Arena-Auditorium – Wyoming Cowboys
Photos by Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Arena-Auditorium 1000 E University Ave Laramie, WY 82071
Year Opened: 1982
Welcome to 7,220 Feet
Arena-Auditorium might be the simplest name of any venue in college sports, but it is definitely not a simple place. Located on the campus of the University of Wyoming in Laramie, the AA is the highest home court in NCAA Division I basketball at 7,220 feet above sea level, more than 2,000 feet higher than the Pit at the University of New Mexico. As well, it is a geodesic dome, a rarity in all sports, leading to another nickname, The Dome of Doom.
Over the past few years, the AA has undergone an extensive renovation project, which has modernized the venue with a new entrance, new seats, new scoreboards, and new sound system among other additions. These changes have made the AA a prime college basketball destination.
Food & Beverage 3
There are several concession stands dotted around the concourse, though many were closed on the day we attended, likely due to the winter storm passing through the area. There are two concessions that stand out in the building. The first is Doc’s Mexican Food, where a burrito will set you back $9.75, the same price as a Super Nacho and a Taco Salad. A Jackalope Taco is $7.75. The other stand that caught our eyes was Pistol’s, where a Chugwater Chili Cup is $4, a Guinness Brat is $4.75, and wings are $5.25.
Your typical stadium fare is available everywhere, with popcorn going for $4, while caramel corn and cotton candy will set you back a fiver. Pepsi products are sold here, a small soda sells for $3.75, while a regular one is only 50 cents more. A souvenir cup is $6, while a bottle of water is $3.25. Despite being a campus venue, beer is sold here, with craft beers running $8. Overall, a decent variety at reasonable prices.
Once inside, take the time to walk around the concourse and have a look at all the history here. Accomplishments are divided into decades, and there is even space for the future, up to 2039. The school has had a lot of success, including the 1943 national championship in basketball. There is also an area dedicated to Kenny Sailors, who developed the jump shot.
The circular seating bowl has two levels: a lower level of gold seats, and an upper level of brown, gold, and brown. School colors, if you haven’t guessed, are brown and gold. A walkway bisects these levels, but few fans use it during the game, so there is no worry about sitting in the first row of the second level.
Because the seating bowl is in a circle, the first row near midcourt is not that close to the action. As well, the angle there is not the best; you would probably prefer being in row 10 or so if you want a full view of the game.
Banners hang from a ring that hangs from the roof of the dome. There are two high-resolution video boards, one at each end of the facility. UW uses these video boards to show live action, along with a scoreboard, clock, and in-game box score.
Whenever a 3-point goal is scored, t-shirts are tossed into the crowd.
The AA is in the middle of campus, next to War Memorial Stadium. Cutting through this (if it is open) brings you to Grand Street, where a couple of eateries can be found. First is Niko Steak and Sushi for those with a hankering for some Asian cuisine (I recommend the spicy tuna roll), while a couple of doors down is O’Dwyers Public House. The Black Kilt is a sandwich shop between the two that is a better bet than Subway. Other fast food chains can be found here, but you would probably want to drive.
Downtown has several good options. Altitude Chophouse and Brewery offers steaks and beers brewed on site. For those who aren’t carnivores, Sweet Melissa Cafe has a wide variety of vegetarian soups, salads, and sandwiches.
Laramie is an excellent starting point for those who enjoy the outdoors. The Medicine Bow National Forest surrounds Laramie and provides nearly 2.9 million acres of terrain ranging in altitude from 5,500 feet to 12,940 feet. Visitors can enjoy hiking, sightseeing, hunting, fishing, and mountain biking. Similarly, the Vedauwoo Recreation Area features rock formations that lure rock climbers of all experience levels.
Several national chains have hotels within two miles of the AA, primarily on Grand Avenue and along Interstate 80. The Hilton Garden Inn is the closest hotel to the AA, with rooms starting at $109 per night. The Hampton Inn is among the first hotels in town as fans enter Laramie from the east.
The game we attended during the peak of a winter storm that struck southeastern Wyoming certainly had an effect on attendance. With a capacity of 15,028, a crowd of 3,000 just isn’t enough to make a difference. When Wyoming came back late to make it close, the crowd finally showed some life, but until then, they were rather uninvolved.
The AA is easy to reach by car, as I-80 brings you onto Grand Street, from where you can enter campus on 22nd Street. Free parking can be found in a lot just west of the venue on Willet Avenue. Once inside, the concourse has sufficient room to move about; the seating sections are easily identified and easy to find. Note that some portals honor Wyoming’s natural monuments such as Devil’s Tower. The concourse is sufficiently wide for the small crowd, while restrooms are spacious and clean.
Return on Investment 4
A seat in the lower bowl is $20, while the upper level is $15. A reasonable price to spend some time in this type of venue. With parking free and food not outrageously priced, you can enjoy the game for $30 or less.
This is where Arena-Auditorium really shines. Starting with the large poles out front that say Welcome to 7,220’ and Dome of Doom, to the history along the walls of the concourse. Add the 1943 championship trophy, three other trophies, a statue for Kenny Sailors, the incredible roof, and Pistol Pete, the mascot, and you should have enough reason to visit here without even thinking about the game.
Laramie is not an easy destination to reach, but Arena-Auditorium is definitely worth a visit. The history on display is fantastic and educational, while the building itself is unique in many ways. Just try to go when there isn’t a snowstorm passing through.