Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
CB&S Bank Arena at Flowers Hall 701 N Pine St Florence, AL 35632
Year Opened: 1972 Capacity: 2,233
CB&S Bank Arena
One of the newer additions to NCAA Division I, the University of North Alabama Lions joined the ASUN Conference in 2018. The jump from Division II has come with several renovations to the nearly 50-year-old Flowers Hall, with maybe the biggest change being the addition of CB&S Bank Arena to the building’s name. Some of the upgrades have included replacing the wooden seating, the addition of large video boards, a new donor’s suite, and many behind-the-scenes upgrades that are unseen by most fans.
Food & Beverage 3
The only concessions stand in the arena is in the main lobby, and it serves typical concession stand items. Hot dogs and nachos are the primary concessions, to which cheese and chili can be added for an additional $1.50 each. Hot dog combos are available for an extra $4.50. There is also a wide choice of candy and snacks such as chips, popcorn, and pretzels. Beverages include bottled Coke products, Powerade, and Monster energy drinks. Alcoholic beverages are not available for purchase at the concessions stand.
Lines tend to get backed up at half time, so try to grab a bite during a timeout or just before the end of the half.
CB&S Arena has a rather retro appearance. It has a refreshing simplicity to it that is a throwback to pit gymnasiums where most of the fans sit above the benches, looking down onto the court.
Upon entering the arena, fans with floor seats can enter up either of the ramps on the lobby level, whereas ticketed general admission seats will need to use the stairs on either side. If getting court level seats behind the bench, try to sit toward the back of the section, as players on the bench tend to obstruct the view of the game.
There is no overhead scoreboard – rather there are several smaller scoreboards around the arena. Court level scoreboards give basic time and score, along with running player point totals and fouls, while a larger scoreboard with added team and player foul information hangs at each end. Two large video boards hang on either side of the basket at the home end of the court. Both boards are mostly used to show the video feed of the game, which seems a bit redundant. So while there are plenty of scoreboards around the arena, it would be nice to have more specific individual and team stats on one of the video boards.
The in-game promotions and entertainment does a lot to highlight the spirit of college basketball. Most of the pre-game music is from the in-house DJ, but in-game stoppages in play are primarily run by the pep band and cheer squads. All-in-all, UNA does a good job at providing a well-balanced mix of modern and more traditional in game entertainment.
Located on the southern side of Florence, not far from the Tennessee River, the University of North Alabama and CB&S Arena are less than a mile from the city center. There, visitors can find a wide variety of shopping and dining options. One of the highly recommended establishments in this part of town is Willwood Tavern, known for its specialty hot dogs and vast menu.
Not far from downtown Florence is Wilson Dam; this area offers hiking, camping, and some of the best smallmouth bass fishing around. Nearby is the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa, which is also home to the 360 Grille, Alabama’s only revolving restaurant. The 300-foot-tall tower resembles Seattle’s Space Needle and provides views of Wilson Dam and the surrounding area.
Just across the Tennessee River from Florence are the towns of Sheffield and Muscle Shoals. Fans of classic rock might recognize the former from the Lynyrd Skynyrd song, “Sweet Home Alabama.” It was here Skynyrd recorded his first demo and sang of “Swampers” from Muscle Shoals, the local studio band that has provided studio backup for some of the largest names in music through the 70s and 80s. The studio has since been converted into a museum to recognize the role 3614 Jackson Highway played in music history.
The University of North Alabama fans do a very good job at creating an extremely fun basketball atmosphere. Students show up early, hand out pom-poms, and get their whiteboards ready with ever changing messages to support their Lions. Their intensity hardly wavers throughout the game, and seemingly wills the team into defensive stops and important baskets at the most opportune times.
While weekday games tend to have smaller crowds, conference weekend games are very well attended.
There is no easy way to get to Florence, as it is located well off any of the major interstates that run through northern Alabama, southern Tennessee, or eastern Mississippi. If coming from out of the area, most fans will take I-65 to any of the various US highways or state roads that feed into Florence.
Parking is available in the lots adjacent to the practice fields, where the UNA Athletics sign is, or in the lot behind Flowers Hall off Circular Drive.
Return on Investment 3
Reserved court level seats start at $18, while general admission tickets run $12. An initial look at ticket prices might seem to be a bit on the higher side, but considering there is no fee for parking and that concessions are pretty affordable, the overall price is consistent with the rest of the conference.
North Alabama has done well in utilizing the dead-space behind their endline bleachers – UNA has turned the area into the Treehouse Kids Zone, where kids run, jump, and play on inflatables during the game.
The main lobby area gives a rather extensive look at the successes of UNA athletics. Featured are the several National Championships and other awards the school has won, along with a corner dedicated to All-Americans who have played at North Alabama.
What the University of North Alabama is trying to do by updating a 50-year-old arena is no easy feat. Many of the upgrades that have been made have worked well to fill a need, but have come at the expense of convenience in some areas. Overall, however, the upgrades have modernized and provided amenities that are useful when considering a jump from Division II to Division I.
Even though Florence and North Alabama might not be a destination location for most, it is a basketball environment that the average fan should enjoy. Between the game presentation and the atmosphere created by the fans, pep band, and cheer squads, it has just about everything that is right about college basketball.