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Official Review by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Austin Spurs (formerly the Toros) are an affiliate of and are owned by the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, and play in the Central Division of the NBDL (National Basketball Development League). Prior to being the Austin Toros, the team played as the Columbus (GA) Riverdragons from 2001-2005. When Austin was awarded the franchise in 2005, the team first played in the Austin Convention Center, and then in 2010 moved to the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park near Austin, TX.
The Austin Toros won the NBDL Championship in 2012, as well as the Southwest Division Championship in 2008. As with many NBDL teams, based on roster moves and players, the team’s performance can vary year to year.
In October 2014 the team was renamed the Austin Spurs, and began sharing the nickname of their parent club, the San Antonio Spurs.
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park is also home to the Texas Stars of the AHL (American Hockey League), the Austin Aces (tennis), and the University of Texas Men’s Hockey team (ACHA Divison II). It also hosts wrestling matches, Cirque Du Soleil performances, and other concerts and events.
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".
Though some concession stands are closed during Spurs games, there are plenty of food and beverage options for a fan at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
There's the Pizza Hut (Personal Pan Pizza $7.50), Tortilla Fresca (Monster Chicken Nachos $8.50, Nachos Grande $6.25), Top Dog (a variety of hot dog offerings), and Grille Works (Buffalo Chicken Tender Basket $8.75, Double Cheeseburger Basket $11). All the stands offer some variety of your standard fare (regular hot dogs, hamburgers and such; as well as basic snacks like popcorn, pretzels, cotton candy, peanuts and the like ranging from $4 - $6.25).
The two food specialties at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park are Amy's Ice Cream (a cart on the concourse) and Smokey Mo's BBQ concession (unfortunately Smokey Mo's is closed for Spurs games) and that's too bad.
Coca Cola products are offered as well as Snapple beverages. Beers offered include Blue Moon, Budweiser, Bud Light but no local brews are offered here. Wine is also available at some concessions stands. Drinks range from $4 to $8 depending on what you order.
There is a Coors Light Club Lounge which provides other alcoholic drinks but this area is only for those fans that purchase tickets in the club lounge in sections 106 and 107.
The Spurs do a great job at a game day presentation.
The building temperature is a comfortable for a Spurs game. If you're one who gets warm easily, wear a t-shirt; if you're one who tends to get chilly, bring a long sleeved shirt, just in case (but you probably won't need it). The seats are cushioned and most have cup holders.
The scoreboard is clearly viewable from all seats and provides the score, TOL (time outs left), number of team fouls and a clear, live video board. Stats of the players on the floor are shown above the suite level on a banner display. The PA announcer is clear and calls all plays with no music disruption.
There are two levels of seating with the top level being the suites (most of which are empty during a Spurs game). All seats seem to have a good view of the basketball game. The seats in the general admission area (sections 122, 101, 102) are a bit of a distance from the court but one can still watch the game with ease. Center court sections are 106 and 107 (facing the player benches and logo) and sections 117 and 118 (behind the benches). There are tables and chairs behind each end zone for patrons to watch the game at floor level. And there are courtside floor level seating options, as well.
Fans are allowed to visit the floor level areas prior to game time and take photos, visit the merchandise table, and talk with the DJ. The ability to do this is very accommodating and delightful for a visitor.
Two things that I'm not a fan of occur at this arena during basketball games: One, during the player introductions, the lights are turned down (almost off) so a fan can't see who the players are and what they look like as they make their way onto the court. The other, they play music during the play of the game. It's quite distracting.
There are no restaurants or places of entertainment within walking distance. There are a few popular hotel chains and restaurants a little over a mile away from the area. I can recommend the Best Western Cedar Inn and the LaQuinta Inn both on E. Whitestone Blvd (aka 1431).
If taking train rides is your interest, consider the Austin Steam Train Association located next to the Best Western Cedar Inn. This attraction offers a variety of train excursions on vintage train passenger cars.
Twenty or so miles away is downtown Austin, the capital of Texas. There are plenty of things to see, do, eat, and drink in that city.
The average attendance at a Spurs game is between 1,000 and 1,500. Given a stadium capacity of 6,800, this makes the stadium seats feel a bit barren at a game. Seating in sections 109 - 115 behind the one end zone is closed off for fans during basketball games. Those seats are not covered with plastic tarp and that suits the arena well.
There are lot of kids in attendance at Spurs games, so kudos to the organization for promoting basketball among the youth. Many of the children perform on the court between time outs and at half time. This entertainment includes Kung Fu presentations, Pep Squad cheers, and other dance treats. The children's ages range from five to young adult.
Although there is a strong Spurs fan base, much of the fans are families of the children performing during halftime and between time outs. The cheers are there at the appropriate moments of scoring a basket and free throw. Nothing more.
The H-E-B Center at Cedar Park is easily accessible right off Route 183A (toll road) via automobile. There are no noticeable public transportation options to get to the arena. If flying into the area, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is the closest airport and is about 30 miles from the arena.
Parking, although plentiful, is $10 which is highway robbery for an NBDL game. There is no noticeable street parking options so one is kind of stuck with this fee.
There are three gates at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park but only the main entrance, near the ticket booth and flags, is open for a Spurs game.
Security check is painless and there are tables in which to place your bag for the security folks to search. More arenas should do this.
The concourses are sufficiently wide for pedestrian traffic flow (even if there is a full house). Restrooms serve their purpose and are plentiful and clean throughout and after the game.
Single game tickets range from $5 - $25.
There are all kinds of promotional nights so be sure to check their website before heading to a game. Every Sunday home game is a Family Fun Day where a fan can get a game ticket, a hot dog, and a soda for just $11. And there is the traditional Thirsty Thursdays where beers are just $3.
I'd recommend getting the $5 general admission ticket and then roam around the seating area during quarters to get different views of the game play.
Concession prices are on the high side for an NBDL game.
The real killer is the $10 parking charge.
The Spurs provide extraordinary customer service at the game. The security check individuals, the concession folk, the staff, all make visitors feel warm and welcome. The staff shows genuine interest and appreciation in why you are attending a game here and they interact well with fans.
Having the ability to enter the floor level pregame and being able to roam around the seating area to view the game from different perspectives is always a bonus.
There are three banners displayed: One for the 2012 NBDL Championship, one for the 2008 Southwest Division Championship and one retired number honoring Dennis Johnson, NBA hall of famer, who coached the Toros from 2005 till his death in 2007.
Free programs and rosters are handed out upon entry to the arena.
If you're in the Austin, TX area and you like the sound of squeaky sneakers on a hardwood court and the game of basketball, I'd recommend attending an Austin Spurs game. The customer service will astound you.
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401 E Whitestone Blvd
Cedar Park, TX 78613