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Official Review by Conrad Klank, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Located just southwest of downtown Dayton, Ohio, a gem of a college basketball arena can be found. Within this arena one will find some of the most passionate, dedicated students, alumni, and fans for a venue of its kind.
Dayton historically is a sports-loving city. During the summer it's Dayton Dragons baseball at Fifth Third Field, and naturally in the winter it's Dayton Flyers basketball at UD Arena. Proof that the natives of this city love these two institutions would be the attendance numbers at each. Fifth Third Field currently holds the longest sellout streak of any professional sports venue and UD Arena prides itself that they annually rank in the top 25 in terms of attendance in all of NCAA basketball not to mention that the arena has played host to the first and second rounds of the year end NCAA tournament a number of times. These stats don't happen on accident; read on to find out what makes UD Arena so special.
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".
The cuisine at UD Arena is all around excellent. From selection, to placement, to service it's simply done right.
There are general concession stands located on the concourse behind the end line and an additional three unique windows beneath the 300 level seating on the sides. In addition to the concessions there are beers of the world carts, Dip-N-Dots Ice Cream, and local roasted almond vendors. The concessions not only serve the traditional stadium fare, but also Donato's Pizza, Lee's famous recipe Chicken, and local favorite: Esther Price Chocolates.
One thing that earns the arena the high score in this section is the selection of beer and the "Beer Only" lines. You will especially appreciate this feature when it's halftime and all you want is a beer but there are long lines for food service.
Certain tickets allow fans access to the two luxury restaurant/lounges upstairs. One side is an upscale restaurant and the other (Time Warner Flight Deck) is a sports bar atmosphere with a full bar and finger foods. If you are lucky enough to have a ticket with access, take advantage of the restaurant before the game and the Flight Deck after for post-game drinks and game wrap up show with the head coach. But be sure to get there early as spots fill up fast for dinner service.
The atmosphere in UD Arena is very impressive but has not come easily. Within the past fifteen years the university has invested a lot of money remodeling and revamping this historical arena. To their credit, the arena hasn't lost a bit of the traditional feel, in fact, if anything, it may have gained additional atmosphere points. Not only are there signs and banners representing the accomplishments of the men's basketball program, but also other athletic programs are well represented with symbols of achievement. Throughout the arena one will find examples of history and school spirit, represented by murals and university colors high and low at every turn.
While the neighborhood may not be a pleasant walk from the arena, it still deserves high marks because of the quality and variety. A five-minute drive on Stewart Street is all it takes to get to Brown Street where an impressive selection of restaurants and bars of all kinds may be found.
On your way to Brown you will see a small bar named Flannigan's, which is a spirited post game basketball hangout featuring the post game wrap up with the radio commentators. If you take a right on to Brown and travel a couple of blocks you will find two Dayton classics: The Pine Club and Milano's, both of which are typical pre-game dinner favorites. The Pine Club is a nationally renowned steak house and Milano's is an Atlantic submarine style restaurant. A left on to Brown Street from Stewart will take you to the University Commons, which is a very populated restaurant area with tons of chain restaurant options. One of which, that is more of a regional favorite is Dewey's Pizza, where one will find very unique pizza options made from scratch. Dewey's is another pre or post-game meal option where you'll be sure to be accompanied by many other basketball fans. Just a couple blocks farther North on Brown Street you will find the newest favorite of Dayton in Ladder 11. This is a renovated firehouse turned into a classy pub and restaurant.
Despite thoughts that Dayton is a small city, there are more than enough options for food and beverage before and after the game at UD Arena.
With the impressive attendance numbers at UD Arena, logically the crowd creates an intense atmosphere and fan base. A lot of times one will find a crowd of unintelligent, unexcitable basketball fans, but this place on the other hand, is a gathering of experienced and seasoned basketball enthusiasts who would have no problem explaining the rules and how the refs screwed up various calls. This doesn't even include the students.
The UD student section known as the "Red Scare" has a deep reputation for being an extremely loud and rambunctious crew who trek across the bridge to every home game, rain, snow, or shine. The students have every chant down pat from beginning to end all led by band director, Dr. Willie Morris. Students and fans alike get especially fired up when the game opens with the national anthem performed by Dr. Morris and his trumpet while outfitted in his custom UD light up tracksuit. Be sure to look for other trademark fans such as the Burger King, the Red and Blue Wigs and Suits, and most famous of all, the legendary towel guy who makes celebrity appearances at halftime every blue moon.
Conveniently found in central Dayton and right off of one of America's busiest thoroughfares in Interstate 75, the University of Dayton Arena is a very accessible venue. The ever-growing UD athletic complexes off of Edwin C Moses Boulevard have tremendous overall accessibility and parking. The arena itself is surrounded by the four main permit lots: A, B, C, and D and additional general overflow parking ($3) is located at the Marriott Hotel with a shuttle making runs between the lot and arena starting one hour before tipoff. This makes any parking at the arena an easy and inexpensive task. Check the Parking Map before going so you are fully acquainted with your options.
Once you make it into the arena you'll be pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to get around. While the arena is large in capacity, it has a small, easy, user-friendly feel. Restrooms sometimes get expectedly backed up at halftime and directly after the game but lines move quickly and you'll be pleased with the cleanliness. Good luck finding a comparable concourse as nice as this one.
For the experience you will receive at UD Arena you'll be hard pressed to find a similar big time show at such a reasonable cost. To start, ticket prices are extremely cheap priced anywhere from $9-$20. One is also able to get a beer, sandwich, and snack for under $15, which is typically a good goal to shoot for. Overall this is a very reasonable entertainment cost that should be a definite addition to one's budget.
In 2002 UD Arena was home to ESPN's first ever high definition television broadcast.
The four large LCD video boards in each corner of the arena deserve an extra credit point. Just one more example of how this arena has kept its tradition but has continued to update it as well.
The creativity and personality of the UD student section, Red Scare, warrants an extra point. Not only are they sarcastic and witty, but also embody the attitude of the religious university they represent.
Given the amount of history and talent that has gone through this mid-major school it's no wonder why people seem to gravitate to toward UD Arena, which makes it an absolute institution in this city. The University of Dayton Arena is an exceptional example of what can be accomplished with the combination of tradition, school spirit, and modernized aspects of a historical building.
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101 E Stewart St
Dayton, OH 45409
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Dayton, OH 45409
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