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Official Review by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The McLeod Center opened in 2006, replacing the UNI Dome as the home to Northern Iowa Panthers basketball. The McLeod Center is a more intimate atmosphere than the larger UNI Dome which still hosts the Panthers football team. In addition to basketball, McLeod also hosts wrestling and women’s volleyball for UNI, as well as concerts and other entertainment. The $26 million arena opened in 2006, and holds just over 7,000 fans.
UNI basketball continues to be a hot ticket with the success the team has shown. Perhaps the most celebrated event for the team came in the 2010 NCAA Tournament when ninth seeded Panthers upset the top seed Kansas Jayhawks to advance to the Sweet 16.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
You won't find anything too fancy on the menu, but the prices are reasonable at the McLeod Center. Pizza from Papa John's ($4), bratwurst ($3.50), and hot dogs ($3) are the main choices. The usual mix of popcorn, nachos, pretzels, candy, peanuts, chips, and caramel corn are also available for $2-$4.
Pepsi products are the cola of choice here ($3-$4), along with Gatorade ($3.50), water ($3), and coffee ($2.50).
As you enter the McLeod Center, everything turns to purple and gold, the school colors for Northern Iowa. The seating bowl sits below the concourse with all concessions, restrooms, team store, etc. on the same level. Seating along the two sidelines are all chairback seats with the seats on both baselines being bleacher type seats.
Before or after the game, be sure to take a look at the trophy area that celebrates many UNI accomplishments. It is located north of the arena in an enclosed area between the McLeod Center and the UNI Dome. It is easily accessible and worth a look. Amongst the items on display is the ESPY from 2010 which the Panthers won for "best upset" after knocking off top seed Kansas in the NCAA tournament.
The main video board is located on the south wall over the student section. There are ancillary scoreboards around the arena as well. As the team gets ready to enter the court, a video of team highlights plays and then the team hits the court and lights up the crowd.
Cedar Falls isn't very big and is very much a college town. It has everything the sports fan would want, with plenty of places to eat and drink as well as places to stay. One place definitely worth getting a bite to eat if you like comfort food is J's Homestyle Cooking. It is located just south of the arena. It is open all day and offers up a litany of choices, including the open faced beef sandwich which is stellar.
Another good option is Beck's Sports Grill. Beck's is located on "The Hill" and is a nice sports bar with plenty of options. If pizza is your thing, head over to The Other Place. It's the best pizza in town and always a popular destination for Panther fans.
The fans are right on top of the court and into the game from the time their team takes the court. The intensity is generally sustained throughout the game with extra noise when they sense the team needs it for a defensive stop or to extend a lead. Although the majority of the fans sit when the team scores, the student section is standing for the entire game. The student section is engaged from the start, reading papers and paying no attention when the visiting team is announced and making a lot of noise when their team is announced.
Cedar Falls is about a two hour drive from Des Moines, the nearest big city. Once you arrive, the McLeod Center is easy to find. There is free parking directly across the street, just be sure you are in the dirt portion of the lot.
Once inside, the concourses are wide, and there are enough concessions that the lines are minimal. There are enough restrooms that you shouldn't have to wait there either.
It's hard to beat the cost of attending a game at the McLeod Center. Tickets run $25 for chairback seating (top of 101 and 105, all of sections 106,107,108,113,114,115 and $17 for North Bleacher tickets (bottom of 101 and 105, all of 102,103,104). If there are any student tickets remaining, they go on sale to the public 36 hours prior to the game for $10. With free parking and reasonable concessions costs, you'd be hard pressed to see a top 15 team for less. The possibility is there for an increase in ticket prices for the 2015-2016 season.
An extra point goes for the cost of attending a game. To see a team of this level for the price is a tremendous plus.
An extra point goes to the game day staff who went out of their way to help folks on more than one occasion. Banners adorn the rafters of all the accomplishments of the team who has experienced a lot of success in a relatively short amount of time.
Final point for the rarity of having an actual ESPY on display.
Playing in the Missouri Valley Conference, some would suggest UNI might have to take a back seat to the other state schools in Iowa of the Big 10 and Iowa State of the Big 12. For a fun time at a great price along with a quality team however, the McLeod Center is tough to beat.
Member Review by NickKappel
The McLeod Center hosts men's and women's basketball, volleyball and wrestling. The $26 Million arena opened in 2006, and holds just over 7,000 fans.
Member Review by uniftw on Jul 31, 2013
Only thing missing is a hanging scoreboard above the court.
2210 College Street
Cedar Falls, IA 50613
(319) 277-2646 â??
2214 College St
Cedar Falls, IA 50613
(319) 277-9720 â??
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