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Official Review by Matthew Irby, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
College Park Center is the new home for the University of Texas – Arlington Mavericks. This state-of-the-art facility opened February 1st, 2012 and is a HUGE upgrade for the teams, fans, and campus over their previous home court in Texas Hall. This 218,000-square-foot facility cost right around $78 million according to the school, but after visiting, it was clearly money well spent.
Arlington is best known for the old school, brick-style look of the Ballpark in Arlington and the billion dollar spaceship looking Cowboys Stadium, and now has another facility that should attract large crowds to the 7,000 capacity limit of College Park Center on the campus of UT-Arlington.
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 get an upgrade on a facility, though it's not vitally important, having accessibility and a full-range of concession selections is important. College Park Center delivers there as well. Staples like nachos (they were very good), popcorn, hot dogs, pizza, soda and water can be found at all four permanent concession stands and at various portable stands.
I was impressed to find that both credit cards and cash are accepted at the permanent stands, cash only at the portable stands. However, what notched this up to 4 stars was the affordable price for a family of 4 (approx. $20, unless your kids are garbage disposals).
The Mavericks for the first time in their schools' history have an actual arena or events center to call their own. And they didn't go from the look of a high school gym to the look of other Southland Conference facilities. Nope, they splurged and went big. Walking into College Park Center I had the feel of walking into a Big XII or SEC type facility.
During the game, the crowd for the most part was involved and paying attention as their Mavericks are the 2011-12 Southland Conference regular season champions.
College Park District is the 20-acre development that is turning UT-Arlington from a college in the middle of a major metroplex area, into the look and feel of a true college town. The beauty so far is the College Park Center, but surrounding the facility are many other amenities that have been completed, are under construction, or are at least in the planning stage of development. In the end, the College Park District will not only house the Center, but a 4+ acre "mixed-use" landscape known as Green at College Park, a new residence hall, campus apartments, University welcome center, parking garage, and various shops and restaurants.
Also contributing to this is that just barely over a mile away is the heart of Arlington entertainment. The home of the Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Cowboys Stadium, Six Flags, and Hurricane Harbor, are all "Musts" when visiting the DFW Metroplex. Need a place to eat before to after? I highly recommend Babe's Chicken Dinner House (just North of campus), Sherlock's Baker Street Pub or Trail Dust Steak House.
The fans at College Park Center were typical student fans at a winning program. The students I spoke to knew their star players and were very passionate about the referees need for a vision check-up. But, in general, it lacked the same goosebump-feeling that is synonymous with college basketball. With that said, the fans were loud and passionate, and I got the feeling that Mavericks basketball in Arlington is catching on.
It is almost always hard to do well with access and travel when dealing with a campus in a large city, which sits in between Dallas and Fort Worth. Not to mention having the center in the middle of the college campus, this poses an obvious problem for anyone traveling to a game at a school with over 30,000 students. However, getting to the game wasn't terrible at all, just plan accordingly. And once there, the campus and facility has the proper signs to get a fan to the game and into their seats.
Since opening the new facility there were four home games to finish out the year and attendance was FREE! That's right; the school did not charge a dime to anyone for the final four home games. This was both a wonderful surprise when I arrived, and a great marketing strategy. What better way to show off your new gem, than to make it available to anyone.
I spoke with the ticket office and they were unable to quote me ticket prices for next season, but did let me know that student admission into the bleachers will remain free; students just simply need to show their school ID.
College Park Center gets the first additional point for not only being a facility that houses the men's and women's basketball teams as well as the women's volleyball team, but being a facility for many other special events. ESPN already had a boxing event, Friday Night Fights at the facility on February 17th, 2012.
The second additional point goes to the school itself. Anyone who watched games at Texas Hall and now at the new College Park Center understands that the school needed this upgrade. Students, fans, alumni, and even locals now have a facility that they can take serious pride in, as this facility is a beautiful addition to this large campus.
The third and final free point goes to both the men's and women's basketball teams. The facility opened on February 1st and to celebrate it both teams pulled off victories over UT-San Antonio. I can't think of a better way to cut the tape.
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230 N Center St
Arlington, TX 76011
254 Lincoln Sq
Arlington, TX 76011
2201 Road to Six Flags
Arlington, TX 76010
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