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Official Review by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
College Park Center, or simply the CPC, is a multi-use venue on the campus of the University of Texas-Arlington. College Park Center is a $78 million, 218,000 square-foot facility which opened on February 1, 2012 as the university's new athletic facility for the UTA Mavericks basketball and volleyball programs. The first event held in College Park Center was a doubleheader of the UTA men’s and women’s basketball programs.
The College Park Center has a capacity of 7,000 people for an event. It has been a wonderful addition, not only to the university, but the community. Many concerts and high school graduations frequently visit College Park Center. However, the biggest addition might be the newest team to call the CPC home, the Dallas Wings.
The WNBA’s 20th Anniversary is also the Dallas Wings inaugural season, after previously playing as the Tulsa Shock at BOK Center. Tulsa was awarded a team in 2010, when the team moved to Tulsa from Detroit. The Detroit Shock were one of the original expansion teams of the WNBA in 1998. The organization does possess three WNBA Championships, all achieved while in Detroit. The Dallas Wings are one of the few WNBA franchises that do not share a venue with the city's 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 recent trend of providing over the top culinary masterpieces in stadiums and arenas doesn't apply to the College Park Center. However, the concessions inside CPC do provide adequate options for food and beverage choices, while attending a Dallas Wings game.
There are the basic stadium/arena fare including hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, and pretzels. Snickers ice cream, and churros are available to satisfy your sweet tooth. There is a $3-$5 price range for these items.
For the people that enjoy combos meals, there are two combo baskets for $10 with the choice of either a burger or chicken basket. The healthy food option, called the Baylor Healthy Menu, consists of a Caesar Chicken Salad for $5, and a fruit cup or snack cup priced at $3 each.
The one concession stand that offers a little more than the basic stadium menu is Ted E's Kitchen. Ted E's Kitchen provides the local flavor of Tex-Mex food. Plates cost $9-$10, with the options of brisket, pulled pork, or ground beef nachos, grilled chicken wrap, taco burger wrap, bbq brisket, and various quesadillas.
The CPC serves Pepsi products. A small soda or Gatorade costs $4, while a large Pepsi product will cost a dollar more. Alcoholic beverages are sold inside the arena. Beer products are primarily from the Budweiser brand. Bud, Bud Light, and Michelob Ultra cost $7, while Texas owned Ziegenbock and Stella Artois cost $8. Wine is offered as well for $7. You can also find margaritas, pina coladas or daiquiris at the Maui Wowi stand. The prices range from $9 for a small to $14 dollars for a large.
Around the concourse there are a few more food and beverage choices like the $6 roasted pecans and almonds, and Dippin Dots ($5-$7).
The College Park Center helps to create a wonderful atmosphere. Unlike the WNBA teams that play in the larger NBA arenas such as Madison Square Garden or the AT&T Center, the CPC is the perfect size for a WNBA game.
The venue brings you close to the game without any bad seats and keeps the noise level high, whereas the larger WNBA arenas can sometimes feel too empty to create a good atmosphere. The in-game entertainment is conducted by DJ Poizon Ivy, keeping all the fans entertained during timeouts as well as during the game.
The Wings have dance group called Flight Crew. The Flight Crew is a co-ed dance team that performs during time outs. The Flight Crew also helps with contests during time outs.
The Wings fans begin both halves by standing until their team scores for the first time. This is a good way to start providing energy around the arena. The WNBA game brings many female fans into the arena, especially young women and girls. The Wings do a good job in promoting their largest fan base throughout the game. Although, the majority of the fans are female, the atmosphere is no less than a NBA game, so the gender of the game really doesn't change the quality of basketball being played on the court.
College Park Center is part of the College Park District, a 20-acre development plan to change UT-Arlington from a commuter school to more of a traditional college campus. The College Park District provides the university, as well as the surrounding neighborhood, with a residence hall, campus apartments, university welcome center, parking garage, and various shops and restaurants. The restaurants (such as Texadelphia, Pie Five Pizza, and Bombay Chopstix) are close enough so you may park your car and have a pre game or post game meal. You can visit the College Park District website for more information.
If none of those seem to interest you, then just a mile away on the north side of the campus, in downtown Arlington, there are more eateries such as Babe's Chicken Dinner House, J Gilligan's Bar and Grill, Twisted Root Beer Company, and Grease Monkey Burger Shop. Just a short drive away is the heart of Arlington entertainment. Globe Life Park, AT&T Stadium, Six Flags Over Texas, and Hurricane Harbor are all wonderful places to visit while in Arlington.
The interest in a WNBA team coming to Arlington was high, especially with a team that has an instant public relations star in Skylar Higgins. The fans seem to have caught on with attendances averaging about 5,000 a game in the team's inaugural season. The fans are dedicated, loud, and overall just a fun group to be around. The majority of the fans are women, with a majority of them being young girls. There is a lot of high pitched cheering during the game. The Wings have immediately developed a group of diehard fans for their first season, now it is up to the team performance to continue to keep the fans coming back again.
Access to the University of Texas-Arlington is pretty easy as the campus is between two major interstates, I-20 and I-30. The campus is just a few miles from major sports landmarks of AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park. There is plenty of signage to the campus and College Park Center.
The arena is built between two one-way streets, with parking garages on the north side of the center. The parking garage is very close, and costs $10. Any free or cheaper parking is tough to find in that particular area as campus lots require permits. The parking garage is really your only option when it comes to parking. The garage has plenty of room, even on ground level, and is just a short walk to the CPC.
The CPC has four entrances that provide smooth and easy access into the arena. College Park Center enforces the recently popular clear bag policy for security measures along with metal detectors. The concourses are well lit, with plenty of signage to locate sections, restrooms, concessions, fan relations, and souvenir stands.
There are three types of seating around the basketball court. One type is the bleachers on one of the baselines, the other is cushioned leather seats in the first two rows around the court, and the rest have the hard blue stadium seats. All the seating, except bleachers, have cup holders. The CPC is set up nicely. There isn't a bad seat to view the game.
The Dallas Wings ticket prices range from $15-$50 depending on the area of seating. Ticket prices are for advance sales. The good old days of just walking up on game day is discouraged because of additional cost of $5 per ticket. The best deal is to purchase the $15 ticket in advance as the upper seating provides a good view of the action on the court. However, adding the parking price of $10 lowers the overall return on the investment. There isn't much option when it comes to parking with the lots and the lack of public transportation in and around Arlington.
College Park Center is a perfect venue to host the Dallas Wings. The intimate feel gives a great view of the game from any seat in the arena. The game atmosphere in Arlington carries a higher rating than the team's predecessor in Tulsa.
The Dallas/Fort Worth area, and especially Arlington, have really seemed to accept the new kid on the block. WNBA fans have a wonderful new destination to visit, while supporting their team, with plenty of summer entertainment in Arlington. Overall, a visit to the College Park Center to watch a Dallas Wings game is a great way to cool off from the hot Texas summer and watch some entertaining basketball.
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445 Spaniolo Dr
Arlington, TX 76010
2201 Road to Six Flags St
Arlington, TX 76011
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