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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The IUPUI Jaguars returned back to the Indiana Farmers Coliseum on the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the first time since the 1978-79 season in 2014. However, the facility is much different than it was when the men’s program last played in the building. The facility underwent a two-year, $63-million renovation that resulted in much needed changes including wide-open concourses, updated main lobby, terrazzo flooring, exposed steel and wooden beams, and a stylized new basketball court. The seating capacity is 6,800 for basketball.
It is a dramatic change from the team’s previous home on the downtown campus-the IUPUI Gymnasium. Known as “The Jungle” to fans, the Jaguars’ previous home was a cozy 1,200-seat facility that served the team since 1982.
The Jaguars are members of the Summit League and have made one appearance in the NCAA Tournament, in 2003.
The team’s new digs six miles north of their downtown campus is a bold move and perhaps an even bolder statement in the university’s direction with its basketball program. However, will the upgrade and move north of campus bring out the Jaguar faithful and more hometown supporters to the Indiana State Fairgrounds?
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In comparison to Indy Fuel hockey games at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, not all of the concession stands are in operation during IUPUI games. These include the Beers of the World and Sausage World stands. However, all of your basic menu items can be found on the main level of the coliseum floor. The Angus beef burgers ($7), brisket sandwiches and pulled pork with kettle chips ($8), Italian and mettwurst sausage sandwiches ($8), and chicken finger baskets ($8) are a few of the tasty new choices that can be found at various concession areas. The basic hot dog ($4) is fresh, juicy, and served on a lightly steamed bun.
There is a small splattering of patrons throughout the lower level seating concourse. The upper level is closed for the men's basketball game. A student section is visible, but there are no signs, painted faces, or acts of revelry as with other area college facilities. A live D.J. ejects excitement to the crowd with live music and cheering. The team's official mascot, Jawz, does his best to stir up the crowd during the game.
The main lobby is a nod to another era with vintage photos, resurfaced original facility seating, and Art Deco ticket booths. There is a small table selling IUPUI merchandise in front of the closed gates of the Indy Fuel's gift shop.
The coliseum makes for a fantastic place to watch basketball and the team's stylish court is emblazoned with the Indianapolis skyline - it makes it one of the keenest in the state. However, it is a very calm atmosphere and one that should have its moments in the future.
If you happen to attend a weekend game, make sure to visit to the Hook's Drugstore Museum located within seconds of the coliseum on the fairgrounds. The old drug store houses the world's largest selection of drug store memorabilia from old lanterns, signage, medicine boxes, shelves, and an old fashioned soda fountain where they still make drinks and sell candy. Admission is free, but it is a wonderful place to visit and to take a step back in time.
A few miles north in South Broad Ripple is Taste Cafe, featuring gourmet sandwiches, soups, and salads. Lava Lips is a hot sauce bar where one can try as many sauces as they want on the Scoville Scale and also pick up a couple of bottles. The SoBro Cafe features vegan, vegetarian, and carnivorous items that are made from scratch. If you desire something a little more fancy, then Mama Carolla's is the area's best spot for Italian cuisine in an authentic setting.
There are passionate fans at the game and perhaps a weeknight game while class is in session might result in a different atmosphere. The Jaguar faithful do their best to cheer on the team and support hometown college basketball. I truly believe that with the team's brand new state-of-the-art arena, you will see a few more fans attending games in the near future.
The crowds are not big for games and getting in and out of the fairgrounds is quick and easy. The price to park is $5. There are two entries at either Fall Creek Parkway or 38th Street; with the best choice at Fall Creek. Once inside the coliseum, the concourses are a little narrow, but easy to walk around if one desires a scenic tour around the renovated arena.
The ticket prices are $15 for adults and $10 for children and are for any seat in any section of the coliseum. The school could have set up a few price points to gain an extra few dollars from patrons, but it is a nice nod that tickets are just one price and very affordable in the frenzied basketball-loving Hoosier state.
The Jaguars have a very sleek looking basketball court and a silhouette of the Indianapolis skyline. The Jags earn another extra for having only one price point for their ticket sales; a very simple and easy way to purchase a ticket to the game at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
The relocation from the small gymnasium to the spacious coliseum adds another venerable and enjoyable "fieldhouse" to the city of Indianapolis. It is an arena that has its share of history, the Indiana Pacers called it home in the ABA from their inception in 1967-1974 and hosted the Indiana State High School Championships during World War II. At this point, the coliseum is looking at starting a few more basketball traditions within its walls.
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5164 N College Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46205
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