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Official Review by Brian Wilmer, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
High Point University may be familiar to fans across the nation for a number of reasons. The primary reason for most people to know the university is this extensive feature on its grounds and impressive perks offered to students. The school’s beauty and appearance will certainly catch one’s eye upon arrival.
A large part of that beauty can be found in the Millis Athletic and Convocation Center. Just over twenty years old (for the most part -- the gym is inside Alumni Hall, which opened in the 1950s), the facility perfectly fits among its surroundings. The building is flanked by large windows and grand white columns, along with a statue of the Panther mascot. Once inside, the structure is a great blend of modern conveniences and intimate atmosphere. If you crave a small-gym feel with the trappings of a gigantic arena, this may just be your place.
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".
One will not find a culinary paradise at the Millis Center, but there is enough variety available to calm your cravings at a fair price. There are a few entrees, including Domino's pizza slices ($2), hot dogs ($2), gourmet pretzels ($2.25) and nachos with cheese ($2.50). For a simple snack, choices include popcorn ($2), candy ($1.50 for regular sizes, $2.00 for theater sizes), gum (10 cents), Air Heads (50 cents), peanuts ($2) and chips ($1.50).
Coca-Cola serves as the bottler for the facility. Sodas and Powerade are available in bottles ($2), with water a slightly less expensive option at $1.50.
The building's lone concession stand can be found in the lobby, just outside the main entry to the arena's seating area.
The Millis Center is a rather intimate setting, to say the least. The building seats a mere 1,750 fans, which ensures that every fan has a great view of the action. The media seating and team benches are on the same side of the arena, allowing certain fans -- more on them in a bit -- to be just a few feet from the floor. There are just six rows of seats on the sides of the floor, allowing for incredible proximity to the floor from each reserved seat. Additional seats are available behind both baskets, in the form of semi-fixed seating and bleachers.
Before we proceed, let's again recap the close-up seating we referenced. Though there are no real suites in the Millis Center, there are special chairs just off the floor that are reserved for dignitaries and local businesses. The chairs are emblazoned with the names of the individual seatholder or company represented.
The High Point pep band can be found just behind one of the baskets. The group is quite loud -- aided by the setting of the arena -- and talented. Be sure to arrive early to a Panther game, as you will be treated to a mini-show from the band, employing a diverse playlist in the process.
There is not a conventional video component to the scoreboard, as the primary board is a low-profile, center-hung structure that shows the basic required game statistics. The underside of this board displays the school's interlocking "HPU" logo on a purple background. The lack of video component on this board, however, is remedied by the placement of four individual video boards around the arena. The boards display the in-game action, as well as pre-produced video packages, in-game promotions and advertisements for upcoming games..
If noise is a concern for you and you are attending a key game, bring ear plugs. You very well may need them. Of course, if you want to simply immerse yourself in the atmosphere, a couple of ibuprofen may do the trick.
High Point University is located in a more residential area of the city, leaving very little in terms of walkable dining or entertainment options. There are a couple of options about a half-mile from the arena along Lexington Avenue, including Lubrano's Pizza and Kozzy's Grille. For more plentiful options, however, it is recommended to make the two-plus mile drive back to North Main Street, where dining choices of every stripe can be found.
High Point is in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, just miles from Greensboro and Winston-Salem. Though a trip to the other portions of the region is not required to dine, find recreation or sleep, either market can be accessed within a half-hour. This opens up even more entertainment and dining options, should you need them.
It is, of course, reasonably easy to fill a smaller arena, so that fact obviously comes into consideration when talking about the fans at the Millis Center. That said, the fans at High Point routinely pack the arena and make noise for the hometown Panthers. High Point draws quite well, even for games against lesser schools.
The night I attended featured a record crowd of 1,780. The game was close throughout, with High Point pulling out a last-second victory. The crowd was specifically complimented by the players and coaches for their involvement from beginning to end.
The school also occasionally conducts "black-out" promotions, encouraging fans to wear black in support of the team. Despite the team wearing silver or white home jerseys instead of black, the sight of black shirts throughout the stands is quite impressive.
The Millis Center is located directly in the center of campus, just steps from a guard house. There is no parking whatsoever near the building. Therefore, you will need to park on the outskirts of campus and take a shuttle (check the Millis Center website linked in this article for a parking map) or walk nearly a mile from your car to the gym. If you have plans to stay for any period of time after the game, those plans will also be quickly thwarted. The public address announcer makes the "last call" for shuttle service shortly after the final buzzer, so make your celebration a quick one, or your walk will be a lengthy one.
Once inside the building, though, the facilities are spotless. There is plenty of room to walk in the hallways that contain the restrooms and concession area, limiting any possible crowds. The restrooms are clean and appointed in a modern fashion. The main bottleneck -- such as it is -- occurs as you return to the floor from the restroom area. If the stands are crowded, there will be many fans standing on the floor, so you may need to navigate around those fans to return to your seat.
The lower-level seating in the Millis Center is primarily reserved for Panther Club (the school's booster group) donors and students. These seats might be available through an external marketplace, but it is wise not to count on their availability.
This leaves upper-level balcony seating available for fans, and these seats can be purchased for $12. These seats are behind the basket and are the furthest from the floor in the facility. Considering seats can be found for lower prices closer to the floor at just about every Big South institution, one would really have to want to be at a Panther game to rank this a top value. Despite this, however, a ticket, slice of pizza and drink will total $16. This is not the best deal in the conference, but will also not require a second mortgage.
There is a stand that sells High Point merchandise just outside of the arena doors, located toward the restrooms. If you need a Panther shirt or other form of memorabilia, the ability to purchase your gear just steps from your seat is a nice touch. The prices are about what one would expect when buying items at a game.
If you look around at the walls of the arena, you will notice nods to the school's athletic history. Banners hang just above the seating area behind the basket honoring great players and coaches in High Point's past. Additional banners honoring championships among High Point basketball and volleyball hang from the wall behind the team benches. The Panthers have enjoyed a good number of regular-season and conference championships, and these are commemorated on the purple and white signs.
The actual design of the building also deserves some note. As we previously mentioned, the building features prominent columns that make it a perfect architectural fit on the campus. If you look to the left (going toward the gym) or right (going between the gym and restrooms or concession stand), you will notice the university's pool through a series of windows. For those who like to admire buildings, the Millis Center is quite the interesting structure.
Though the Millis Center may not be a 20,000-seat facility with all the latest modern trappings, there is much to be said for its existing layout. There is tremendous action on the court, as the Big South Conference regularly produces some of the best mid-major basketball in the country. The fans are loud and present from the first tip to the final horn. Sure, you won't confuse yourself for being in a seat at Cameron Indoor, for instance, but the Millis Center provides a wonderful snapshot of basketball at this level.
Member Review by pderrick
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.
Member Review by Schmeig on Dec 09, 2011
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!
Member Review by ianmccor on Apr 18, 2014
Needs a lot more seats for family/admissions weekends, especially along the sidelines. Like USC Upstate with the Hodge Center, HPU does all of what it can to get the most out of the building. Fans are great here, but I might be biased as an alum.
Member Review by oldskoolberk on Apr 25, 2017
While the Millis Center is nothing to sneer at and is good for what it is worth, the board of trustees at High Point have agreed to a new basketball arena that will open in the future. Is the place worth a new arena? Let's see.
THE POSITIVES: The place is a gem from the outside. The brick exterior and it is part of an athletic complex that features a large swimming pool. When you get in the place, you somewhat feel like you're in a church with a scripture on the wall, the cleanliness of the area and just had a church vibe. Everything was fairly cheap as well and the employees were very friendly. They also tried to make the place like a show with introductions that rivaled the NBA. And Millis has probably the best bathrooms in the nation with being super clean.
THE NEGATIVES: For the inside, it looked like a high school gymnasium, but also you had some horrid sightlines throughout, which is stunning for a small basketball place. There wasn't much in the way of food either and just sold a couple of shirts, none of them being t-shirts, which surprised me.
OVERALL: I can see why High Point wanted a change for basketball. That said, and maybe because I went in November right before Thanksgiving, but the venue was incredibly empty, though the fans were supportive in a blowout loss. The program probably needs to improve before they get in their new digs, whenever that may be.
914 Mall Loop Rd
High Point, NC 27262
1100 E Lexington Ave
High Point, NC 27262
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