The Canton Charge are the NBA D-League affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers and call the historic Canton Memorial Civic Center their home. Built in 1951, the facility has been home to everything from the Canton Invaders of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) to WWE Smackdown to a President Obama event in 2009.
Step inside the building and you immediately feel like Dr. J, the Iceman, or Marvin Barnes should be walking out of the tunnel. The serene nostalgia is quickly combined with a fresh and modern presentation of professional basketball.
The roots of the Canton Charge go back to the early days of the NBA D-League and the Huntsville Flight. After leaving Alabama in 2005, the franchise called New Mexico home until 2011 when the team was then purchased by the Cleveland Cavaliers and moved to Canton and serving as the NBA team’s primary affiliate. Since then, the Cavaliers have put their stamp on the team from the front office down to the jerseys, logo, and most importantly, fan experience.
A conversation with Sean Wyatt, Canton Charge Communications Manager, instantly reveals how passionate he and the organization is about priding themselves on creating a Cleveland Cavaliers-like game day experience for their fans, and it shows! Complete with the colors, branding, in-game presentation, cheerleaders, music, fan interactions, and quality concessions, the Canton Charge experience outplay their ‘minor league’ label with an NBA-like experience.
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".
Options are abundant and lines move quickly as concession stands seem to be placed every 50 feet. Standard fare is available in the built-in concession areas and specialty items are offered at tables/islands throughout the U-shaped concourse. The one drawback is that there is not a lot of seating to eat before heading back to your seat.
The specialty items offered at Canton Charge games are in fact special. First on the list is the Nom Nom Popcorn Company. They are local and have a table set up behind section nine for all home games. Grab the 'Wing It' (buffalo ranch) and 'Take With a Grain of Salt' (caramel, dark chocolate, and sea salt). These $5 bags of joy are so good you may not make it home with leftovers. Nom Nom also has an agreement with the Cavaliers so you may see them and their many flavor options up the road at Quicken Loans Arena.
The best value in terms of standard fare is the three chicken tenders (original or spicy) and fries basket for $7.50. Add a GLBC Christmas Ale or Dortmunder Gold for $6 (compared to $9.50 at Cavaliers games) and you are in business. Other recommendations include the local oven roasted chicken or the chicken and waffles. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a $3 root beer float, fresh lemonade, or one of the many slushie flavors.
The rest of the standard arena food is priced on the higher end of minor league concessions, but is served hot, fast, and with a smile, values not to be overlooked. Hot dogs and soft pretzels are $4 (cup of cheese is an extra $1), pizza is $6, and candy is $2. A big plus is the full gamut of Heinz condiments and Cleveland's own Stadium Mustard.
Beverage options are served in bottles only and include a wide variety of the Pepsi family. Besides the Great Lakes beers, Bud and Bud Light are available.
The premium courtside seats can include access to the Budweiser VIP Club. Located on the stage of the west side of the facility, this upgraded experience looks like a lot of fun and offers a great view of the playing court. Included beverages are Pepsi products, Budweiser, Bud Light, and Lime-A-Ritas. TJK Concessions of Canton handles the catering and offers rotating main entrees, snacks, and a halftime dessert display.
The main entrance and box office face Market Avenue N on the east side of the building. Once inside the arena, you are in the concourse behind sections 7-11 and open to the wide offering of concessions and Canton Charge team shop. Charge cheerleaders greet fans as they come in and distribute free team roster cards. The one concourse is U-shaped with a stage at the west end that is home to the Budweiser VIP Club, an upgrade option to courtside ticket holders. The concourse is ripe with plenty of concession stands running through the interior.
Courtside seats are foldable chairs with no cup holders, but close to the action. Private 'boxes,' similar to the ones at Quicken Loans Arena, are behind the baseline and sidelines and feature seating and tables. The farthest back you can sit anywhere in the building is only 20 rows back from these VIP seats. Seats are comfortable but lack extra cushion or cup holders, which adds to the character of a building built in 1951.
With a capacity close to 3,500 for basketball, any seat in the house is a good one. However, unlike newer facilities, the seats here are not all positioned towards center court. The best options for basketball are sections 3-5, 9, and 13-15. Any seat, regardless of row, is comparable to a premium NBA seat in terms of distance to the court. Sections 13-15 face the court logo and benches, and are opposite the press row.
The scoreboard has the basic game information and adds to the retro feel of the building without protruding the action. Taking a page from their big brother in Cleveland, cheerleader routines, akin to the 'Cavalier Girls' fill timeout breaks. In-game music accompaniment also mirrors Cavalier games. A drum line and mascot round out the in-game action on the floor. Timeout entertainment includes games with fan interaction and the standard mini-ball launch to the crowd.
While it seems everything the Charge management and Cavaliers influence touches turns to (wine and) gold, one area beyond their control is the neighborhood outside of the arena. The arena is in a less than desirable part of town and lacks the nightlife, restaurants, and heartbeat most sports venues enjoy. Avoid the temptation to stop at the Wendy's adjacent to the arena and check out the Desert Inn, a restaurant and lounge around the corner on 12th Street NW. The menu features authentic Middle Eastern fare, such as hummus, tabouleh, and meat and seafood kebabs in a family style retro atmosphere.
The shining star of Canton is the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Visible from I-77 and on the way to the arena from most points north and west, the birthplace of football is a six minute drive to the arena and should be on the bucket list for any sports fan. The heart of downtown Canton is a few blocks south of the arena on Market Avenue. Here you will find dining options to satisfy all tastes and budgets. The short list of favorites includes Lucca (Italian), Bender's Tavern (steak and seafood), Tapas 218 (Spanish), and George's Lounge (gastro pub). These restaurants are a three minute drive and a fifteen minute walk from the arena. The buddy system is recommended if you go with the latter.
If you are coming from the north (Akron or Cleveland), the Rail at Belden Village Mall always delivers with their local beers and specialty burgers and is only 11 minutes away. For a real treat, the Hoppin' Frog Brewery in Akron is a 25 minute drive to the north but on the way when coming from Akron and Cleveland. They boast gourmet food, a 'hoppin' beer tasting room, and maybe the best beer on the planet with a vanilla bean infused Hoppin' to Heaven IPA.
The sports scene in this area is famous for the Canton McKinley-Massillon high school football rivalry and the passion bleeds over to support for the Canton Charge. Being the only professional team in Canton, the fans are vocal and energetic. While plenty of Kyrie Irving and LeBron James jerseys fill the seats, there are just as many Charge t-shirts and sweatshirts in the pack.
Again, the influence of the Cavaliers is hard to ignore here. The professional NBA-style delivery and showmanship combined with the intimate setting of a 63 year old building makes you feel like you were sent back in a time machine to the days of the 1970's ABA.
The arena is located outside of the heart of downtown Canton, roughly 25 minutes south of Akron and one hour from Cleveland. GPS may be necessary once you get off I-77 but the facility is easy to see once you are close. The arena is in a complex also housing the Canton Museum of Art and the Canton Players Guild Theater. Because of this, parking is plentiful, inexpensive, and well-lit. Security is present and patrolling on a regular basis.
The specialty concession areas in the single concourse are primarily underneath sections 7-11 at the east end of the building. Traffic does not clog, and seems to have a smooth flow. Plenty of wheelchair access seating is on the floor in the VIP areas. With the entire arena being on one floor, it seems like nothing is off limits for fans requiring a handicap friendly facility.
With tickets starting at $7 and center court seats from the box office for roughly $25, a night with the Canton Charge is an affordable and fun family night. Pair with a visit to the Pro Football HOF or an Akron University or Kent State University basketball game, and this is a great daytrip for any sports fan in the region. To purchase Cleveland Cavaliers tickets at face value, fans must win a monthly lottery. For a fraction of the price and not much longer drive time than a post-game Browns traffic jam, a fan can see close to NBA-level talent.
With only 20 rows of seats in the arena, there is not much of a difference between a $7 and $25 seat, especially if you can sit close to one of the optimal viewing sections. Unless the attendance is full, the $7 seat will afford you the ability to roam around the arena and catch different views. The VIP court seats are a worthwhile investment if only to cross off the 'sit on the floor' experience of the sports bucket list.
Charge home games cater to family fun with almost exclusive weekend dates. Season ticket membership brings the range of ticket prices down to $5 for the baseline sections up to only $19 to sit courtside. Promotions run every home game and include theme nights, dollar dogs, post-game autographs, and giveaways.
The Canton Charge deservedly earn extra points for maximizing their relationship with the Cavaliers and making a 'fan-centric' first-class experience. The organization invested time and money into transforming the Canton Memorial Civic Center, a facility built in 1951, combining the modern amenities of Quicken Loans Arena with the pure basketball background and aesthetics not seen since the days of the Kentucky Colonels and Spirit of Saint Louis in the days of the ABA.
The Charge also earns additional points for the extensive concession options, free roster cards/programs (most of these players make you ask 'who is that guy'), and free kid's club activities. The team shop is reasonably priced with t-shirts under $20 and hoodies starting around $30. Officially licensed Cavaliers items are also available for fans who cannot get to a game in Cleveland.
The kids area is between the concourse and court under sections 8-10 and feature face painting, 'pop a shot,' sign making, and 'NBA Tall and Short' picture opportunities with murals of with LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Mike Miller.
NBA D-League games are 'televised' live on YouTube and through the NBA D-League Center Court app. The live game information and stats on the app make it a good companion when attending games. An interesting note on the NBA D-League is the adoption of advertisements on their uniforms.
Dan Gilbert and his team, owners of the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL), Cleveland Gladiators (Arena Football), and of course, the Cleveland Cavaliers, do it again with the Canton Charge. The intimacy, value, and fun experienced at a Canton Charge game stands up to similar visits made to some NBA venues. Attending a game is required for any basketball fan or sports aficionado looking for a unique night out.
While the '2012-13 NBA D-League East Division Champion' banner flies high overhead, one can see an investment to the Charge (and Cavaliers to a lesser point) brand was made with logos and color scheme all over the facility. Add the low price of admission to the variety of concession options, dedicated team shop, activities for the kids, and historical facility, you get a first class experience.
When it comes to sports, Canton, Ohio, is most known for being the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the area’s rich high school football history. But there is another game in town that has fans inside of an arena instead of a stadium. In 2011, the Cleveland Cavaliers bought an NBDL franchise and moved the team from New Mexico to Canton. That team would become the Charge and the old Civic Center became home. The Canton Memorial Civic Center was built in 1951, and retains most of those inaugural characteristics, serving as a multi-functional venue for decades. Though the building isn’t exactly inviting or even old-school charming, the Charge have done enough here to make for a great spot to host a D-League franchise.
204 12th St NW
Canton, OH 44641
137 Court Ave SW
Canton, OH 44702
228 4th St NW
Canton, OH 44702
2121 George Halas Dr NW
Canton, OH 44708
800 McKinley Monument Dr NW
Canton, OH 44708
331 Market Ave S
Canton, OH 44702
104 6th St SW
Canton, OH 44702
There are no local lodging entries. Help us build with your expertise!