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  • Michael Davis

Bud Walton Arena – Arkansas Razorbacks

Photos by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Bud Walton Arena 1270 W Leroy Pond Dr. Fayetteville, AR 72701

Arkansas Razorbacks website

Bud Walton Arena website

Year Opened: 1993

Capacity: 19,368


Razorbacks Basketball at Bud Walton Arena

Bud Walton Arena is home to the University of Arkansas Razorbacks men’s basketball program. The venue is celebrating its 25th anniversary during the 2018-19 basketball season. Bud Walton Arena is also known as The Basketball Palace of Mid-America and replaced Barnhill Arena on November 29, 1993.

The Arkansas men’s basketball team broke the new arena in with an undefeated home season while winning the 1993-94 NCAA National Championship. There are plenty of highlights to relive that glorious season in the Bud Walton Arena Razorbacks Sports Museum on the ground level. This museum contains items on the history of Razorbacks basketball, track, and field, baseball, tennis, and golf.

Bud Walton Arena is named after James “Bud” Walton, co-founder of Walmart, who donated about half of the construction cost for the facility in conjunction with the Razorbacks move to the Southeastern Conference. The venue originally had a capacity of 19,200, but today seats 19,368 and is the fifth-largest on-campus arena in the country. Bud Walton Arena’s record attendance was set on January 26, 1997, in a game vs. Kentucky, with a capacity of 20,320.

Food & Beverage 4

Bud Walton Arena’s food and beverage are perfect for the college basketball venue. There are an adequate number of concessions stands throughout the concourse with basic stadium fare: nachos and pretzels ($5), Jack Link’s jerky ($4), popcorn ($3), hot dogs ($3), and smoked sausage ($7).

There are also a few other additions to the food choices, although these are pricier than the ordinary concessions, such as Dickey’s BBQ stand serving BBQ Pork sandwiches ($9) or BBQ pork nachos and pulled pork mac stacks for the highest food cost inside the arena at $10. You can also find an individual mac & cheese here for $4 or coleslaw for $3. But the two stands that intrigue me most are WPS Burger Company, serving burgers and chicken with prices between $7 and $9, and the Grilled Cheezery, with grilled cheese sandwiches for $6.

Bud Walton Arena serves Pepsi products and no alcoholic beverages. Souvenir sodas ($4) are the best value with the options of regular Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Sierra Mist, and Dr Pepper available. A hot beverage such as coffee or Aquafina bottled water is $3, and dessert cart options are Berrie Kabobs for $7, with three choices of kabobs for fans to choose from. Bags of candy or nuts from the Ozark Candies & Nut stand are also available, as is ice cream.

Atmosphere 4

The basketball pregame atmosphere is a small letdown compared to the great football and baseball tailgating. However, Bud Walton Arena is an exceptional basketball venue for fans to watch a game. Fans arriving early have an opportunity to visit Hog Heaven for any Razorbacks apparel, but the merchandise seller does clear the store for the gates to open 90 minutes prior to tip-off.

If you have the time, then entering through the south end via the arena’s large glass atrium by the store is the best way to enrich your trip to Bud Walton Arena, as this gives you the choice to either check out the Hog Heaven merchandise store (if you haven’t already) or the Arkansas athletics museum exhibit.

The Razorback band can also be seen and heard playing throughout the concourse, and the Razorback spirit squad has a table set up for autographs and photo ops along with Arkansas’ mascot Pork Chop. In addition, the typical college basketball warm-ups on the court go on as fans are finding their seats, then the teams will head into the locker rooms before returning to the court.

The home team returns to the court after the PA announcers says it’s “time to call those Hogs!” The 16K fans instantly will begin raising their arms and putting out the “Whoooo” for 11 seconds, then yell “Pig Sooie;” this will happen three times, the last time ending with the cheer “Razorbacks!”

The team then comes onto the court with the band playing the fight song, while the spirit squads perform. Boss Hog, Big Red, and Pork Chop then continue to get the fans’ energy up before the team’s video introduction. In addition, the recent trend of lighting the arena with phone apps is done inside Bud Walton Arena. There is also another calling of the Hogs before tip-off. The rest of the game fans are engaged and provide the home-court advantage that makes this facility one of the toughest places to play for visiting teams.

Neighborhood 3

Bud Walton Arena sits nestled on the west side of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, just south of Barnhill Arena and Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium at the intersection of Razorback Road and Leroy Pond Drive. Fayetteville is a model college town, and the University of Arkansas is just a short walk from Dickson Street, the city’s main artery – Dickson Street has a long list of bars, restaurants, and other entertainment options for visitors, such as Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese, Bordinos Restaurant & Wine Bar, and Pickleman’s Gourmet Café. There is plenty of live music as well, so be sure to check out George’s Majestic Lounge or Willy D’s Piano Bar.

If you want to avoid the college bar scene on Dickson Street, then Foghorn’s has two locations around Fayetteville, serving up beer and wings, with its closest location right across the street from the school’s baseball venue, Baum Stadium.

The lodging around campus can be scarce, as there are few choices around the area; in downtown Fayetteville, the Chancellor Hotel is a great choice, or there is a Staybridge Suites near Baum Stadium. Those who want to stay on campus should check out The Inn at Carnall Hall, and there are also chain hotels, such as Candlewood Suites and Hampton Inn, off I-49 at the MLK exit. However, if you can’t secure lodging in Fayetteville, then check out historic Fort Smith; Fort Smith is about 45 minutes south of Fayetteville off I-40.

Fans 4

Over the last 25 years, the average attendance inside Bud Walton Arena is about 16,000, representing an average of 82% capacity. These numbers are impressive given that the Razorbacks have consistently been in the top 30 for NCAA basketball attendance.

There are plenty of solid fan bases around the country, especially in the Southeastern Conference with Alabama football, Kentucky basketball, and LSU baseball. However, Razorback fans seem to be solid year-round in all Razorback sports. The Razorback fan tradition of ‘Calling the Hogs’ is always a sight to witness, and Razorback fans are knowledgeable and can become quite loud throughout the game. Bud Walton Arena is one of the toughest places to play for visiting teams because of the Razorback fans.

Access 4

Bud Walton Arena and the University of Arkansas campus can be accessed from interstate 49 at three major exits: #60 (Razorback Road), #62 (MLK Boulevard), and #63 (Wedington Road). The closest airport (Northwest Arkansas Regional) is about 30 miles north between Springdale and Bentonville.

Bud Walton Arena is in among the university’s core athletics facilities, surrounded by student/permit parking lots. However, these nearby parking lots aren’t open to all for general parking – only certain parking lots are reserved on game days, with parking passes being available through the Razorback Foundation. However, now that I have given this disclaimer for Razorbacks parking, the good news is that there is free parking available to the public, but is limited on campus, so fans should plan to arrive early.

Free public parking is available in Lots 44, 45, and 59, as well as in the Stadium Drive Parking Deck. For those that can’t arrive early, there is paid parking available for $20 at the Harmon Avenue Parking Garage located north of Center Street.

Once you arrive at the venue, all public doors open ninety (90) minutes before tip-off for men’s basketball games. Bud Walton Arena enforces the clear bag policy like other venues; the policy is intended to enhance public safety while minimizing time spent searching bags at gate security checkpoints. Each ticketed fan is permitted to bring in only one clear bag and/or a small clutch purse. Fans are encouraged to arrive early, know which items are prohibited, and avoid bringing a bag if possible. For more information about the clear bag policy fans can go to the Arkansas website for more information.

There are plenty of entrances into Bud Walton Arena, with metal detectors in use and all tickets being self-scanning. There is no reentry at Bud Walton Arena per SEC policy, but the concourse is spacious and provides plenty of room to navigate around while minimizing concession lines. The building signage provides easy navigation to and from the seating levels, concession stands, and bathrooms. Overall, the access is easy, quick, and efficient despite a crowd of 16,000 fans.

Return on Investment 3

Razorbacks basketball single-game tickets are available in the upper level for $25 or $40 for the lower level. The overall pricing is a little high compared to SEC schools other than Kentucky, however, the free parking and concessions prices can offset these costs in this wonderful basketball facility.

Extras 4

Bud Walton Arena is one of the best college basketball venues in the country – the arena is easy to access, has plenty of room in the concourse for fans, and has been well-kept in terms of cleanliness, signage, and seating areas. There are also plenty of visuals around the main concourse that illustrate the Hogs’ glory days in the mid-90s.

For fans that want more than just a nice concourse, there is the Razorbacks Sports Museum located at the south end of the building just as fans enter the arena. The museum is filled with the school’s accomplishments in various Arkansas sports, including plenty of trophies and an interesting Razorback statue in the track and field section.

There is also the 1994 National Championship banner, along with the additional five Final Four

appearances for the program (1941, 1945, 1978, 1990, and 1995), hanging from the rafters above the court.

Of course, the solid Razorback fan base that packs Bud Walton Arena to call the hogs is a major plus. A crowd of 16,000 fans calling the hogs deserves a solid extra point when visiting The Basketball Palace of Mid-America.

Final Thoughts

Many colleges have fans that stereotype the school with only one sport, such as a football school or a basketball school. Arkansas fans cover all sports, however – they fill Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium during the fall, then Baum Stadium in the spring. So, it comes as no surprise that Razorback Nation makes Bud Walton Arena, The Basketball Palace of Mid-America, one of the most unique venues at which to watch a college basketball game.

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