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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
When Florida State University was invited to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, it was widely seen as an attempt to add to the football prestige of what was then known as a “basketball conference.” Obviously, this has worked out well for the conference, with several members of the conference participating in and winning National Championships. What was not foreseen was that FSU would become a basketball power within the ACC. The Seminoles have participated in 14 NCAA Tournaments, 14 NIT Tournaments, and have the third winningest team in the ACC over the last ten years, trailing only Duke University and the University of North Carolina. Although not as well-known as Coach K, Dean Smith or Roy Williams, the ‘Noles have had some great coaches of their own in Hugh Durham and Leonard Hamilton. FSU has also produced several NBA players, including Dave Cowens, Sam Cassell and Charlie Ward, a two-sport star who also won the Heisman Trophy.
The home court for FSU is the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee. This 12,500-seat arena was built in 1981, and underwent massive renovations in 2014 when the university took over operations of the facility from the city of Tallahassee and Leon County. Among the improvements made by the university were the reupholstering of all arena seats, adding both a new HD scoreboard and a 360-degree ribbon board and placement of four LED video panels in each corner of the arena. The Tucker Center also features 34 corporate suites and 468 club seats, and has the largest capacity of any arena on the Florida Panhandle.
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 Tucker Center offers a wide variety of options in the concessions area. In addition to the generic stands offering the typical stadium/arena fare, the facility offers specific food items at the Osceola Grill, Meet Me at the BBQ, and Capitol Classics. Craft beers are available from the Lagunitas and Lake Tribe concession stand. The Spotlight Grill on the Club level offers serving stations, such as the Capital Carvery, the Seminole Sautee and Kenny's Krazy Wings. The Grill offers a bird's-eye view of the arena action while you eat.
A sampling of the foods available at the Tucker Center includes beef brisket ($9), barbecue ribs ($9), pizza ($8), hamburgers ($6), nachos ($6), hot dogs ($5), pretzels ($4), popcorn ($4.50), and chips ($2). One item not often found in basketball arenas: crepes. La Creperie offers a wide selection of flavors at $9.
Drinks are Coca-Cola products and sell for $4, while bottled water is $3. Adult drinks are available at the Tucker Center, as well. Beer is available at the Craft Corner for $8, premium mixed drinks are $9 and mixed drinks are $8. Wine is available for $7.
Since taking over the management of the Tucker Center from the City of Tallahassee and Leon County, FSU has done a masterful job of making the arena feel very much a part of the college experience. This begins outside the arena, where a large Seminole spear accompanies the marquee. Once inside, you will notice the FSU brand in the concourses, where the trim work at the top of the walls features Seminole graphics. Inside the arena seating area, you will notice the continued branding of the facility on the scoreboard and on the matrix boards in each of the four corners of the arena.
As game time nears, the spirit teams of FSU combine to create an electric atmosphere to the arena. These groups include the cheerleaders, the Golden Girls Dance Squad, an all-male Hype Squad and the very talented FSU pep band.
The arena is filled with the garnet and gold colors of FSU, and the sheer number of fans and the noise they generate can be disconcerting to visiting squads.
The Tucker Center is centrally located in downtown Tallahassee, just two blocks from the Florida State Capitol complex. The arena is also just five blocks from Doak Campbell Stadium. Because of its proximity to both the university and the state's governmental buildings, the Tucker Center is close to numerous dining establishments and lodging options. Among the restaurants within walking distance of the arena are Tequila Tribe, Brick Haus Pizza, Voodoo Dog, the Andrews Capital Grill and Madison Social.
Lodging choices include the Residence Inn Tallahassee, Aloft Tallahassee Downtown, the Courtyard Marriott and Comfort Suites. The area's major shopping mall, Governor's Square Mall, is just four miles from the Tucker Center.
Another component of the neighborhood adjacent to Tucker Center is the Cascades Park and Amphitheatre. This 24-acre linear greenspace area serves to tie together the two campuses of FSU and Florida A&M University. Included in the park area are swimming facilities, a 2,000-seat amphitheater for concerts, hiking and biking trails and some popular informal restaurants.
Also nearby is the Railroads Art District, a popular collection of various eclectic art galleries. It is also home to the very popular Proof Brewery, the closest brewery to FSU's campus.
The Tomahawk Chop and the Seminole War Chant have been mainstays of the FSU fan base for many years. Anyone who has heard 60,000 fans taking part in this cheer can testify that it has a disconcerting effect on the visiting team. Now transfer that same chant and chop inside an arena of 12,000 people, and it can be even more disconcerting to the visitors and can disrupt their communications.
The recent uptick in FSU's basketball fortunes in competing on an annual basis with the Big 3 in the ACC (Duke, UNC and Notre Dame) has resulted in a large increase in season ticket sales. Of course, the primary base is the students and alumni of FSU. However, the community of Tallahassee has also adopted them as its own. Tallahassee is more than three hours from the nearest professional franchise in Jacksonville, so between January and March, the Seminole roundballers are the biggest show in town.
Tucker Center is located in downtown Tallahassee, between FSU and the State Capitol complex. A majority of students walk to the games from the campus, as the arena is only blocks from both Greek Row and most of the campus dorms. The streets surrounding the Tucker Center (West Pensacola Street, West Gaines Street, South Macomb) are main thoroughfares, and they both lead to a massive parking deck next to the Tucker Center. There are multiple entry points into the arena, so there are no logjams getting around the facility. About 75 percent of the arena seating is below the concourse level, and legroom and width of the seats is excellent.
If you are coming in from out of town, the Tucker Center is less than six miles from the Tallahassee Regional Airport. It is located 10 miles south of I-10, the major east/west artery along the Florida Panhandle.
Tickets are available in the $25-$50 range, which is low for an ACC school. Parking is available across the street from the Tucker Center for $8. The concession offerings are broad and of high quality for a college arena. The return on investment for a visit to the Tucker Center is very good, as the 'Noles are quite competitive in games against Duke, UNC and other ACC elites.
Due to its large seating capacity and close proximity to the university, the Tucker Center is the major concert venue in Tallahassee. Among the artists who have performed at the center are Prince, Elton John, Drake, Jimmy Buffett, Florida-Georgia Line, Aerosmith and the Zac Brown Band.
The Seminole Sports Shop offers a wide variety of Seminoles spirit items in two locations within the Tucker Center.
Being located in a capital city, FSU is able to enjoy many extra amenities not often found in college towns. It has easy access to many cultural facilities such as museums, concert halls and national speakers. Tallahassee's shopping and dining facilities are much broader than many other like-sized cities.
The close proximity to state government makes it easy for FSU students to obtain internships and other vocational opportunities that may be more difficult in other more remote Florida college campuses.
Member Review by Nathan on Mar 10, 2012
Florida State basketball may be under the shadow of the football program, but that doesn’t mean the Seminoles haven’t had success on the hardwood. In their history, Florida State has reached the National Championship Game once, the Elite Eight twice and the Sweet Sixteen four times.
The Seminoles play their home games at Donald L. Tucker Center, also known as the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. This 12,100-seat multi-purpose arena has also been the home of Arena Football League teams and has featured many concerts. This arena is not on campus, but it is very close to the Florida State campus.
Member Review by Sri on Mar 26, 2013
Awesome nickname and slogan aside, this place is terrible for college basketball. But they sell beer. For a college basketball venue that hosts Broadway and gun shows, the TLC Double C isn't terrible. And they sell beer. I don't see Cameron Indoor, The Palestra or The Pit hosting any monster truck rallies. The Civic Center has utility. Like an abandoned shed housing a family of hobos. A place that probably has beer, albeit less expensive.
The "Tucker Center," as the government insists it be called, is in desperate need for a renovation to accommodate college basketball. The seats, especially the student sections, are too far from the court to foster a real home environment. The seats are colored randomly and reminiscent of vomit from a dog who ate an assortment of crayons. This may explain why the place is so poorly lit. On a more positive note, The Seminole head at center court is bigger than it used to be. Did I mention the sale of overpriced beer?
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