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Official Review by Bradlee Ross, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Gallagher-Iba Arena has been the home of Oklahoma State basketball since December 9, 1938. The facility was christened that day as legendary coaches Henry Iba of Oklahoma A&M (later Oklahoma State) and Phog Allen of Kansas faced off in a 21-15 Oklahoma A&M victory. Named for Iba and historic wrestling coach Ed Gallagher, the arena has a current capacity of 13,611, making it the sixth-largest basketball arena in the Big 12.
It is also generally considered to be one of the best college basketball venues in the country, referred to often times as "The Rowdiest Arena in the Country" and "The Madison Square Garden of the Plains." Connected to the football stadium, it has also benefited from the contributions of OSU donor T. Boone Pickens.
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".
Gallagher-Iba has plenty of concession stands to go around. I walked around and checked out them all. Lines were short and service seemed to be very helpful and quick.
Food variety is pretty good. They have the normal game food: hot dogs, soft drinks, popcorn, pretzels, etc. Also, they have bratwursts, chicken sandwiches, and BBQ sandwiches. Their food prices weren't as low as I would have liked, but a couple of people could easily get what they need for under $20.
Gallagher-Iba has a great atmosphere. The seats are so steep that everyone is right on top of each other, making the venue extremely loud when it needs to be. The student section is pretty lively all the time, which is always important in this area. Like most college basketball arenas, the further you get from the court, the tamer it seems to be.
All in all, the way the arena is built is a huge plus and, on big game days, the atmosphere is second to none in the country.
The atmosphere outside the arena is also superb. The surrounding neighborhood boasts the strip, which has tons of neat bars and hangout spots. The restaurants in the area are something else. The Hideaway boasts the world's best pizza, and I urge you to go try and prove them wrong. You won't regret it.
Stillwater also has Eskimo Joe's, where amazing cheese fries, burgers and other great entrees await you. One thing you will have to await is a table, as Eskimo Joe's is the place for everyone on any kind of game day in Stillwater. But that's OK, because you can go shop in the Eskimo Joe's clothing store for some awesome souvenirs while you wait.
Stillwater is the perfectly sized college town, nestled right in between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. It's not too big, not too small and homey while still having everything a person could need.
I'm a bit down on the fan base. I know they are a great one that has made this venue extremely difficult for opposing teams in the past, but I've learned that it depends on which game you go to. In-conference games against rivals produce a frenzied fan base that keeps the opposing team from being able to hear itself think.
The game I went to was not one of those games. There weren't very many people there at all. It may have even been less than half full. Not a good sign from a big time college basketball fan base. The fans that were there were pretty awesome; I just wish there had been more of them.
Access is the same for the football arena, but since the capacity of the basketball arena is less than 25 percent of that of the football stadium, it makes the parking much better. I found free parking a few blocks away which was really nice and I could have gotten closer had I not been so cheap.
Bathrooms were clean and there weren't any long lines. I did find it a bit hard to find a men's bathroom though; it seemed they had a bunch of women's restrooms in clusters. No problem walking around the arena either. Walkways are wide enough that getting around won't ever be a problem.
This largely depends on the game you go to, as that directly affects many of the above-mentioned factors. However, even for a pretty low key non-conference game with a thin crowd, the return on investment for me was still pretty good.
The facility is top-notch in every way. From the restrooms, to the walkways, to the service, to the seating, everything is good for a good time. The neighborhood is also a big factor for before and after dining and celebration.
I will give one extra point for the security and event staff. They did a great job of being helpful with people looking for seats and keeping an eye on everything going on. They were well-staffed as well, so they'd be able to handle larger crowds too.
Another extra point goes for the game floor. I learned that it is the same exact white maple floor that has been used since the venue opened in 1938. That's dependability that deserves rewarding.
Gallagher-Iba is one of the premier college basketball venues in the country, especially in the Midwest. The food is good, the seating is neat and the fan base is always excited for the team. Just pick a decent game if you want a good atmosphere. Everything else is spot on no matter how good the game on the court is.
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230 S Knoblock St
Stillwater, OK 74074
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