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Official Review by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Donald W. Reynolds Center is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma on the campus of the University of Tulsa; the center is home to both the Tulsa Golden Hurricane's basketball and volleyball teams. The university's multi-purpose arena opened in December 1998, when the Tulsa men's basketball team defeated Cleveland State 79-51.
The Donald W. Reynolds Center is named for media entrepreneur Donald W. Reynolds, and there are many buildings throughout Oklahoma and Arkansas bearing his name. In fact, most college football fans will recognize the name, as the University of Arkansas' Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium is named in his honor.
The basketball arena has a capacity of 8,355 during games, but has also hosted numerous concerts. In addition, the facility has served as the host site for Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA basketball tournaments, as well as area high school basketball tournaments.
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".
There are plenty of concessions stands, and a few standalone food kiosks, around the concourse inside the Donald W. Reynolds Center. The food options are the basic stadium fare, but the prices are reasonable, for example $2 for candy or $7 for a choice of either the hamburger and fries basket or the chicken tender basket. Traditional options like pretzels, hot dogs, and bratwurst fall in the same price range at $4 each. There is also a combo meal available which has a hot dog, popcorn, and a drink; the prices for this combo are based on the size of drink ($10 with the 20oz cup or $12 with the larger 44oz size). Buying these items in a combo saves fans $2.
Soda choices inside the Donald W. Reynolds Center include Pepsi products, with fountain drinks ranging from $4 for 20oz to $6 for 44oz; refills are $3. Non-soda options include water or Crush for $3, or Rock Star and Gatorade for $4; all of these beverages are available throughout the arena at either the regular stands or the kiosks.
The 2016-17 season began the sale of alcohol inside the Donald W. Reynolds Center. Although there are limited choices of Bud products, the cost is respectable at $5, and there is the local brand Coop as well for $6. Lines move quickly during halftime, and the stands are adequately placed throughout the arena.
The most unique food option available isn't at the regular concessions stands, but at a side vendor called Siegi's Sausage Factory, serving up a variety of sausages and barbecue sandwiches. The cost is either $6 or $7 depending on what brat or barbecue sandwich you decide to buy.
The atmosphere at the Donald W. Reynolds Center is typical of college basketball, with a decent amount of sponsor games, such as a blindfolded person walking around the court to find the mascot. The lack of fan attendance doesn't necessarily mean lack of entertainment, as the game day productions and the fans that are in the arena do a good job of entertaining during timeouts and halftime. The spirit squad, band, and Tulsa's mascot also keep the crowd from becoming dormant.
Seating at the Donald W. Reynolds Center is bowl-shaped with two levels. The bottom level is a complete circle of seats, while the top level is more of a horseshoe, with one end taken up by the Presidential Suite, taking the place of the typical suites seen at other arenas. On the opposite side from the Presidential Suite is a small plaza at the main entrance, which has a concessions stand and a statue of Donald W. Reynolds, positioned so that he appears to be looking out over the court. The arena also has an updated video screen hanging above the court, as well as a video screen in front of the scorer's table between the two teams' benches, which provides various stats for each team throughout the game.
The acoustics of the arena really enhance the atmosphere, making the cheering seem louder compared to other arenas, than the noise the fans are actually making. Overall, the venue provides a pleasant atmosphere for a college basketball game.
How good the neighborhood is depends on how far from the Donald W. Reynolds Center you are willing to travel. The University of Tulsa's campus is used for education and not for entertaining fans, so the surrounding area is definitely on the low end of the spectrum. There isn't anything but your average fast food restaurant near the arena, although a trip to Coney I-Lander for a hot dog is worth the visit. However, there are plenty of good restaurants and lodging within a 4-mile drive (toward downtown Tulsa).
The are several good restaurants near Tulsa's ONEOK Ballpark, home of the Double-A Tulsa Drillers baseball team. The Rusty Crane or Caz's Chowhouse are worth a look, and there are also attractions to visit while in Tulsa, such as the Jazz Hall of Fame, Greenwood Cultural Center, Mabel B. Little Heritage House, and Tulsa Zoo. As for lodging there is the Aloft Tulsa Downtown, Doubletree by Hilton, or the Fairfield Inn & Suites Tulsa Downtown.
College basketball's best fans usually come to life in the student body; the student body at Tulsa is known as "The Storm," and their section can be quite entertaining. However, the rest of the fan base is difficult to judge, as the crowds don't get near capacity. The arena does fill up when in-state rival Oklahoma State travels to Tulsa, but otherwise the center is only about half filled with supporters of the Golden Hurricane.
The average attendance for Tulsa basketball games seems to fall around 4,000 per game. There are great acoustics inside the Donald W. Reynolds Center, which amplifies the noise, so at times the fans that are in the building can become loud quickly, especially when the game is on the line.
The Donald W. Reynolds Center is on campus, and adjacent to the school's football field, H.A. Chapman Stadium. The physical address of the basketball arena is 3208 East 8th Street, which is important because the parking around the facility is terrible, so plan ahead, scout out the area. There aren't any parking lots within decent walking distance that are open for games, so unless you are taking public transportation to the campus, parking will be on neighborhood side streets, so plan to get there early. On the plus side, attending a basketball game at the Donald W. Reynolds Center is made a little easier because of the small crowd; this fact makes parking a little easier compared to football games.
Once you get to the arena, however, the walkways up to the entrances and inside the concourse are very spacious and accommodating for fans. The main entrance to the Donald W. Reynolds Center opens onto Chapman Plaza, and inside the arena there is plenty of signage showing where the concessions and restrooms are, and showing you how to get to your seat. The seats themselves are also roomy and very comfortable.
Tulsa Basketball tickets range from $5 dollars in the upper corner to $44 dollars for mid-court seats. There isn't a bad seat in the Donald W. Reynolds Center, so buying a cheap ticket will surely increase the return on investment to watch NCAA Division 1 basketball, without the high cost of a larger power program such as North Carolina or American Athletic Conference rival SMU. Furthermore, the free parking and relatively low concessions, and the quality of Division 1 college basketball, gives an above average return on investment for the entertainment experience here.
Tulsa basketball participates in NCAA Division 1 basketball as a member of the American Athletic Conference, with a comfortable arena and the potential to have an exciting atmosphere if the basketball program starts a winning tradition.
Tulsa, Oklahoma is probably not a location that any sports fan has on their bucket list for any sport. However, the University of Tulsa's Donald W. Reynolds Center is a well-kept arena with great sight lines and a friendly atmosphere. Any sports fan that happens to be visiting Tulsa, for example the visiting team's fans, will find their visit to this arena a very enjoyable experience.
Member Review by BradleeRoss
The Donald W. Reynolds Center is home to the University of Tulsa's Golden Hurricane basketball and volleyball teams in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The multi-purpose arena is 138,000 square feet and was first built in 1998. The 8,355-seat capacity of the arena makes it the sixth-largest basketball arena in Conference USA.
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