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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
McKenzie Arena has served as the home of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) Mocs since 1982. The 10,928-seat facility is more commonly known by its nickname of “The Roundhouse”. This refers to its round shape, as well as a nod to Chattanooga’s long railroad heritage, as immortalized in the song “Chattanooga Choo Choo”.
As a joint venture between UTC and the City of Chattanooga, McKenzie Arena is utilized throughout the year for a variety of events. When not hosting Mocs basketball, the arena is the site of rodeos, ice shows, monster truck competitions, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. A number of major performers have put on concerts at The Roundhouse including Vince Gill, Elton John, Reba McEntire, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Carrie Underwood and Jimmy Buffett.
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".
McKenzie Arena has six permanent concession stands equally distributed around the concourse. In addition, there are a number of single-product booths set up strictly for game days. Food offerings include hot dogs ($3.50), pizza ($3.50), nachos ($3.50), popcorn ($3.00), ice cream ($2.50), and of course, Chattanooga's culinary gift to the world -- Moon Pies ($3.00). The beverage menu includes Coca-Cola products ($3.00) and bottled water ($3.00). The arena is not allowed to sell beer, as it is considered part of a state academic facility.
Because McKenzie Arena serves a broader community than just the university and its large seating capacity, Mocs games typically fill only half of the arena. When the University of Tennessee or another SEC team provides the opposition, the attendance picks up dramatically. The UTC brand is prominently displayed throughout the playing area and the concourse, where a wall-sized mural illustrating the Mocs' long and successful basketball history is on view. McKenzie Arena replaced the old playing court after the 2015 season, with the new surface featuring the stylized C logo.
In addition, the school's pep band, cheerleaders and dance squad do a great job in getting the crowd enthused. The team has been extremely successful in games at McKenzie Arena, as they have a nearly .800 winning percentage at home. They have also brought home a number of Southern Conference championships over the years.
UTC is located just east of downtown Chattanooga, on the banks of the Tennessee River. Many of Chattanooga's main tourist attractions, such as the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hilton and Warehouse Row, are located within walking distance of the campus. A free shuttle runs frequently from the Choo Choo to the entertainment district located along the Tennessee River waterfront. This district includes the Tennessee Aquarium, the Bluff View Art District, many of the city's top restaurants and clubs, and AT& T Field, home of the Chattanooga Lookouts Minor League Baseball team.
Among the restaurants you will want to check out are Big River Grille and Brewing Works or 212 Market near the riverfront, the Back Inn Café in the Bluff View Art District, and the Public House on Warehouse Row.
There are a number of reasonably priced hotels near the McKenzie Arena. These include the Days Inn Downtown ($79), the Downtown Marriott ($123) or the Chattanooga Choo Choo ($170).
Considering the long record of success for the Mocs basketball program, it is surprising that the team does not attract a bigger following. The turnout by the student body was very small during our visit, and those who did attend were not very into the game. There is usually a sizeable turnout of alumni and persons who live in the residential area adjacent to the arena. This portion of the audience takes part in the cheers, sings "Chattanooga Choo Choo" every time the pep band plays it and comes to their feet after several breakaway baskets scored by the up-tempo Mocs offense.
McKenzie Arena is easy to find, as it is just east of downtown Chattanooga. From US Highway 27, you would take the 4th Street exit (#1C) and proceed seven traffic lights, and the arena will be on your right. Turn left at the next traffic light (Mabel Street), and the facility's parking deck will be on your left.
Persons with disabilities or difficulty in walking long distances/ up steps should enter at Gate 2. When purchasing tickets, it is best to mention you need wheelchair access, and the arena staff can assist you in providing a parking pass for your vehicle in the handicap lot adjacent to Gate 2.
Ticket prices for Mocs games are $10 for general admission (300 level), $15 for seats at the 200 level and $20 for seats at the 100 level , The concession prices average $3.00 per item. Hotel rates are very reasonable for an area with numerous tourist attractions. A free downtown shuttle allows you to leave your car at your hotel and avoid parking fees. The parking fee at the arena lot is $5.00. Considering all the activities that are available in the Chattanooga area, an economical weekend for the entire family is very possible.
Chattanooga has become a tourist haven, and to experience all you need to allow for a three-day weekend. In addition to the Aquarium and the riverfront attractions, Chattanooga is home to Rock City, Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls.
The Tennessee Riverwalk starts in downtown Chattanooga, then passes through the UTC campus and continues for another 20 miles along the Tennessee River. This greenway is filled with bikers, hikers and runners on a year-round basis. Bikes can be rented downtown and returned at the end of the trail, with shuttles provided to bring you back.
On-the-water options also abound in Chattanooga. Kayaks are available for rent, or if you are less energetic, you can ride on a real riverboat.
Chattanooga is equidistant from both Atlanta and Nashville, so if you are planning for a week-long trip, you can include these options.
Member Review by ChadMinton on Feb 24, 2013
Known as “The Roundhouse”, McKenzie Arena was built in 1982 and serves as a great stage for college basketball for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Unlike similarly-sized programs, Chattanooga enjoys a large home venue that seats nearly 11,000 fans. The facility itself actually serves as the city of Chattanooga’s main facility for concerts and other entertainment events. If Chattanooga could find some national success and build a larger fan base as a mid-major program, McKenzie Arena could really become a tough place to play for visiting teams.
Member Review by BillVol on Apr 04, 2014
UTC left one of the better basketball venues anywhere in 1982 when they moved from Maclellan Gymnasium (capacity 4,177) to the UTC Arena, now called McKenzie Arena, AKA "The Roundhouse." This may be the worst arena I've ever been in. 70% of the seats are upstars, evidence of the poor design of this arena. The arena is covered in aluminum siding. A terrible place to watch a basketball game.
35 Patten Pkwy
Chattanooga, TN 37402
1012 Market St
Chattanooga, TN 37402
222 Broad St
Chattanooga, TN 37402
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