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Official Review by Joshua Guiher, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) has been playing their basketball tournament at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum from 2010-2012. In 2013, the tournament will move to Norfolk, Virginia, and Norfolk Scope Arena, with commitment to be there until at least 2015.
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".
Good luck finding food. There was one partially open concession stand and one small concourse cart called Red Hot & Blue. Every other concession stand and cart was closed.
Food options at the main concession stand were an all-beef hot dog ($4.50), a corn dog ($3.75), a cheeseburger ($6.25), a turkey burger ($6.25), hamburger with fries ($8), chicken tenders with fries ($8) and fries ($4.50). You could also add a chili and cheese cup for the hot dog or fries for an extra $1.
If you wanted snacks, they had nachos ($5), pretzels ($4), peanuts, ($4), popcorn ($4) and candy ($3.50).
At the Red Hot & Blue stand, you could get a BBQ Sandwich ($6) or a BBQ tray ($7.50), which was the sandwich and a scoop of coleslaw.
Drinks were Pepsi products. A large was $5 and a small was $4. Bottled water, Gatorade and Sweet Tea were also offered for $4 each.
There was no atmosphere for basketball in the building. The concourse was full of people selling purses, make-up and non-licensed fraternity and sorority shirts. It was like a flea market and didn't fit with a sporting event at all. I mean, who comes to a five game basketball tournament to get a manicure?
In between the games, there was an annoying DJ that only had a few games he liked to play with the fans, so it was very repetitive. He also selected cheerleaders for the majority of the games, so the fans in attendance had no shot at winning the prizes.
Also, the scoreboard didn't work right, so trying to pay attention to stats and watch replays was basically impossible.
Winston-Salem is not a great town to visit in my opinion, and you have to be careful which direction you drive. I recommend you stick to the main roads. For food, the Mellow Mushroom is a good choice. They have great pizza, and even have a gluten-free version. The meatball appetizer and the magic mushroom soup are both also really good.
The Mellow Mushroom also has beer, but if you want a place with more IPA's and specialty beers, try Foothills Brewing. Try the Pilot Mountain Onion Rings along with a Salem Gold or Hoppyum IPA to drink.
There were no fans. Alright, so there were between 200-300 at any given time. That's pretty bad when you have 10 teams playing in a single day! Also, that number includes the players and cheerleaders from the other teams who stuck around to watch potential future matchups.
The crowd never got loud and hardly ever cheered. They basically just sat around and quietly watched the games. I felt bad for the players.
The parking lot was huge and you had plenty of room to park. It is easy to get to the parking lot from the highway. But $8 to park in an empty lot is plain price-gouging. Basically, you couldn't park anywhere else because you would get towed if on the Wake Forest campus.
The concourse of the Joel is pretty wide, but the temporary stands really messed with your ability to walk around. Thankfully there was not a huge crowd.
The bathrooms were huge and fairly clean.
Hard to say that $11 for five basketball games is a bad investment, but the food and atmosphere were so bad, I can't recommend this tournament to anyone except a family member of a player.
I have nothing here unless getting free makeup lessons at a sporting event is your thing.
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314 W 4th St
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
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