, and while they have found their greatest success under Coach K (after whom the court was named in 2000), they have a history of home-court advantage, compiling an 84% winning percentage over the 70+ years in their building.
Over 9,000 fans find their way to Cameron for each home game to fill it to capacity and rarely do they leave disappointed. With 17 consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament, four National Championship banners hanging from the rafters and a contending team every year, the home of the Blue Devils will continue to be a place to celebrate for Duke fans for years to come.
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".
If you're hungry, you can get the basics in the main concourse at Cameron. Barbecue pork sandwiches appear to be popular, and at just $5, they are a good value. My favorite is the Bojangles' chicken sandwich ($5), but you can also get a burger, hot dog or pizza if you prefer. Coca-Cola products ($4) are the beverage of choice, and there are a few candy bar options available for those with a sweet tooth. All concessions in the main concourse accept debit/credit cards.
In the Hall of Honor, there are some stand-alone concession stands that have some different options, including ice cream and bottled sodas. If food is a necessary part of the game, your needs will be met, but don't feel as though you will miss something by deciding to eat before or after the game.
If you haven't been to Cameron before, you may be surprised your first time by just how small it is. While the school could probably sell out an arena three times as big, the intimate setup of Cameron is part of the atmosphere. The majority of the lower-level seating consists of students, graduates, Duke guests and opposing team guests. The students own the whole side of the court across from the player benches, and the pep band is located on the baseline closest to the visiting team bench. Don't worry, though -- even if you're located in the upper level in one of the last rows, you still have a great seat. Finding your seat is pretty easy, as each section has its own entrance from the main concourse. Take note that even seats will be to your left and odd are to the right, as it can be confusing on your first visit.
There is a large scoreboard hanging above center court that shows live action and also keeps you up to date with replays and all of the stats you need throughout the game. The pep band is a great addition to the atmosphere, and the dance team and cheerleaders will keep you entertained throughout the game. You will see the Blue Devil mascot on the court during many of the timeouts, usually leading cheers near the student section, not that they need to be motivated.
Whether you are cheering for Duke or a fan of the opposing team hoping for a rare win at Cameron, the energy and excitement here has to get you pumped up.
Cameron is located on the southern part of campus right next to Wallace Wade Stadium, home of the football team. Duke has a nice campus, and it is worth a walk around to take in the sights.
If you are in the mood for shopping, head over to the Ninth Street Shopping District, which is just east of campus. While you are there, check out Chubby's Tacos, which offers good food at a great value.
If you are in need of lodging, there is a nice Hampton Inn near Northgate Mall, right off of I-85, Exit 176 that is moderately priced and only a few miles from campus.
The 'Cameron Crazies' lead the way here. They are at the game well before tip-off and don't let up all the way to the final buzzer. Dressed (and some painted) in blue, they stand the entire game and are known for their chants and taunts towards other teams. There are too many to name here, but a few of my favorite include "Hi (player name)" during opposing team introductions - a warm greeting to what will invariably be a long day of not-so-thoughtful cheers.
"You let your whole team down" is directed towards a player that either committed a foul or a turnover and during opponents' inbound plays, the Crazies will all put their arms out and wiggle their fingers as if they are putting a hex on the player. There are so many more, but part of the experience is hearing them for the first time. Yeah, they cross the line every once in awhile, but I found the majority of their chants to be witty and timely.
Not only are the students 'crazy' about their team, so are their fans. They know their team, they know their players and they stay engaged the entire time. There were very few empty seats at the opening tip on the night I visited, and the fans didn't waste anytime getting into the game. As most fans are season ticket holders, they are very familiar with each other, and it appeared as though some were with their second family. Even though it was pretty much a blowout in the second half of the game I most recently attended in early 2013, the place was still full all the way until the end. This level of support from students and fans has got to be worth a few points for the home team every game.
For general parking, it is best to head over to the Large Circuit parking lot off of Circuit Drive on campus. The cost is $10 (bring cash) and is about a 10-15 minute walk to Cameron. If you would rather not walk, a free shuttle bus runs back and forth before and after the game. Getting in the arena is a pretty quick process, but once inside it's a different story. The concourse is small and packed, so plan on allowing yourself plenty of time for food and restroom breaks especially at halftime. Restrooms are few and far between, and there is typically a long line during halftime. If you have to eat, I recommend getting your food pregame and if a restroom break is needed, plan to go at one of the TV timeouts during game play. Otherwise, you may be still be in line at the start of the second half!
Demand is high for Duke tickets, and so is the price. You may be lucky and find one of their early non-conference games in the neighborhood of $100 on the secondary market. Want to go to a conference game? Look at a minimum of $200 for the lower level, non-rival ACC teams, and it goes up from there, with UNC being the big ticket. The price of parking is a little bit more than at most college games I have attended, and food prices are decent. With that said, you can't go wrong with a game at Cameron. If you have an opportunity to go and it's in your budget, don't miss the experience.
One point for the 'Crazies' - can't say enough about them.
Another category that deserves another point is atmosphere. I have had the opportunity to attend a few Duke games, and it's always electric.
And then, there's Krzyzewskiville. We've all heard about it, but actually seeing it was an experience. Camping out (in winter?) for tickets to a basketball game shows the passion the students have for their school.
Get there early (or stay late) and visit the Duke Basketball Museum. Jerseys, game balls, trophies and a tribute to Coach K are among the items you will find. Even if you're not a Blue Devil fan, it is a cool experience and shouldn't be missed.
Finally, there are banners, banners and more banners. You can't help but be proud (as a Dookie) or envious (as an opposing fan) when looking at the history of names and titles that hang from the rafters.
Full disclosure here - I'm a Maryland Terrapin fan. As a supporter of any of my favorite teams, it's not often I go into a rival's building (well, according to the Crazies, the Terps are "Not our rival!"), leave on the losing end of the score and can say I had a great time. If Cameron Indoor Stadium is not on your bucket list, add it immediately and get to a game!
Member Review by paul
Cameron. The word may make you think of a former NFL and college head coach, a character in Ferris Bueller's Day Off sporting a Detroit Red Wings jersey, or a beautiful blonde actress. But if you're a fan of college basketball, you are much more likely to conjure an image of Cameron Indoor Stadium, home of the Duke Blue Devils basketball team.
The stadium is also home to one of the great student sections of all time, the Cameron Crazies. And, perhaps the second greatest college basketball coach of all-time (John Wooden takes that title in my book), Mike Krzyzewski also helps to make this a special place to see college basketball.
If you jotted down a list of the stadiums you would most like to visit in your lifetime (try it sometime), Cameron Indoor Stadium would likely make your list, and you would be right. Do it. Make the trip. You'll be glad you did.
Member Review by Kristospherein on Jan 31, 2012
as the best arena to see a basketball game in this country (and I'm a Kansas fan). The atmosphere was unmatched and the Crazies are truly amusing to watch the entire game. I got the opportunity to see the first home game after Coach K passed Coach Knight in wins and it was memorable. The seats are a bit cramped but not overwhelming (I'm 6'2). Parking was a bit difficult but with a game plan ahead of time, I was able to find some fairly close. Also, signage for the stadium is lacking and we got lost (with several other fans) trying to locate the stadium.
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