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Official Review by Harrison Huntley, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The ground was broken for Carter Gymnasium at Campbell University in 1952, a small gym with a capacity of 947. Like many NCAA gyms of the time, it was small, intimate, and a huge home court advantage. When Campbell made the move to Division 1, it was obvious they needed a more suitable venue. Gore Arena opened inside Pope Convocation Center in 2008, and has been improving ever since. Overall, it's a model mid-major arena and a great home court advantage for the Camels.
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".
There isn't much to impress in terms of concessions, but not much to complain about either. At either of the concession stands you'll find hot dogs, nachos, candy, popcorn, and cotton candy. Coke products are also available. There are also sno-cones and soft pretzels available on carts around the concourse. All of this is priced for $3 or less, which is well below average. You won't find a full meal, but there are plenty of affordable snacks to get you by.
While a small stadium can be seen as a disadvantage in football, many mid-major basketball programs thrive on the electricity of small gyms. Crowd noise can echo, students can stand a few feet from the action, and it's easy to catch the energy. Even though this review was over Christmas break, the seats still filled up and the opposing team heard from the crowd the whole game.
Every seat in the arena offers a great view of the action. There are 13 rows of orange chair-back seats, which will give you a close and comfortable seat to the action. Even the highest seat in the house is closer (and cheaper) than most big arenas.
Campbell is the only NCAA school with the Camels as their mascot, so be sure to grab a picture with Gaylord the Camel. He roams the stands throughout the game. There's also an emcee that directs games and promotions during timeouts.
Most of these promotions are run through Camel Vision, the most recent addition to the venue. The new video board was hung when Campbell was selected to host the 2016 Big South Championship. It's quite an impressive screen, and one of the biggest among mid-major arenas.
If you've never heard of Buies Creek, North Carolina, you're not alone. On its own, the population is just under 3,000. As you can imagine, it's a different place when school is in session. Because of that, there are limited restaurant options, aside from those on campus.
Campus Grill is right across the street from the arena. This is the classic college town burger joint, perfect for those college students with tight budgets. The famous Jacked Up Burger is the special here. It comes with bacon, cheddar cheese, homemade barbecue sauce, grilled onions, and mustard.On the other side of the traffic circle, you can find Subway and a Chick-fil-A Express, too.
Fans young and old get into the games at Pope. They stay in the action throughout the game, making their thoughts heard to both the players and the officials. The small size definitely factors into the home-court advantage. The students are called the "Camel Crazies," and sitting under the basket, they do their best to distract free throw shooters.
Campbell's campus is located under an hour from Raleigh, Fayetteville, or I-95 in North Carolina. You'll need to take a back road or two to get there, so make sure you bring your GPS. It's easy to find parking, though, as there's plenty behind the arena.
Once you're inside, you'll walk up to the main concourse. All the concessions are located on this level, which circles all the seats. You'll walk down into the seating bowl to find your orange seat.
Unless you have to sit on the court, go with the $5 general admission tickets. The $10 reserved tickets give you a courtside seat, but you can sit anywhere else for half the price. Free parking gets you in the door for a fraction of the cost of other venues.
Banners hang around the gym honoring the best players and teams in Campbell history. In addition, you can find banners for wrestling and cheer, the building's other two tenants.
There's also a Camel statue outside the gym, a perfect photo opportunity. This point is also added on for the originality. With so many Wildcats and Tigers, it's nice to see a change.
Just as Camden Yards became a model for MLB stadiums, many mid-major schools have started building arenas like this one. It's simple, yet complete with all the new amenities. With close seats and low prices, you can't go wrong with a visit to Campbell.
Member Review by paul on Jan 24, 2013
In 2008, construction was completed for the John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center on the campus of Campbell University. The building houses the Gilbert Craig Gore Arena, home to Campbell’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as volleyball and wrestling.
With a capacity of just over 3,000 the arena provides an intimate space to watch basketball in the Big South Conference.
It’s been more than two decades since the Camels made their lone appearance in the NCAA basketball tournament, a first round loss to Duke in 1992, but the fans at Campbell love their team, and you’ll hear that support when you come to Pope Convocation Center.
Member Review by ianmccor on Apr 18, 2014
You may not be excited about visiting Buies Creek, but this new facility is the town's pride and worth a visit.
Member Review by sgilliam03 on Aug 09, 2014
Watching a game here is fun, the fans are great. The food options were fine. The worst part of my experience was definitely the parking. We had to park quite far away from the stadium. Overall, the Pope Convocation Center is an excellent place to take in a small market college basketball game.
19 Marsha Banks Rd
Buies Creek, NC 27506
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