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Official Review by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Crown Coliseum is a multi-purpose venue in Fayetteville that serves as the home of the Fayetteville FireAntz (minor league hockey) and the Cape Fear Heroes (indoor football, currently part of the X-League), as well as concerts and various other events. The venue opened in 1997, and has been home to a number of sports teams since it opened. The coliseum is part of the Crown Complex, which includes the coliseum, an expo center, a theater, an arena, and a ballroom. The complex hosts all sorts of events, including conferences, the Cumberland County Fair, and even basketball games and roller derby matches.
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The venue offers plenty of food and beverage options, including smoothies, pizza, burgers, and barbecue. While not all of the stands are open during football games, there are still more than enough choices. Prices are a little on the high side, which is to be expected from a "professional venue" - hot dogs are $3.75, pizza is $6, barbecue starts at $7.50, burgers start at $8, and chicken tenders are $8.50. Chips, candy, and shaved ice cost between $3 and $4, while fries, pretzels, nachos, and Cracker Jack are a little more. You can find bottled water, tea, coffee, and hot cocoa for about $3, soda and Gatorade for around $4, smoothies for $5, and beer starting at $8. For those with a sweet tooth, Bavarian nuts are $5 and fresh-made donuts are $6.
Crown Coliseum is a good looking venue with wide concourses and comfortable seats. The sightlines are good, and it is lot of fun to watch indoor football here, listening to the cheers from the crowd and seeing the balls bounce off the walls. For indoor football they block off a lot of the seats, with tarps on one side and a screen hanging down on the other. The majority of seats are bucket-style hard plastic, except for the center sections which have more comfortable plastic cushions, and the first few rows which have foam-filled fabric cushions like you might find at a movie theater. The plastic seats have an interesting aesthetic - most are blue, but you will also find a smattering of red, beige, black, and yellow ones scattered arbitrarily around. I am not sure whether this was by design, or if they have just replaced the original blue ones over time as they wore out. There are a couple of other design issues, as well; for example, the poorly painted-over end zones that still sport the name of a different team.
The biggest downside to seeing an indoor football game here is that, despite the Heroes' success since their founding in 2012 (including three championship appearances), they do not draw a very large crowd, averaging only around 4,000 at a typical game, and sometimes much less, depending on the weather. They also do not let you keep balls that go into the stands, unlike other indoor football venues.
Crown Coliseum is located in a pretty empty section of town, not far from the regional airport. There are some residential streets, as well as some businesses, but also a lot of empty fields, plus a park and a river. There are a couple of restaurants nearby, including the Doghouse Bar & Grill on Owen Drive, which features several different bar areas, a stage for live music, and a full-service restaurant. Thursdays are the best night to go, with $1 domestics and shots. There is also a Ruby Tuesday further away if you are looking for something more traditional - otherwise, the only close options are fast food.
There are several hotels near the coliseum if you are looking to stay the weekend, and Fayetteville offers a number of fun attractions if you have time before or after the game, including the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, the 82nd Airborne War Memorial, zip lining, the Fayetteville Transportation Museum, as well as several options for kids, including a children's museum and Monkey Joe's, a play place featuring inflatables. There are also numerous activities that take place at the Crown Coliseum besides indoor football; Fayetteville is also home to Fort Bragg.
Heroes gear is sold at the coliseum, but the prices are a little on the steep side, so not many of the fans wear gear. There is a decent amount of crowd noise, though, especially for night games when the weather outside isn't competing with the on-field action. The fans also seem very intent on the game, and rarely visit the concession stands except during a break in the action - the concourse is pretty much deserted when the clock is running.
Fayetteville is very easy to find, and the coliseum is only a few miles off the freeway, so the venue is easy to get to. There is a large parking lot right next to it, and parking is free. There are more than enough bathrooms to accommodate the smallish crowd (recall that some of the seats are blocked off for football, so even a Heroes sellout would not strain the full capacity of the stadium). The concourse is very wide, so getting around before or after the game, or during half-time, isn't a problem, and there are plenty of doors into and out of the building.
Tickets to Heroes games cost $15 for regular admission and $10 for those with a military ID. Parking is free, so an individual going to a game is a pretty good deal, but if you have a large group it might be a little on the steep side, since concessions are also on the high side. Indoor football is a lot of fun, though, especially if you are a true football fan and need to get your fix during the NFL or college off-season, and the Cape Fear Heroes have lately turned out a really good product. All in all, this is a pretty good value if you have a military id; if not, you might find it a little steep.
One point for the Crown Complex - having all the other activities attached to the same venue might make it easier to plan a trip here, since there is lot you can do right here (depending on schedules).
A second point for the well-lit venue; the coliseum features lots of picture windows, which give the concourse a wide-open feel, and lots of natural light as you explore the complex.
A third point for the Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame, which is located inside the coliseum. It is great to see local athletes recognized here, including high school players, as well as more seasoned professionals.
Crown Coliseum is a nicely appointed venue, even if you want to visit for something other than football. Despite being almost 20 years old, it was well thought out, with lots of natural light and a wide concourse that makes it easy to get around. The Cape Fear Heroes are worth seeing with their solid on-field performance, and there is plenty to do in Fayetteville if you just come for the day, or if you want to stay the weekend.
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3049 Owen Dr
Fayetteville, NC 28306
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