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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
The Hulman Center opened in 1973, and only had to wait 3 years until it reached the best era of basketball in the school's history. It was 1976 that Larry Bird became a member of the Indiana State Sycamores basketball team, and the school, state, and sport of basketball were never the same.
Larry Bird Avenue begins just outside the west entrance to the Hulman Center, and it's not a surprise that Bird's #33 hangs above the court as one of two retired jerseys for the program (Duane Klueh's #54 is the other).
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Expect the expected when you arrive to the Hulman Center as far as snacks and beverages. Your best bet is probably to grab a bite before or after the game, but if you just need a little something to get you through the contest, then you have a few options.
The top dog, so to speak, is a Johnsonville brat ($3.50) with the remainder of the menu evenly priced at $2.50. Those options include box of fresh-popped popcorn, nachos, soft pretzel, or the classic hot dog.
Beverages are Pepsi products with a small (24 ounce) costing you $2.50 or a large (32 ounce) coming in at $3.50. You can also buy a smaller sized souvenir cup for $4. The souvenir size is worth it only for that purpose, something to remember your trip by. Bottled water will cost you $2.50.
The Indiana State pep band really does a wonderful job of keeping the energy level high, playing a number of exciting songs. Most gratifying about this is the absence of music from the PA system. Not that there isn't a place for music from the speaker system, but college basketball just sounds better surrounded by trumpets and trombones than it does through a blaring speaker system.
Seats are raised significantly from row to row, ensuring that the fan in front of you will not be an obstacle when trying to watch the game. Furthermore, all of the seats have a padded seat bottom, with the exception of the few rows of chairs under each basket, most of which belong to the student section and pep band.
The Hulman Center is located just east of Highway 41, and there are several options to grab a bite to eat around the Indiana State campus. My recommendation goes to the 7th and Elm Bar & Grill, located less than a mile from the arena, and probably walkable if you're feeling ambitious. They have 10 beers on tap, including more than just the usual suspects. There's a great menu of reasonably priced sandwiches, ribs, wings, and other bar food. There are also enough TVs for your viewing pleasure, including some individual sized monitors at the tables along the wall.
The student section was pretty disappointing, and remained seated the majority of the game. They had virtually no impact on the game. Luckily, the pep band saved that end of the court, and cheered loudly when they weren't blowing their horns. In fact, the pep band was one of the best that I've seen in the Missouri Valley Conference, and a rival to even the biggest universities.
The rest of the fans were very engaged in the game, and provided some good natured taunting to the opposition, a role that the students were unable to fill.
There is some street parking that can be found in the vicinity of the arena, but your best bet is the parking garage at the corner of Cherry and 7th Streets. There are entrances on each side of the arena, and once you're inside the concourses are wide and easy to navigate.
Lower level seats will cost you either $15 or $25. The $25 seats put you either courtside or in the first few rows. It may be worth the extra cost if you end up on the court, but otherwise I would advise that you save the $10 because your seat in any spot on the lower concourse offers a fantastic view.
The seats above the concourse are only $8 for adults or $6 for youth. Shoot for either sections C or H and you'll have a great seat for all of the action regardless of how high you sit.
Concessions are reasonably priced, but there just isn't anything that seems like it is worth buying. Add in the cost of parking the nearby garage and one could see a game at the Hulman Center for only $18, a deal given the basketball atmosphere and the opportunity to see a game on the court where Larry Legend once ruled.
The floor at the Hulman Center was named the Nellie & John Wooden Court in 2008. Wooden had begun his coaching career at Indiana State in 1946, staying for three years while also coaching the baseball team and serving as the school's athletic director. Playing with John Wooden's name below you, and Larry Bird's name above you must be a great thrill for the Indiana State players, and helps add to the aura of history for spectators.
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