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Official Review by Paul Derrick, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Nestled away in North Louisiana between Shreveport and Monroe on I-20, you will find the the town of Grambling, home of the Grambling State Tigers. Grambling State is an all black school known more for its impressive drumline and old school Eddie Robinson football than for its basketball program. The Grambling State Tigers call the 7,500 seat, newly named Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center home. Opened in 2007 the new arena has many of the perks of a great arena, but it may be just a little too much for Grambling State basketball.
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I can't really rate this since the game I attended the concession stands were not open because the campus was closed due to inclement weather. I was told by a member of the stadium staff that they do offer affordable snacks at reasonable prices so I'll award one point.
With a lower concourse filled with backed seats and an upper concourse of bleacher seats, I never could seem to find a comfortable place to sit. The bleacher seats are a little too uncomfortable and the backed seats are a tad too close to enjoy any kind of leg room. The atmosphere definitely wasn't one of the rowdiest, but the loyal fans still made sure you knew they were there. The PA system and the announcer were great. The announcer made sure to get the fans going and on their feet at the most important times. Unfortunately, there was no pep band which was highly disappointing, especially with the high reputation the band has. I did expect a more rowdy atmosphere since SWAC sports are known for great rivalries, and the Tigers were playing Alcorn State but in this game the atmosphere definitely fell short of my expectations.
Grambling is a pretty small college town (population of 4,700), which means you won't find a whole lot to do in the area. While on campus I would definitely make sure to check out the Eddie G. Robinson Museum, a must see for any college sports fan. Other than the Eddie Robinson Museum you won't find a whole lot to do on campus or in the town of Grambling. The closest entertainment I found was in Monroe, 35 miles down the road. There in Monroe there is a mall and a convention center that holds concerts from time to time. Also in Ruston just down the road from Grambling you can find the University of Louisiana Tech which also has college athletics and a usually highly ranked women's basketball team. Overall though I think that's a little too far to travel to find something to do, which is the downfall to a small college town.
The fans weren't in abundance due to the cold icy weather, but the fans that were there made sure you knew they were in the building. With chants of "Let's Go Tigers" the fans were loud at the most opportune times. I was disappointed by the lack of a student section as there were only 25 or so students in the student section. The fans ranged from youngsters barely able to walk, to the older crowd there to enjoy a good game and root on their Tigers. Both teams were definitely having seasons to forget with a combined win total of 3 games won after playing 35, but that didn't stop them from playing their hearts out. The lack of a pep band at the game I do think takes away from some of the aura of the game especially since that's what SWAC schools are so well known for. Hopefully this will be something the Athletic Department addresses in the future. Overall though, I thought the fans did a decent job in making thier presence known.
Access to the college and stadium is as easy as it gets. Located just off the I-20, you can't miss the university. The arena is nestled away in the corner of the campus along with the lady's softball field and Eddie Robinson Stadium. Parking is free and a short walk from the stadium which is always a plus in my book. Since the arena is newly built bathrooms are in abundance and about as clean as you will find anywhere. Due to the smaller crowd at the game entrance and exit from the arena was a breeze.
With ticket prices ranging from $8-12 and free parking, you will not find a much cheaper basketball experience. Like I said earlier, I can't say much for what you will pay for concessions or the quality of what they offer, but I think it would be hard pressed to ruin the trip. If you're looking for the best of college basketball this definitely isn't the place, but if you're looking for a cheap game to attend and in the area, you can't go wrong with attending a Grambling State basketball game.
A definite plus for the beautiful new arena. It might be too much right now for the Tigers, but hopefully they will grow into it. Another plus goes out to the beautiful Eddie Robinson Museum and how this school has truly embraced and carried on the spirit of one of the greatest football coaches of all time. I do hope that one day Grambling State will include a pep band at their basketball games with the history and credibility that their band holds, it's a shame to not see them involved.
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