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  • Writer's pictureEric Moreno

Bert Ogden Arena - Rio Grande Valley Vipers



Photo by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Bert Ogden Arena 4900 S, I-69C Edinburg, TX 78539

Year Opened: 2018 Capacity: 7,688

 

Bert Ogden Arena - The Rio Grande Valley Vipers Nest

The 2019-20 season marks the 13th that the Rio Grande Valley Vipers have played as members of the NBA G League. As affiliates of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, the Vipers have had a pretty good run of success down in the southern-most part of Texas. Since their founding, the Vipers have captured five Conference titles, three Division titles, and three G League Championships.


Since 2018, the Vipers have called Bert Ogden Arena their home. Located in Edinburg, Texas, the arena is state-of-the-art and is the crown jewel of sports venues in the Rio Grande Valley. With seating of nearly 7,700 (though it can be expanded to 9,000 for certain events), the arena sports a 40-foot-by-20-foot LED video scoreboard, which is the largest in South Texas.


When not in use by the Vipers, the arena plays host to some of the biggest acts to tour in this part of the country, including musical stars Jennifer Lopez, Cher, and Marc Anthony, as well as events such as WWE and the Harlem Globetrotters. The community has embraced the Vipers and are – understandably – incredibly proud of Bert Ogden Arena. After my visit, I can easily understand why.


Food & Beverage 4

One of the things you will notice on your visit to take in a Vipers game is that all the concessions areas are on the main concourse. All the standard stands offer your traditional stadium fare: popcorn, hot dogs, nachos, soda, bottled water, etc.


They also offer the unique combo menus that their parent club, the Houston Rockets, offer. The all-in-one combo cups feature a large souvenir cup topped with a bowl filled with either nachos (try the Valley favorite topped with Hot Cheetos), a hot dog, French fries, or hot wings for $11-$15 depending on your order.

Fuddrucker’s Burgers also offers a pared-down menu including a two-foot Monster Dog ($15) and the World’s Greatest Hamburger ($8). There are also deep-fried Oreos ($5), a Hot Cheeto-topped burger ($8), loaded tater tots ($6), deep-fried corn on the cob ($5), and a souvenir, bottomless bucket of popcorn ($18) offered at these stands.


In terms of local favorites, there are stands for Taco Palenque (I highly recommend the pirata taco – a beef fajita taco topped with shredded cheese and refried beans at $5), Il Forno (pizza), and Kumori (sushi). For thirsty adults, the Budlight Zone, Buddy V’s Cadillac Bar, and Viper’s Den are all open throughout the game and offer bottled and draft beers as well as cocktails and well drinks. Drink costs range from $3 bottled waters to $20 for double shots of liquor; a 16-ounce beer will run you $6 and a frozen margarita is $5.


One pretty neat innovation to keep in mind is the Fanfood app that visitors can download to their mobile devices. This app allows attendees to order their food from their seats and have it ready for pickup at designated windows on the main concourse. This has helped cut down on wait times at concessions windows, and helps fans cut down on missed game action.


Atmosphere 3

You can still feel the newness at Bert Ogden Arena; it still has that new stadium vibe and feel to it and that’s a good thing. The arena is configured into a traditional horseshoe shape, with fan seating on the lower bowl, main concourse level, and second floor. The third is reserved for suites. The baseline opposite the main entrance is set up for table-style seating and is known as the Baseline Zone. It is complete with table-side service and offers great views of the action on the court.


The lower deck, as befitting of a seat in that area, offers plush, leather-like stadium chairs and unobstructed views of the court along both sideline areas. These are very nice seats and I would recommend them if you’re planning a visit.


The Vipers feature both a dance team, the Snake Charmers, and an entertainment crew, the Venom Hype Squad. They perform during breaks in the game and also at halftime. The Vipers also have their mascot, Fang, patrolling the arena and interacting with fans. Also adding to the atmosphere are the three championship banners the Vipers proudly hang from the rafters. This is a proud franchise in a proud community, and it shows in every detail in Bert Ogden Arena.


Neighborhood 2

The McAllen-Edinburg-Pharr-Mission metropolitan area is the fifth-largest such area in Texas and is by far its southern-most. It is also made up of nearly two dozen communities spread out over much of Hidalgo County, with Edinburg being the second-largest behind McAllen.


Bert Ogden Arena is located right alongside Interstate 69 C, which makes it very convenient to visitors. This, however, is both a plus and a minus, as it is convenient to drive to, but in no way should anyway try to walk there. Also, being alongside the highway precludes it from being a part of any real neighborhood, and also limits what you can do immediately before and after Rio Grande Valley Vipers games.


In terms of dining options, there are tons all up and down the highway in the immediate vicinity of the arena. If you’re looking for the familiar, IHOP, Subway, and Burger King are all within eyesight of the parking lot. However, if you want to try some of the true local flavor, that means Mexican food and Treviños Retaurant and Delia’s Tamales – street tacos at Treviños and, naturally, the tamales at Delia’s are true fan favorites and draw diners from miles around.


If you’re in town for a game during the later part of spring, the Vipers schedule usually overlaps with another of the Valley’s pro sports teams, the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros of the United Soccer League. HEB Park, home of the Toros, is a short six-minute drive from Bert Ogden Arena, so if you stay in the area, you might get the chance to catch two games in Edinburg.


If you’re looking for something different, I recommend taking in some culture at the Museum of South Texas History. This museum truly digs deeply into the rich history of the region, going back to prehistoric times and up until now with its complex geopolitical landscape exhibit. It is open Tuesday through Sunday until 5 pm, and at $9 a person for adults and $5 for kids under 12 it is a real bargain.


Being along a major interstate highway does have its ups and downs. In terms of places to stay, there are truly a lot of options that are all within a short distance of Bert Ogden Arena, but none are truly within safe walking distance. Your closest option is going to be TownePlace Suites by Marriott McAllen Edinburg, which is just five minutes away. If you’re looking for something a little more budget-friendly, Tru by Hilton Edinburg is also five minutes away.


Fans 4

The Rio Grande Valley Vipers are consistently ranked among the highest attended teams in all of the G League. Being basically the only game in town has helped make the club truly the “thing to do” in the Valley, and fans have embraced their club with open arms.


Anecdotally speaking, at the game I most recently attended, fans were already at the arena hours before the game and virtually everyone was decked out in red Vipers gear of some kind. The crowd was truly on the verge of being deafening at points in the game. While the concourse is always busy with fans running out to get refreshments and grub, there wasn’t a point where I felt the stadium was empty – these are good fans and they really love their team.


Access 3

Getting to Bert Ogden Arena by car is no trouble at all. It can be seen from quite a distance away on the highway, and there is really good signage marking how to get there. Once on site, parking is ample and free.

Navigating around the facility itself is also really simple. There is only the one main concourse to walk around and stairs take you up and down inside the bowls to the seats (there are private escalators and elevators taking guests up to their suites on the third floor, however).


Where the drawbacks do come into play is in the area of public transportation, as the bus service in the city does not make a stop at Bert Ogden Arena. There are Uber, Lyft, and traditional taxi options though, if you choose to go that route.


In terms of actually getting to Edinburg, that can be a task. The McAllen-Edinburg-Pharr-Mission area is roughly a four-hour drive from San Antonio, which is the nearest large city nearby to speak of. However, the McAllen International Airport does feature daily flights to and from Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Mexico City. With that in mind, you should be able to take a connecting flight from anywhere else in the country to visit the area.


Return on Investment 3

From my experience, what fans can expect when they take in a Rio Grande Valley Vipers game at Bert Ogden Arena is pretty typical of what they will find at other G League games and facilities in terms of cost. Tickets for games range from $12 to $55, depending on where you want to sit, and concessions are pretty much on par with other stadiums at this level of pro sports.


Extras 3

Aside from its aesthetics and the bonus of free parking, Bert Ogden Arena offers pretty much the standard in terms of Extras for minor league sports. The main concourse is littered with vendors and games where fans can win free swag and sign up for new services.


The main draw in terms of Extras has to be the Lil’ Dribblers Zone located behind the Baseline Zone. This kids only area has tables for young ones to color and draw, face painting, and inflatable play areas for young ones to keep them occupied from opening tipoff to the start of the fourth quarter. It is completely supervised, but parents and guardians are allowed to be back there while their kids take a break from the on-court action.


Final Thoughts

I was truly impressed with the facilities that the Rio Grande Valley Vipers have to offer their fans. While I wouldn’t count Bert Ogden Arena as a bucket list stop, I would put it at the top of the list of things people visiting the RGV should do on their visit – it has the look, feel, and vibe of a big-time basketball arena. I think anyone who takes in a game at Bert Ogden Arena will feel exactly the same.


Follow Eric Moreno’s Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477. Visit Eric Moreno’s writer’s portfolio site at ericmoreno.contently.com.




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