Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
APG Federal Credit Union Arena 401 Thomas Run Rd Bel Air, MD 21015
Year Opened: 2012
Home Of The Fighting Owl
Harford Community College is located in Bel Air, MD, roughly in between Baltimore and the Delaware state line. It was founded in September 1957 as the “Harford Junior College.” In 1971 the name was changed to its current college designation.
The Harford Fighting Owls play in NJCAA Division I, the highest athletic level for 2-year colleges, and are a part of the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference. Having played in the antiquated Susquehanna Center gym since its 1968 opening, Harford wanted to update its facilities. So in 2011, the college began an extensive remodel of the facility. As part of the remodel was the addition of this 2,552-seat arena.
Aberdeen Proving Grounds Federal Credit Union provided sponsorship in another surprising turn for this community college building. While sponsorships are the norm nowadays in the stadium world, a sponsor program for a small 2-year college building is pretty new on the landscape. The name is often shortened to the equally hard-to-say APGFCU Arena.
The arena opened in late 2012 for the men’s and women’s basketball season, as well as a performance of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Food & Beverage 2
There is a basic concession stand offering a small array of foods at a decent price. The arena does have a liquor license, but they will not sell those products during college basketball games. It is nice that there are some soda machines around the arena.
To be honest, the fan atmosphere is not very impressive. A community college audience gets a lot of family members and a few interested community members, but very few students.
The arena staff may try to engage the fans with interactive games and giveaways. It is a basic atmosphere but fair for this level of play.
Harford Community College is in a suburban location and has plenty of free parking. The area is safe and has many restaurants nearby. Naughty Dogs is within walking distance and has a fun, cheap bar for pre and post-game refreshments, along with food such as pit beef. JD’s Smokehouse located across the street provides another option for food and drinks and some pretty good barbecue. If you are in the mood for Mexican, La Tolteca is located just a brief distance away and is a consistently good food place.
Travel into Bel Air and there are multiple chain and local options. There are numerous options, such as MaGerks Pub & Grill, around the area. A quick drive in the other direction is Aberdeen. Olive Tree is a better version of a well-known Italian chain, while Mamie’s Cafe with Love is an old-school Baltimore-style restaurant that offers free desserts with all meals. Super Chicken Rico is another choice with which you can’t go wrong.
Venture into nearby Havre de Grace, and the options expand dramatically. Try the Tidewater Grille and Vineyard Wines. Washington Street Books and Bahoukas Beer MuZeum are all interesting shopping options in this quaint waterfront town. If you do go to Havre de Grace, make sure to stop at the elegant Concord Point Lighthouse.
The team mascot, Screech The Owl, may also be in attendance and tries to get the crowd fired up. A community college audience gets a lot of family members and a few interested community members, but very few students.
Harford is located just a few miles off of I-95, one of the largest highways in the northeast. But State Route 22 can be very crowded with commuters traveling between Aberdeen Proving Grounds (APG) and central Harford County. APG has become a very large Army base after the last round of federal base realignment and closure activities. So leave some extra time getting to APGFCU Arena.
Towson University in Northeastern Maryland is an extension campus of the well-established state university that is located across from the Harford campus.
Return on Investment 4
APGFCU Arena is noted as being the largest arena in northeast Maryland. That is a somewhat silly pronouncement with Maryland being a relatively small state. But the arena is already seeing its schedule filled with various events and concerts. Basketball crowds will not be its bread and butter alone.
The general admissions seats are the best value and are priced fairly. Most games are doubleheaders with the men’s and women’s teams so that adds to the value.
The arena staff does do a good job of promotions. They treat your experience here as if you are at a major college. It would be very easy to not do this with the small crowd, but they never give up.
The Chesapeake Center is the name for the rest of the building that the APG Federal Credit Union Arena is connected to. Check out the rest of this facility, as the 2011-2012 renovation changed the look and feel of this building dramatically.
The rest of the Harford Community College campus is worth taking a look at. The college has added buildings and facilities numerous times over the past 15 years. A small rural college is now a major suburban educational institution.
This is a pretty impressive facility for a community college. It will be interesting to see if other colleges of this size try to follow suit.
The product on the court is pretty good, especially the high-scoring women’s team and the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference offers some good and quality competition. Just don’t expect to see the largest crowds around, as that is not likely to change any time soon, even with a fine facility.