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Official Review by Chad Minton, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Few basketball venues in the Ohio Valley Conference give a better home-court advantage than what Tennessee State enjoys. That notion was very obvious on this particular night as the Tigers welcomed in No.14 Murray State for a nationally televised game.
The Gentry Center can hold 10,500 for a basketball game, and the place can get extremely loud, despite its small size. Stevie Wonder opened this place in 1980, and it’s been rocking ever since.
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".
Unfortunately, the concessions are not one of the bright spots of this venue. In fact, they didn’t even meet the bare minimum. Hot dogs and popcorn were really the only food offered, with the prices ranging from $3 to $4. The lines were also unbelievably long. They were definitely not worth waiting in for a basic box of popcorn. You have a problem when high school basketball games offer more options than a NCAA Division I basketball program.
Unless you like hot dogs, plan on eating a decent meal before the game.
You couldn’t have asked for a more lively atmosphere for a college basketball game. The Tennessee State fans were loud throughout, but so were Murray State surprisingly large crowd. The acoustics are pretty bad in the Gentry Center, so it made for a very loud venue. For at least the first portion of the game, it served the home team well.
What really made the atmosphere so great was Tennessee State band. It may have been the best performance by a college band that I have ever witnessed in-person. The band did a superb job at making the place even more electric than it already was. The Tennessee State dancers and cheerleaders also provided quality entertainment during commercial breaks and halftime.
Like many college venues, the Gentry Center is located directly on-campus. The campus itself has a lot of pretty areas, but there’s absolutely nothing to do in the form of tourism or dine-in restaurants. The interstate is within five minutes of the Gentry Center, but it’s important to keep in mind that the Tennessee State campus is really in the downtown area. Plan on making a short drive to the downtown area if you want to do anything more than going through the drive-thru window at a fast food restaurant.
This is kind of an inconvenience due to the fact that there’s limited options offered at the game as well.
The Tennessee State basketball is very lucky to have such passionate fans, young and old. The student section was very lively throughout the game. One example of this was how much the fans actually paid attention to the game. It seemed like almost every fan in my particular section was personally coaching their team on. That was cool to see.
Even when the game was well out of reach, the fans continued to show support. With less than two minutes to play, a majority of the fans were still there with the same energy they had arrived with.
It’s very simple to find the campus itself. Even with the game-related traffic, we were parked in less than ten minutes. That was the good part. However, the bad part was finding the Gentry Center itself. Little did we know that we were close to a mile away from the building after parking. There are no signs directing you anywhere, meaning you pretty much have to rely on following the groups of people. If it was a normal night when the No.14 team in the country wasn’t paying a visit, then I could see it being a major pain finding the Gentry Center on Tennessee State’s campus.
Another major issue was that the building isn’t even labeled. It took asking a few questions to figure out where the main entrance even was. Finally, it was painfully obvious that the friendly staff was not use to having this many people come to a basketball game. There was virtually no organization on finding lines for tickets or finding lines for will-call.
The reserved seats sold out rather quickly, so many people had to result to purchasing general admission tickets. General admission tickets were $10, which was a very fair price for seeing a game featuring a high-caliber team like Murray State. The seats were also very good seats for the price.
Listening to Tennessee State’s talented band almost paid for the ticket itself.
You could easily have an enjoyable evening catching some live college basketball for under $20 per person, which isn’t bad at all in this day and age.
First and foremost, I thought it was very refreshing to see the head coach of Tennessee State personally thank the fans for supporting them on that evening. It was obvious that he was not asked to do this, and that he went out of his way to grab a microphone as fans were exiting.
An extra point also goes to the giant inflatable tiger head that the players ran out at the beginning of the game, and after halftime. It fit into the corner of the gym very nicely.
Lastly, an extra point goes to the fans setting a new school record for attendance at a basketball game. That attendance mark was 10,125. All those loyal fans deserve a pat on the back for coming out and supporting their team on a big occasion.
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Nashville, TN 37203
605 8th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203
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