Bud Walton Arena – Arkansas Razorbacks
Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Bud Walton Arena 1270 W Leroy Pond Dr. Fayetteville, AR 72701
Year Opened: 1993
Woo Pig Sooie Hoops
There is not much bigger in Arkansas after the football season is over than Arkansas Razorbacks basketball. Located in Fayetteville, the second largest city in the state with a population of just over 98,000, the University of Arkansas is the biggest attraction in the city. Founded in 1871 as Arkansas Industrial University, the University of Arkansas boasts a current enrollment of over 30,000.
The Razorbacks have been playing basketball since 1923 and the peak of their success was the 1994 run through the Final Four to become National Champions. The Razorbacks currently play in the Southeastern Conference of the NCAA, where they have played since 1991, becoming the first domino to fall in the demise of the Southwest Conference.
The home for the Razorbacks is Bud Walton Arena. Known as the Palace of Mid-America, Bud Walton Arena opened in 1993 and is widely accepted as one of the most difficult places to play for opponents. The court is named after National Championship coach Nolan Richardson and the arena is named after James “Bud” Walton, co-founder of Wal-Mart, who made a sizable donation for the construction of the arena. Nolan Richardson Court at Bud Walton Arena is one of the largest on-campus arenas in the country and provides a unique NCAA basketball experience that fans should consider getting.
Food & Beverage 4
The circa nineties design of the Bud Walton Arena combined with the homogeneous design of the concession stands give the impression that the food selection is fairly pedestrian. Nothing could be further from the truth. A closer look will give fans an insight into the wide variety of concession items available.
All of the expected items can be found at the arena, however, the selection goes far beyond just hot dogs and popcorn. Pulled pork, brisket, tacos, nachos, and a variety of pizza options are available. The stands all look the same, so some investigating is necessary. Coca-cola products are the soft drinks of choice at Bud Walton Arena. Bud Light and Michelob Ultra are the available beer selections.
The Bud Walton Arena is not an overly attractive Arena from the exterior. There is plenty of brown brick and there are materials that could have been used that are far less attractive. There just isn’t much to wow people walking by. It fits into the area of campus where it is located, with the other athletic facilities.
Once inside the Bud Walton Arena, fans will immediately notice the concourses and their dedication to all things Razorbacks. Red and white are the dominant colors and there are plenty of items to keep the interest of fans doing some treasure hunting. There are large displays honoring significant players from specific eras. For example, the display from the nineties features Lee Mayberry, Todd Day, and Oliver Miller. The massive display commemorating the 1994 National Championship, including the massive retro Sports Illustrated cover is a spot fan will want to stop and take a look.
When fans enter the seating bowl, the enormity of the facility will quickly become apparent. Two tiers of red seats that go right up to the floor provide excellent sight lines. The court runs from west to east and the best spot to get the perfect Center logo picture is from the south side. Above the center court, there is a state-of-the-art videoboard, fitting a major college program.
On the east side, the basketball banners hang above the court. Individual honors for Sidney Moncrief, Corliss Williamson, Eddie Sutton, and Nolan Richardson hang to the left of the conference championship banners, and further along, the line is the 1994 National Champions banner. Banners for appearances in the 1941, 1945, 1978, 1990, 1994, and 1995 Final Fours flank the other banners.
The gameday atmosphere is that of a typical, major college basketball program, turned up a notch. The band sits in the southeast corner and they are excellent. The band is the focus of the atmosphere, however, the Razorbacks do employ two gameday hosts who end up pushing a crowd that doesn’t require all that much pushing. The music played over the PA is unusually loud and not necessary at all.
The Razorbacks have several mascots. Arkansas has a live mascot, Tusks, but it is unclear if it is at basketball games and it was not at the game reviewed. Costumed mascots Big Red, Sue E., Pork Chop, and Boss Hog can be found at games, and courtside, helping out with the cheerleaders and dance team. Overall, a lot is going on for an Arkansas basketball game
The University of Arkansas is located west of what would probably be considered Downtown Fayetteville. Heading to the east of the campus, which is rather large, would be where fans would want to head to find some pre or post-game spots for food or drink. Boulders and Brews, Brewski’s Draft Emporium, Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe, and Yancey’s are all decent options.
For other sporting options, the University of Arkansas fields a full complement of athletic teams, chief of which is the football team, which plays on campus at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The baseball team plays at Baum Stadium at George Cole Field. The Razorbacks are often referred to as “The State of Arkansas’ Professional Team.” There is some Minor League Baseball that can be found in nearby Springdale, where the Northwest Arkansas Naturals play at Arvest Ballpark.
As for other tourism opportunities, fans may want to take advantage of the focus on the outdoors in the areas surrounding Fayetteville or use the numerous hiking or biking trails. Checking out the live music venues along Dickson Street may be of interest also. For fans wishing to stay near campus, heading west will bring them to several hotel options, including the Best Western.
When a college experience is being compared to a professional experience, you know it is the place to be! Arkansas fans are among the best in college basketball. Arkansas boasts the highest attendance in the SEC, which is saying something considering that blue-blood Kentucky is in the conference, and averages over 19,000 per game.
The importance of Arkansas basketball is further underlined as the Razorbacks boast the second-highest average attendance in the entire NCAA, second only to Syracuse, who play in the massive JMA Wireless Dome, which also hosts Syracuse football.
Not only do the fans come out in droves, but they are among the loudest and most intimidating in all of college basketball. This is shown through the “Woo Pig Sooie” chant, which can be heard throughout the game. Visiting fans won’t take very long to get a handle on the practice and soon they will be calling the hogs along with the natives.
Getting to Bud Walton Arena is not that difficult. The University of Arkansas campus is just east of I-49, the main artery in Fayetteville. A short jaunt down Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd will bring fans to the edge of campus. Parking can be found on campus or at nearby Fayetteville High School. Fans looking for public transit to the game can check out the Razorback Transit website for fares, schedules, and maps.
Walking around Bud Walton Arena is not difficult, but can be a bit crowded at times. Washrooms are adequate for the crowd in attendance. With the state of security at major sporting events in constant flux, Stadium Journey strongly urges fans to check the Bud Walton Arena and Arkansas Razorbacks websites for the most up-to-date security requirements and procedures including bag policies.
Return on Investment 4
Once football season is over, Arkansas basketball is the biggest ticket in town. Tickets are often sold out and the secondary market is the place to look, where prices can assuredly be inflated. When preparing for this review, there were no seats available on the primary market for the majority of the season suggesting that all of the games were sold to season ticket holders and students. Concession prices are what fans would expect and parking will not go for an exorbitant amount. The return fans can expect is one of the best atmospheres in college basketball, with fans who turn out to support their team in greater numbers than their blueblood counterparts.
An extra mark for the Walmart shareholders meetings being held at Bud Walton Arena. An extra mark for Arkansas is THE ticket in the state. An extra mark for being one of the toughest places to play basketball as an opponent. An extra mark for WOO PIG SOOIE
The Arkansas Razorbacks provides one of the best environments for college basketball in the country at Nolan Richardson Court at Bud Walton Arena. A trip to Fayetteville may not be high on the bucket list for basketball fans at first glance, however, when all of the factors are put together, it definitely should be! WOO PIG SOOIE!!