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Official Review by Ethan Grant, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Southern Methodist University has a rich tradition of history when it comes to athletic accomplishments. Those traditions haven’t carried over into the 21st century yet, but Moody Coliseum embodies everything about SMU that Mustang students and alumni love to celebrate.
Home to the Texas and Dallas Chaparrals before the NBA franchise moved to San Antonio and became the Spurs, Moody opened up in 1956—coincidentally the last year the Mustangs reached the Final Four.
Since then, it’s been home to SMU basketball and women’s volleyball games, but has also doubled for games including the Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and various other events like cheerleading competitions and concerts.
Renovations in the early 1980's and again in 2006, which included a jumbo-tron in the middle of the arena, have helped to keep the building current, but the old-school feel you get while experiencing the Mustangs play basketball is one of the best parts of the entire experience.
Students and fans are quick to describe the home-court advantage as “Moody Magic”, a phrase that gained popularity after looking up SMU’s all-time record at the Coliseum.
SMU is a university with rich tradition, and Moody Coliseum is at the center of the past, present and future that the Mustangs look to embody with each home game in Dallas.
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There's nothing special in the brick halls of the corridors that house the concession stands at Moody, but you wouldn't expect much else from an old-school basketball gym, would you?
The prices are reasonable for a hot dog, nachos and even a box of crackerjacks (still found on the old-timey menu, no less) so it isn't a huge hassle to leave your seat and grab a quick bite.
The lines do get a little bit long during halftime, but with several workers at each stand it goes relatively fast. There's nothing special at Moody on the concession front, but nothing to complain about either.
Although the stadium holds fewer than 10,000 fans (8,998 to be exact), the spirit of Dallas is alive and well at SMU basketball games. The crowds might be a little paltry during the week with classes and nightlife distracting the student body, but the weekends pull in big crowds adorned in red and blue.
SMU has cheerleaders on the baseline, a band in the "end zone" section of the bowl and rowdy fraternity members cheering both successes and failures of the team on the court, making for a relatively loud experience without a huge crowd.
What sets Moody apart is its history.
The brick walls in the corridors provide an old-timey feel that the school hasn't really changed since the early 1960's, and the dark-tinted wood on the court helps to perpetuate that feeling.
Glass displays of teams and players past also hang from the walls of the halls directly outside the gym, and when you put it all together it completely makes up for the less-than-capacity gym on gameday.
Dallas is one of the world's biggest cities, and smack near the middle of the city in University Park is the SMU campus.
Naturally, that location leads to plenty of extra-curricular activities, including but not limited to high-class restaurants, Uptown (Dallas' biggest bar scene and nightlife section), and plenty of culture just down Highway 75 as you head into downtown.
The school is a little secluded in terms of direct location with things to go see and do, but if you drive any direction, you'll hit land and something to do within five minutes. For those reasons, a drive out to University Park would be a good idea for both sports fans and people looking for some fun after the event is over.
With only 8,000-plus seats to fill, the students are predictably not in full-force at home games. That's okay, because the smaller gym makes sound echo more with a loud student section-no matter the size.
The students are loud and engaged both cheering for their team's success and talking smack at opposing players after an embarrassing miss, a turnover or a spat with a Mustang.
Head coach Larry Brown hasn't turned it around all the way during his first season with SMU, but when he does, the student section has the potential to be one of the loudest in collegiate sports.
Parking is a little bit of an adventure; there are both designated parking garages and off-campus lots that provide free parking to patrons.
Still, with some construction going on near campus and Moody a little ways inland from the main streets, most people are going to have to walk for about 10 minutes before they reach the stadium.
Once inside, the sections are clearly labeled and it isn't hard to find your seat, making for easy access to both get into the gym and to get out of it.
Tickets aren't overly priced, and although the on-court product hasn't particularly caught up to the rest of Conference-USA, the team has a sparkling record at home over the years.
Those factors make SMU a must-visit every basketball season, especially if you'll be in Dallas on vacation or a lay-over on business for a few days. Kids are also welcome at the venue, and it wouldn't be hard to turn the game into a family event for you and your young ones.
A fan shop is located right in front when you walk in, complete with brands and styles that showcase the blue and red in a way that makes you want to take a souvenir home.
Taking a page from the NBA handbook, the Mustangs also employ a timeout game entitled "Shoot-Turn-Shoot" for one lucky fan per game and halftime treats for fans that get restless during the fifteen-minute intermission.
If you get bored, check out some of the old-school water fountains the school still uses, one of which is complete with a bronze-plated plaque inscribed that the First Republic Bank of Texas sponsors the water fountain.
SMU isn't the most popular school in Texas anymore-especially from a basketball standpoint-but Moody Coliseum is one of the more exciting places to still watch a game.
The brick and original feel you get by walking around the halls of the stadium makes you think about a time when things were quite different in college, in sports and in the world in general.
If you've seen the movie "Glory Road," the gym kind of reminds you of the gyms that these teams were playing in on a nightly basis.
Moody Coliseum blends tradition and technological advances as well as any school in Texas. It's a great place to watch a basketball game, well worth your time and it's a chance to reconnect with a school that's managed to keep its roots in tact after all these years.
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