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Official Review by Bradlee Ross, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Mabee Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma is the home of Oral Roberts University's Golden Eagles Men's Basketball. Opening in 1972, the arena has a maximum capacity of 11,300 and was the largest arena in Eastern Oklahoma until the BOK Center was built in Tulsa. The Mabee Center, along with being the home of ORU basketball since its opening, has also played host to numerous NCAA tournaments and conference tournaments.
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".
The available concessions are nothing to get too excited about. They basically consist of the normal ball-game food, like hot dogs, popcorn and nachos. They did have a couple of Dippin' Dots stands, which added a bit of variety and something sweet. Prices are pretty average. It's still too expensive, but no more expensive than other venues. Same goes for quality of food.
The atmosphere was family friendly to the highest degree. Oral Roberts is a Christian college so that part of it made sense. Overall, the atmosphere was still pretty fun. They had the normal halftime and time out games. My favorite was two people competing for a prize by trying to catch the most rubber chickens in a bag in a certain amount of time. Seating was comfortable and afforded plenty of space. The higher seats aren't as bad as in other places, but if you can, you definitely want to sit as close to the court as possible.
The surrounding neighborhood isn't great. There are a lot of chain restaurants nearby, most of which are fast food. There's also a Walmart across the street in case you want to do any shopping. The biggest redeeming factor is the River Spirit Casino just down the road. It's huge and will provide plenty of fun for anyone looking for a good time after the game.
The fans were very supportive of the team. You can tell that ORU is trying to make itself a big option for families and children's groups. The crowd was full of families and children which made the whole crowd much more excited. I was surprised at the size of the crowd. The arena was near full capacity. Apparently it was a promotional night, which probably accounted for the large crowd. The fanbase appears to be exuberant and very supportive of the home team.
I left feeling very conflicted in this area. The parking at the arena is fantastic. It is completely circular on the outside and the entire place is surrounded by acres and acres of parking. It's the best parking I've ever seen. However, once you get inside the Mabee Center, there is just one entrance to the actual basketball arena. This led to massive congestion, and it took a long time to get in. To make matters worse, there were no lines or organized ways of getting to the entrance. It was a mere free-for-all, which led to pushing, cutting and a major lack of comfort. Another problem was the placement of the Dippin' Dots vendors. They would often have them placed right by entryways into the seating and restrooms. This also caused major congestion. Other than those problems, the walkways were spacious enough, and the bathrooms were clean and plenty.
The return on investment was very good, simply because tickets are extremely cheap. The most expensive tickets I could find were only $25, which is very good for the seats they were for. This arena isn't great, but the affordability makes it too good to pass up.
There are no extras worth noting. The Mabee Center serves its purpose of hosting college basketball games, but there is little to set it apart.
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