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Official Review by Josh Verlin, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Located about 20 minutes from downtown Baltimore, Towson University is a public school home to 18,000 undergraduate students who support their Tigers as they compete in the Colonial Athletic Association. Towson is currently building a brand-new basketball stadium, SECU Arena, which is scheduled to open in time for the 2013–14 season, but for now the team plays in the 5,200-seat Towson Center, which originally opened in 1976. Right now, Towson’s stadium mirrors the on-court product (mostly poor), but with a number of positive signs around the program, look for Towson to make some noises over the next two years.
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".
Like many small stadiums, Towson Center has just one concession stand, and that can make for quite a line at halftime. By the time I got out to the concourse (just two minutes into halftime) there was already quite a line - and that was for a game with about 1,500 people in attendance, not nearly full capacity.
The prices aren't too bad, with a bag of chips a very reasonable $1, though soda and bottled water at $2.50 is a little pricy, especially considering nobody checks your bag when you enter the stadium. More filling options include a hot dog ($3.50) and nachos w/ cheese ($3.75, with extra cheese for 75 cents), soft pretzels ($2.75) and popcorn ($2.25).
There really isn't much atmosphere at Towson Center, though the Towson pep band wasn't half bad. The 2011-12 Towson team is comprised mostly of freshman, transfers, and walk-ons, and to say it's been a rough year to watch would be an understatement. The Tigers haven't had a winning season since 1995-96, and the atmosphere pretty much mirrors those expectations.
The closest thing to the stadium is the hospital across the street, which I don't think is where most people would want to go for either a pre- or post-game meal. About two miles from the stadium is the Towson Town Center (not to be confused with the Towson Center), the largest indoor mall in Baltimore County and home to plenty of chain restaurants like Cheescake Factory, P.F. Chang's, and T.G.I. Friday's.
I'll give a shoutout here to the Towson band, which also doubled as the Towson student section and cheering section. The crowd was largely apathetic, which I guess is what you ask for with a team that came into the game I saw with a record of just 1-24. Despite the Tigers hanging with conference leader Drexel for the entire game, the crowd wasn't anything even approaching "loud" until about three minutes remained in the entire game.
It was a little bit tough to find Towson, at least the way my GPS took me off Interstate 695. I ended up driving through a hospital parking lot, and eventually found the stadium by following other cars, so be aware if you have a GPS that is six years old like mine is. Other than that, parking is free and there are no stairs necessary to get into the stadium, so handicap access is extremely easy. The bathrooms are in decent shape for a 30 year-old stadium.
Adult tickets are just $12 through the box office (or $15 online - don't bother), and children ages 2-12 are just $8, so a family of four can go see a game for $38 in ticket prices. There really aren't any bad seats in the small gym, though about half of the sections are set aside for either students or people who have made either a $100 or $250 donation to the Tiger Club. Playing in the CAA means there are a decent number of good opponents, including Drexel, Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason, the latter two having Final Four runs in recent years. With a team that should be improved in 2012-13, the RoI should bump up to at least a three-star experience in the final season at Towson Center.
The Towson dance team was very talented, and put on one of the few timeout dance routines that actually had me watching for something other than the uniforms the cheerleaders were wearing. The other extra point comes from Tigers Athletic Director Mike Waddell, who is probably worth more than one point as this school's review is going to be quite different two years from now. The Tigers have one of the better non-BCS recruiting classes in the country coming in next year, and when they open Tiger Arena in 2013, the Towson Tigers could be a 20-win squad.
Member Review by mmspatz on Jan 04, 2013
The good news is that a new facility is coming. I'll shamelessly plug my SJ article of the new Tiger Arena.
As I said in the article it's been years since I've been here but Josh's assessment seems very similar to my trip. The band was great but every other part of the experience was lacking. They try to get the fans involved but it's hard with the turnout. I think the state of MD does want another team that it can get behind besides the Terps. Hopefully the new Tiger Arena opening in 2013 will bring a surge for the Tigers next year that lasts for a while.
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