Allen Arena – Lipscomb Bisons
Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Allen Arena 401 Granny Pike Dr Nashville, TN 37204
Year Opened: 2001
Allen Arena – Lipscomb University
While Nashville might best be known for its nightlife and country music scene, tucked away in the quiet Green Hills neighborhood is the campus of the Lipscomb University Bisons. Opened in 2001, basketball at Allen Arena started with a bang, as the inaugural game was won on a half-court shot as time expired.
Home to the men’s and women’s basketball teams, Allen Arena is also shared with the women’s volleyball program, which all compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Food & Beverage 2
Allen Arena features one small concessions stand in the main lobby. While there are a limited number of options, the prices are very reasonable – fans can choose from nachos ($4), slices of pizza ($3), popcorn ($3), candy ($2) and a wide variety of Coca-Cola beverages ($3). Lipscomb has chosen not to sell alcohol at its games.
Food at Allen Arena does not provide much when it comes to choices, but it is enough to tide you over until you can grab something more substantial after the game.
Allen Arena is a modern looking facility; the school’s purple and gold colors adorn the windows of the main entrance. A smaller version of the nearby Allen clock tower has been incorporated into the arena's entrance architecture.
Unlike many college basketball arenas, Allen Arena does not have an overhead scoreboard; rather scoreboards are placed in the four corners. Each end of the arena does have a video board, which seem intended to show a live feed of the game, but mostly reads “Lippy” in script lettering.
The Lipscomb cheer squad puts in a lot of work during timeouts. Hardly a break in the action goes by when they are not either involved in one of the several raffles, or performing a routine before the ball is put back in play. The school mascot, Lou Bison, is present and active during the timeout promotions, but primarily sticks to the baseline area with the cheer squad.
Attendance at Lipscomb is rather hit-or-miss. Games such as homecoming or the “Battle of the Boulevard”, with intercity rival Belmont University, are highly attended games – close to the 5,000 fan capacity of Allen Arena. On the other hand, most other games are lightly attended, with crowds of less than a couple thousand.
Lipscomb is in the Green Hills neighborhood of Nashville, one of the city's most popular neighborhoods. The campus is surrounded by many large, residential homes.
The Green Hills Shopping Mall is within 2 miles of the Lipscomb campus and has an extensive number of restaurants. One of the highlights is Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, a Nashville staple.
Fans coming to town for an extended stay can find several other sporting options to pair with a game at Lipscomb. Three D-1 college basketball programs, Vanderbilt, Belmont, and Tennessee State can all be found around the city. Professional sporting teams in season include the Nashville Predators in the city’s entertainment district, and the Tennessee Titans, who are just across the Cumberland River from downtown Nashville.
Sustainability of basketball attendance at Lipscomb seems to be a bit of a challenge. While the high interest games mentioned, homecoming and the rivalry game with Belmont, do have near capacity crowds, the announced attendances for most games sit in the high thousand to low two thousand.
The bench side of the stands is comprised mostly of alumni who are content in watching the game. They typically only get excited during good basketball plays or questionable officiating; it is not that they are silent, but it seems to be in more an appreciation of the game than being boisterous fans.
The student section is comprised of approximately 200 students who populate one of the sections across from the visiting team’s bench. Other than a handful of exuberant attendees, the overall interest in the game seemed to be a bit waning.
The most direct access to Lipscomb is via Interstate-65 from the north or south, or from the I-440 bypass if approaching from the east, west, or from Interstate-24 (toward Murfreesboro). The campus is within 2 miles of both highways. Given that Lipscomb is in a large city, gridlock on the highway is always a concern when it comes to weekday games.
Once on campus parking can be a bit confusing to locate – the team’s website does not provide specific parking information. The East Deck is closest to Allen Arena, and is accessible via the secondary entrance to the campus off Granny White Pike. This deck is a bit inconvenient in that there is no way inside the deck to go to the next level up if the current level is full. The west deck is also an option, but requires entrance via Belmont Boulevard.
The primary entry point into Allen Arena is at the front of the building. Once through the doors, fans enter the lobby to face a wall of trophy cases featuring the accomplishments of each of Lipscomb’s athletics programs. To the right fans will find the Lipscomb Athletics Hall of Fame, while most general admission seating is to the left.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to Lipscomb basketball games are rather inexpensive; prices start at $10 for general admission seats, while reserved seating goes for $15, with some nights offering special promotions. The Nashville Night promotion offers general admission tickets for $6.15 in representation of Nashville’s area code, for example. Paired with free parking and inexpensive food options at the concessions stand, Lipscomb offers a very well-priced basketball experience.
Lipscomb does offer a Junior Bison Club that includes free admission for children to all Lipscomb athletic events for the academic year.
Overall, Lipscomb does offer very reasonable prices, and does make it affordable for families to attend games.
The trophy cases in the main lobby do an excellent job highlighting the accomplishments of Lipscomb from their journey between NAIA and NCAA. A good accompaniment to the trophies won are the Hall of Fame plaques dating back to 1986. The hall of fame is very thorough in recognizing those who have left their mark on Lipscomb athletics.
Adults bringing younger fans to the game will be pleased to know Lipscomb has kept them in mind. It might be a bit unrealistic to think young children could sustain their attention for the entire game, so to help provide a break for younger Bisons fans, there is a bounce house and balloon artists to help keep them entertained, when staying in their seat becomes too much.
Lipscomb does a lot to make children part of the in-game entertainment. One of the big thrills for kids in attendance is when they are called to the court to help the cheer squad with the t-shirt toss. Lipscomb does a lot to make the game a memorable experience for its younger fans.
While Lipscomb basketball games do not have the high intensity atmospheres found at some universities, there definitely is thought put in to making the game an enjoyable experience for the entire family.
While a game at Lipscomb’s Allen Arena might not be a destination stop, it can be a decent complement to any visit to Nashville.