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Official Review by Paul Derrick, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Nestled away in the Piney Woods of east Texas is a town called Nacogdoches, which is the home of the Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks. Stephen F Austin University is of course named after one of Texas's founding fathers, Stephen F Austin (the namesake of the state capital). On campus you will find William R. Johnson Coliseum which is home to the Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks basketball team. Built in 1974, the coliseum seats 7,203 fans. The Lumberjacks are a member of the Southland conference and most recently made the NCAA tournament back in 2009 losing to Syracuse in the first round.
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The William Johnson Coliseum has all of your basic food items covered at its lone concession stand. Due to there only being one concession stand available though you can at times expect to stand in line if you hit the stand at the wrong time. The concession stand offers hot dogs, chili dogs, fries, chips, nachos, candy, popcorn and pretzels as well as sausages. For drink options they have 20 oz Coca-Cola products and water all for a reasonable $3. Overall there are not the best of selections but the prices are more than fair so very little room to complain here.
The Lumberjacks have done a great job of providing a great atmosphere for college basketball. Interestingly enough they place the student section directly behind the opposing team's bench, which makes for not only a hard time for opposing teams, but a great view for the students.
William Johnson Coliseum is littered throughout with Lumberjack memorabilia and remnants of teams and players of the past. You can see banners of ex Lumberjack and Ladyjack teams that have been conference champions, hanging from the rafters. Make sure when heading to the ticket counter that you bring cash as the ticket office does not take any form of debit or credit cards. This made for an unpleasant walk to an ATM. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised for a school this small to have such a great college basketball atmosphere.
Unfortunately Nacogdoches isn't one of the bigger cities in Texas with a population just under 33,000 people. There are not a whole lot of options for places to eat or hang out. There are plenty of fast food and chain restaurants, if that is what floats your boat. As far as non-chain restaurants, the only one I found that wasn't 15 miles from the Coliseum and was decent was Clear Springs Restaurant.
Clear Springs Restaurant is about equivalent to either a Chili's or Applebee's offering a variety of different dishes from steaks to seafood grill dishes. The prices weren't bad and the food was decent, I would recommend the Firecracker Salmon which was grilled salmon with a jalapeno glaze.
I'll start with the student section as they were great. The students did a wonderful job with their chants and causing a nuisance to the opposing team. As for the other fans in attendance, most were either older alumni or faculty and even though they weren't as crazy as the students, they were still in touch with the game applauding when need be and joining in with the cheered chants. The fans are exactly what you would expect from a smaller university like Stephen F Austin. They are into the game and can get loud at times but nothing too over the top.
The access to William Johnson Coliseum is one of the best I have ever experienced at the college basketball level. There is a huge open parking lot across from the arena and parking is free. The huge parking lot across form the Coliseum in turn makes for an easy entrance and exit from the game. There are crossing guards located on the street between the arena and lot to make getting across easier as this is one of the busier streets on campus. The concourses are open and wide so even when you are walking around the arena you can still keep an eye on the game. The bathrooms were clean and I never noticed a line, even during halftime intermission.
Tickets range from $7 for adults to $4 for kids aged 9-18. All kids under the age of 9 are admitted free into William Johnson Coliseum. With food prices more than manageable and tickets prices as low as this, a trip to William Johnson is more than manageable. The Lumberjacks are doing a great job of not only providing a great atmosphere for college basketball, but making it affordable for the whole family to go.
One free point goes to free parking, in today's economic world this is always a plus.
Another point goes to the Lumberjacks for the great job on their murals and commemorations of former teams and players that have made their way through the university.
My last extra point goes to the cheerleading squad, who not only is one of the best in Texas but has won many awards nationally for their cheering.
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