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Official Review by Joshua Guiher, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Cam Henderson Center was built in 1981 with seating for over 10,000 fans. The largest ever crowd was February 18, 1984 against The Citadel when 10,705 fans packed the center. In 1998-99, the Henderson Center underwent a $5 million renovation that actually lowered the seating capacity to 9,048.
All of the seats, except the top couple of rows, are chair-back with plenty of room. The first thing I noticed was the lack of a central scoreboard. As I walked around the arena, I noticed that it was hard to see the end mounted replay board from a few of the upper angles, but Marshall did have smaller scoreboards so that you at least could know the score and keep an eye on the game clock.
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".
You aren't going to find anything substantial to eat at the Henderson Center. The entire main menu consisted of six items, five of which were junk food. Candy $2.50, chips $2, cracker jacks $3.50, pretzel $4, cheese cup $1, popcorn $4 and the main course, a thunder dog $3.50.
There were a few specialty stands that offered food from local establishments such as Cold Stone creamery items ($5), Philly cheesesteak ($6.50), Italian sausage ($7.50 or $11 as a meal with chips and a drink).
Drinks were Pepsi products and the options were souvenir cup ($4.50), Gatorade ($4), bottled water ($3), and coffee/hot cocoa ($3).
One of the odder things was a concession stand on the floor level with a single guy selling popcorn.
Overall, between the prices and the lack of selection, I was disappointed.
The atmosphere was great despite the fact that the game I went to was over winter break. This meant that the students were at home and it was also the day before the bowl game so the band, cheerleaders and dance team were all missing.
Even with the missing portions of the crowd, attendance was larger than most collegiate basketball games I have been to and loud. Sure, some of the "Let's Go Herd" and "We Are"¦Marshall" chants were missing, but the staff did a great job of filling in with piped in music.
The biggest issue was the sound system, which I was told is original back to 1981. To call it atrocious is being polite, although I am told it is scheduled to be replaced in 2012.
I got to the Henderson Center a few hours before the game, so I spent more time around town like I did when I visited for a football game in 2010. I still couldn't find any real nice parts of the town without crossing over the river.
I still recommend the Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe;, a place built just for sports fans. The menu is moderately priced, and the food is worth it and the sports memorabilia is perfect for a sports trip.
The fans were loud and knowledgeable about the game. Not a lot of booing when calls went against the team unless it was truly a bad call. The pre-game intro with the fans all waving green glo-sticks was neat. The crowd also erupted in ear-splitting roars when the Thundering Herd completed a few alley-oops and dunks.
The main concourse was pretty large. The two sides with the concession stands were a bit smaller but pedestrians were still able to move fairly easily.
Fans come in from the concourse right in the middle of the stands, with approximately 20 rows going down and 20 rows going up. It makes the walk to your seat short no matter where you seat is located relative to the court.
The suites were located at one end of the court, above the hoop, giving a bit of an odd angle to view the game, but it seems to be a popular placement for suites in my travels.
Parking on the street right outside of the center was free and if you couldn't find that, there is a parking garage across the street with a walkway right to the front door.
Bathrooms were older but clean.
The only tickets left for the 2011-2012 season are $11 for the upper bench style seats, known as Herd Heaven, a great value for a very competitive team that hosts teams such as Memphis and Belmont. The upper chairback seats are valued at $15 and the lower level chairbacks sell for $25, although both are sold out so you would have to find those on the secondary market.
Overall, $11 for a seat to see quality college basketball in a great atmosphere is well worth it. I recommend you attend a game at the Cam Henderson Center if traveling anywhere around Huntington, WV.
Fan interactive games were limited to over half-time, which was nice as it kept media time out focus on the actual basketball game. The staff was polite and really helped me learn my way around the Henderson Center, also allowing me to take a few photos from the suites despite not having a ticket for this area. Final extra point for the good P.A. announcer. One of the better announcers I have heard.
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857 3rd Ave
Huntington, WV 25701
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800 3rd Ave
Huntington, WV 25701