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Official Review by Josh Eastern, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington was opened in 1983. It is able to seat 23,000 people and it is the largest arena with a wood dome in the world. The seating does change quite a bit based on the different events that are hosted at the Tacoma Dome. The Dome houses concerts, the high school state football, basketball, and wrestling championships, and was the home to the SuperSonics in 1994 and 1995. This venue can hold almost any event.
Each year, the Washington state high school basketball championships come to Tacoma. The event is known as the Hardwood Classic.
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When you are going to an event at the Tacoma Dome, I wouldn't necessarily plan on getting a big meal. The food is your regular concession stand food, but there are a few stands that have other types of foods, like tacos for example. It is very over priced, which is a major turn off for many people unless they are really craving something to eat. At WIAA (high school) events, no alcohol is served. The customer service is average and lines aren't anything to be worried about as there are a good amount of stands around the concourses.
The only entrances to the stadium can be accessed from the west side of the stadium. From there, you walk up a ramp to the doors. When you walk into the stadium you realize just how old and run down this place is. The Tacoma Dome could definitely use a bit of a facelift and it just has lost some of its luster. In addition, there is no video screen, only a plain scoreboard. I am not a big fan of playing basketball at this venue. It is such a massive arena that basketball just isn't right for the T-Dome.
The atmosphere at the Tacoma Dome for the Hardwood Classic is a little bit lackluster. Because it is such a big venue and because it is so massive, the fans are not very close to the floor and it just doesn't feel quite right to be playing basketball. There are two courts that are separated by a big curtain in the middle so as a fan you could technically watch two games at once.
The Tacoma Dome is right off of Interstate-5 and is a little bit removed from downtown Tacoma. There isn't a whole lot going on around the dome with only about one or two real restaurants. There is a car museum that is brand new across the street, but other than that there isn't much going on around the dome. Your best bet is to drive into downtown Tacoma. A burger joint and a bar are the only two restaurants offered if you are going to the dome.
There is a Best Western hotel next door if you are staying over night, but I would just recommend staying in downtown Tacoma. The area isn't the safest place to be walking around at night, but if there is an event going on, there should be no safety issues.
When you go to the Tacoma Dome for the Hardwood Classic, the fans are there because they want to see some good basketball, and they are enthusiastic for the event or one of the teams taking the floor. The fans come from all over the state to support their team, but some also just come to watch the playoff games. It is fun with the dueling student sections on either side of the court, as well. For the championship games, the stands are always packed and people get into these games, which makes the atmosphere exciting for these high school games.
The Tacoma Dome is not very hard to get to from anywhere. When you are driving south on I-5, it is the first thing you see as you get to Tacoma. From the north, you just follow the signs to the dome and once you exit the freeway, it is right there.
If you are taking public transportation, the Sounder station is no more than two blocks away from the stadium, which makes for easy access to the Tacoma Dome. If you end up driving, parking is usually $10 and surrounds the entire venue, which makes it easy to park as well. If you are coming from downtown Tacoma, it is about a 15 minute walk. I would recommend driving from there as you probably won't want to be walking around there too much.
This is a very fun event to attend. The games start early in the morning around 9:00 a.m. and end around 10:30 p.m. which makes for a full day of basketball. Admission is $12 and you can leave and come back with a ticket stub and a stamp. If you are planning on coming back for all three days, you can buy a 3-day pass that will be a good move financially. The basketball you see is the best in the state. If you are a high school basketball fan, then I highly recommend this event.
There is a program for sale, although at $7 it seems overly expensive and wasn't worth it to me. It may make for a good keepsake if you are there to watch a family member.
There is state tournament gear on sale if you are interested in buying some Hardwood Classic apparel.
There isn't much more that the Tacoma Dome has to offer. It is a pretty bland arena that badly needs a facelift. It is a big space that is good for concerts and events like that, but playing basketball in this venue just isn't quite right. Still, the Hardwood Classic is a worthwhile event for basketball fans because of the overall value to see so many games.
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2611 East E St
Tacoma, WA 98421