Built in 1988 with the capacity to hold 10,347 people, the Ferrell Center has been the home of Baylor Basketball for over 20 years now. Once you walk into the gold dome you will notice wide concourses making for easy access around the arena. Inside the arena you will find 41 rows of comfortable seat back chairs that make for a great view of the court no matter where your seats are located. Above the court and at the corners of the arena are scoring/video boards which allow for replay, graphics and other video capabilities to enhance the event atmosphere in the arena.
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 Ferrell Center definitely isn't short on stadium food options. Ferrell Center offers everything from your basic peanuts, popcorn, cotton candy, nachos and assorted candy items as well as some name brand options like Pizza Hut pizza, Chick-fil-A sandwiches and milkshakes as well as a Bear Dog. The Bear Dog to me was kind of a disappointment, not being much more than your basic hot dog on a bun, maybe it's worth the extra dollar to spice it up with some chili and cheese. Some other interesting items Ferrell Center offers are corn dogs, funnel cakes, sausage wraps, and super pretzels all sold at pretty decent prices.
Since Dr. Pepper is one of the main sponsors of Baylor basketball you will see no Coke products here. Instead you will find Dr. Pepper, Diet Dr. Pepper, Big Red, 7 Up and RC Cola all offered for $3 for a 20 ounce cup. For all the souvenir cup collectors you can pay a dollar for a souvenir cup with ice.
I was pretty full from the Gut Pack that I had eaten earlier (and will mention later) so I only tried the Baylor Dog and was not totally impressed. Overall though there are plenty of options and the prices are pretty reasonable, but there was nothing offered that really piqued my interest.
Just like the majority of Big 12 basketball games I have attended, the Ferrell Center fails to disappoint when it comes to a great atmosphere. Baylor fans, coming off of their first elite eight apperance in sixty years back in 2010, are starting to feel the magic again. The game I attended the Baylor Bears were facing the conference perennial favorite Kansas Jayhawks, and the fans were there in abundance to make sure their Bears had a well-known home court advantage.
The Bears came up short in their efforts, but you would have never known it from the atmosphere. The Bear fans cheered on loudly for their team until the final second ticked away. From the player introductions to the Bear student sections on each side of the court, the crazy atmosphere can make for a miserable night for opposing teams. The Ferrell Center was definitely built to maximize noise, and the Bear fans use this to their decided advantage.
If you're down in Waco, you have absolutely got to eat at Vitek's Bar-B-Q. It may not be the healthiest place, but the Gut Pack is to die for. The Gut Pack is a Frito pie on steroids. It consists of Fritos, chopped beef, beans, sausage, and bread all topped with onions, pickles, jalapenos and cheese. This seemingly toxic combination is delicious. You can get a small version of this delicacy for $4.75 or if you've got the uber-appetite you can try the large for $7.50, but make sure to have the antacids handy. Vitek's also offers other mouth watering options like a variety of sliced meat sandwiches ranging from $2.95 to $3.95. Whole meats are also sold by the pound if you didn't quite get enough while you were there and need some for the road. Overall I can't say enough about Vitek's. The food and service are both top notch, the only downfall I noticed was the schedule is a little weird so make sure you check the site before making your trip.
Other options that some locals voiced their approval for were the Health Camp, which they say is a oxymoron, because they have some of the best fried food in Waco. Some others include Gratziano's and the Elite Circle Grill, which the locals said were more of a classy dining experience.
One place that I would advise any sports fan to stop before they leave Waco is the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. With four different sections focused on Texas sports, Tennis, high school football and Texas high school basketball.
Also if you're into law enforcement or law enforcement history you can find the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. The Texas Rangers are the oldest law enforcement agency in the state, and everything you could want to know about them can be found at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, located at 100 Texas Ranger Trail, in Waco. Visitors can view equipment used by the Texas Rangers, exhibits detailing their history, and even catch a glimpse of Bonnie and Clyde's shotguns.
Overall you shouldn't find it to hard to find something to do while visiting Waco.
Baylor fans are similar to some of the other ones you will find throughout the Big 12- downright crazy at times. Many Baylor fans were standing at the doors hours before gametime to ensure a good general admission seat. In standing outside the Ferrell Center you could see the anticipation in many of the fans' eyes hoping for the big upset and that they could spoil the the game for many of the opposing team's fans that had shown up. Looking around the arena prior to game time, the center was covered with green and gold apparel as well as a couple of fans dressed as bears. In the upper terrace I found a group of rowdy Baylor fans showing their team spirit with chests painted to say "I Love Baylor". The fans were vocal throughout the game, cheering and chanting during Baylor scoring runs and booing in disapproval of referee calls. Baylor fans definitely don't disappoint as they make sure their Bears have a strong home court advantage.
Access to the stadium isn't bad as long as you are getting there more than thirty minutes prior to tip time. Parking is free and is in abundance. I did find the parking spots a little small though. The concourses are all very wide and make walking around the stadium an breeze. Handicap access is a tad limited with only one entrance. Bathrooms I found to be plentiful and easily accessible even during peak times. The Ferrell Center may be nearly twenty-five years old but it sure doesn't show it when it comes to amenities.
With tickets ranging from $10-$25, you really can't beat the price. There are decent food prices and free parking so you really will see it is a bargain for a night out. With a great view from any seat in the arena, Ferrell Center will definitely not disappoint. The fans, atmosphere and building are all wonderful, and I would definitely pay even more for the experience. It's well worth it.
One extra point for the game I attended being the biggest crowd in Ferrell Center history.
Also a couple extra points for the student section and pep band as they kept the rest of the fans on their feet throughout the game.
Another extra point for Vitek's BAR-B-Q. I can't rave enough about this place, just thinking about it right now is making my mouth water.
The Baylor Bears Basketball team seems to be making a resurgence into the national picture and as they continue to do this I only see the trip to Waco, atmosphere and experience getting better and better.
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