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Official Review by Brandon Gee, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
For an arena built in 1968, the Ohio University Convocation Center is a rather decent place to watch basketball. Renovations throughout the years have kept "The Convo" on par with Ohio’s competition and helped maintain a strong home atmosphere. It’s rare these days that arenas & stadiums are able to last over 40 years but the location of the Convocation Center is wonderful. There are definitely some cosmetic improvements that need to happen (e.g., some busted plastic chairbacks scattered throughout). I hope that the university goes further to renovate the arena and improve the game-watching 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".
I gave the Convocation Center three stars only because the prices were decent. However, the food was not. The usual suspects are represented with hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, etc., but the hot dog ($3) had an "off" taste. My friend said that it tasted like there was cheese on it. Um, there was no cheese present. Kind of weird, and no, we didn't get sick.
To be fair, though I didn't try it. There was a sausage stand that filled the concourse with a fantastic smell, and wasn't too expensive, for arena food.
Now keep in mind it was a dreary, rainy afternoon on the day of the game I attended, but the attendance was a disappointment, about 7,500. The school was smart to rope off the top half of the upper deck and try to keep the fans closer together. I sat in the upper deck and it's a great view no matter where you are. Also, there is a pretty relaxed atmosphere up there if you’re not in the mood to stand and scream, and would rather just sit back and watch.
A couple bright spots were that the school puts its student section and band courtside, not in the end zones. The students were standing the whole time, chanting and yelling, really trying to create a hostile environment for the opposition. The pep band was great as well.
Within the immediate area surrounding the Convocation Center are the other sports facilities (including Peden Stadium), Campus Recreation Center and running trail. The trail runs along the campus’ border, the Hocking River. The facilities all sit in the old flood plain of the river, and it’s a nice change of pace to walk to an arena surrounded by lush grass, as opposed to concrete and parking lots. This makes for a really calm, picturesque environment to walk around in before and after the game. The campus is built in and around the hills and valleys, so there are a lot of bridges crossing from place to place, making for some great views of the campus architecture. The town of Athens is just up the road on the other side of the university, with all the restaurants, bars, and quirky shops college towns are usually known for.
Now while the game I attended wasn't that lively, looking back over Ohio’s attendance I saw a lot of sellout crowds, so I’m assuming my visit was the outlier. The fans, especially the students were into the game the whole time, and were knowledgeable about their opponents. It’s always interesting and fun to see a crowd tailor its taunts to an opponent.
Athens sits right on the Appalachian Highway, so with one exit onto 682, a turn at the first right, and you enter the Ohio campus right between the Convocation Center and Peden Stadium where the football team plays. Parking was close by and since it was a light crowd, it was a painless process.
Tickets for most seats are just $15, sight lines are good considering the place was built in 1968 and serves many other uses than just a basketball arena. I’d probably avoid the food next time (maybe check out some of the places i mentioned under the ‘Food & Drink’ tab). Ohio plays in the Mid-American Conference and has some strong rivalries which can help add to the atmosphere.
The beautiful area the surrounds the Ohio University campus, a great place to just walk around and is worth an extra point.
The student section being at courtside is wonderful. I hate to see the students get stuck in the nosebleeds, and they are put in a great position to be a factor in the games here at the Convocation Center.
The additions of the Ohio Trainers Hall of Fame and the Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame on the arena concourse are worth a final extra point.
Member Review by jbarrett107108 on Apr 10, 2012
The best place to watch a basketball game in the MAC and Top 3 in the State. Attended all home games this year with the Miami game being the best. (1380 attendees). Just an awesome place for basketball.
18 North Court Street
Athens, OH 45701
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