When most people think of great college basketball states, North Carolina comes to mind. North Carolina has great teams and venues like UNC-Chapel Hill with the Dean Smith Center, and Duke with Cameron Indoor Stadium, but there are a lot of smaller programs and schools in North Carolina that can provide the wonderful fun and entertainment that comes with college basketball. One of those schools is High Point University and their home is the Millis Center. The Millis Center is definitely not a large venue as it only seats 1,750, but it sits them comfortably and is the perfect sized venue for the Big South's High Point Panthers. The arena is kind of interesting as it is sort of an arena in an arena since the outer concourse of the arena is known as Alumni Hall which is where all the sports offices, as well as classrooms and pool are located.
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The Millis Center isn't the biggest arena (in fact it is one of the smallest in Division I basketball), seating only 1,750, but it is still a pretty fresh arena. It was built in 1992. The arena only has one concession stand which is found on the left side of the outer arena. The concession stand doesn't have everything but it definitely covers the basics. I would recommend to the university to maybe open up one more concession stand though as during halftime it can become a pretty hectic area.
At the concession stand you will find Chick-fil-A and BBQ sandwiches as well as hot dogs and slices of Domino's pizza. You can also find warm pretzels, nachos, chips, candy and either 20 oz sodas or water. You won't find anything truly out of the ordinary or mind blowing but enough to hold you over till a more decent postgame meal.
I was actually surprised at just how rowdy the atmosphere got at times at the Millis Center. The fans did a great job of filling the seats and made sure to give the Panthers a clear cut home court advantage. I think the arena is perfectly built as far as size, and they made the Millis Center a place where there isn't a bad seat in the arena. The Millis Center has two scoreboards placed at interesting corners of the court and a four sided scoreboard above center court, which makes keeping up with stats and replays an ease. Overall, with the increased spending that High Point has done on its athletics, it doesn't seem as though they are pinching pennies when it comes to the Millis Center.
Unfortunately High Point isn't a very large town, so the options on places to eat or for entertainment are limited. I would suggest maybe going to Raleigh or Winston-Salem if you are looking for something to do for entertainment. As far as something to eat, the majority of options are fast food or chain restaurants. However, one appetizing place that I found was Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery.
I would describe Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery as your basic steakhouse, but maybe a step above Texas Roadhouse or Logan's Roadhouse. They offer all your basic steaks like ribeyes, NY Strips, and Sirloins. They also offer a great variety of burgers as well as my favorite the Tommy Texas Cheese Fries, which were pretty delicious. As for the beer choices I'd go with the Rocket's Red Ale or Patriot Porter if you're a fan of dark beers or porters.
High Point does a great job at just providing as much as they need. Too many times I see small colleges and universities like High Point try to fit their team in a 4,000-6,000 seat arena, and yeah it looks nice but if you don't have that many fans to fill it you're killing your atmosphere. The Panthers do a great job at subsiding this as they pack their fans into Millis Center well. The Millis Center wasn't sold out but the fans did a great job and rocking the roof off the arena as the game got close, went into overtime and the Panthers eventually won. The fans overall are great and do a wonderful job of supporting the Panthers.
This is one of the most wonderful facets I found during my trip to High Point. I am going to start by deducting one point because I found the Millis Center to be quite a challenge to find as not much on campus or right outside campus is marked well. Due to no parking on campus, you have to park at the university soccer stadium and catch a shuttle over to the Millis Center. This does kill the pain of trying to rush to find a parking spot and maneuver in and out of the arena. Once you get in the arena, besides the main ticket counter, you will find making your way around the Millis Center to be a breeze as everything is well marked and the concourses are wide. The bathrooms I found to be nicely updated and never noticed a line even during peak times.
This is where the High Point basketball experience gets a tad tricky. Seats can be had for either $10 or $20. Ten bucks will get you an end court seat, while twenty will get you side court. Twenty dollars is well over-priced, especially for Big South college basketball, but ten bucks I would gladly play. So for $20 you can get an end court ticket as well as a drink and a meal. I think that is well worth the money.
There aren't a whole lot of special extras to the Millis Center or High Point basketball; I will however give one to the interesting architecture of the center. The Millis Center was laid out wonderfully and isn't too big or small, it's just right for High Point.
Another extra point goes to the fans, student section and band of High Point. They may just be a small Big South school in a small North Carolina town but the Panthers do a great job at not only rooting on their team but enjoying themselves.
My last extra point goes to a little known fact to most people. This is actually where college basketball coaching legend Tubby Smith played basketball and was named all-conference his senior year. Tubby says that playing under then coach J.D. Barnett was what made him decide that one day he wanted to coach.
The Millis Center has gone through many changes, but has really developed an atmosphere over the past several years. Under the leadership of Dr. Nido Qubein, the Millis Center has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation that included new seating, video boards, light shows and a state of the art game production system. The High Point University faithful are a very dedicated group that cheers with a fury. The band, creative video displays and an ever-smiling staff make for a first-class experience. If you can get by the fact that all college arenas are not 10,000+, you will enjoy this fantastic building!
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