- Chad Minton
CFSB Center – Murray State Racers
Photo Courtesy of Murray State University
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
CFSB Center 1401 State Route 121 North Murray, KY 42071
Year Opened: 1998
A Hidden Gem in Basketball’s Heartland
It’s hard to deny the state of Kentucky’s richness when it comes to college basketball, and Murray State's CFSB Center shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle. It’s tucked away near the Tennessee border, and is absolutely worth the scenic drive to witness a game.
Completed in 1998, the Racers have enjoyed a distinct home-court advantage in this venue for nearly 20 years. It embodies everything that mid-major basketball is all about, which is passionate fans to go along with a loud atmosphere. The building itself is impressive for a program out of the Ohio Valley Conference, and the interior has the perfect layout for its capacity crowd of over 8,000.
The Murray State basketball program usually gets lost among the more traditional Kentucky powerhouses like the Louisville Cardinals and Kentucky Wildcats. Once you get past those two elite programs, Murray State makes a great case for the being next in line.
If there’s a big conference matchup on the docket, or an in-state rival, then you better expect a packed house at CFSB Center.
Food & Beverage 4
There is more than the just ordinary offered at the concession stands, which is always nice to see at smaller venues. Drinks are all fairly priced at $3, with choices including bottled water, Pepsi products, and even Starbucks coffee. You can also indulge yourself with “bottomless” soda for $7.
As for the food, there are several options that go beyond the usual. You have your classic hot dog for only $3, and add chili and cheese for 50 cents more. You can go with a bratwurst for $3.50. You can get the classic soft pretzel for $5. The lower priced items include a box of popcorn ($2.50) and wide variety of candy ($1.50). The cinnamon bites, which are offered by Culver’s restaurant, are $4.50 and an interesting alternative. There are also a couple separate food and beverage carts with nachos and lemonade.
All of the choices are great and anyone should be able to find something they can enjoy. The only qualm is that the concession stand ran out of hot dogs right before tip-off during my most recent visit, so there was a delay to having more available.
This experience lives up to the hype of experiencing some excellent mid-major basketball in a basketball-rich state like Kentucky. You instantly feel the intimidation that the home crowd can generate in this building. It almost has a vertical feel to it, putting the fans right on top of the court. I certainly witnessed how loud this place can get, and it wasn’t even at capacity during my visit.
There really isn’t a bad view of the court no matter where you sit. However, the television cameras can block your sight line if you’re sitting too far towards the front in the upper bleachers. Since it is general admission seating up top, you shouldn’t have a problem moving to another seat to get a better view. Perhaps the best view is from the concourse area, if you don’t mind standing. The lower sections have chair back seats, while the upper sections are bleachers.
You get to see all of the banners hanging from the rafters, and the CFSB Center has a lot of them. There are several retired numbers and championship banners spanning back to nearly a century ago. It reminds you that you’re seeing a program with a lot of history and tradition.
You have to realize that Murray is located in a rural part of the country where you can drive 20-plus miles between towns. The city of Murray has plenty of fast food dining options, but not much after that. There are a few casual dining restaurants available, and most of them are located near the CFSB Center. Your best bet to try something new would be Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill and Margarita Bar. It’s within walking distance of the CFSB Center exits. In terms of bars or nightlife, there isn’t anything noticeable in the immediate area. Additionally, there is an Applebee’s nearby to the arena.
This is a gorgeous part of the country when it comes to national parks and other outdoor activities. If you like doing things in nature, then check out Land Between the Lakes. It’s a massive recreational area that offers boating, walking trails, camping, and wildlife.
It is a pretty decent drive away from any major cities, with Paducah being the closest at approximately 45 miles, and Nashville being over 100 miles.
You would have to be wearing some serious blinders not to notice the extreme passion that Murray State fans bring with them to support their Racers. The home fans always cheer for a made basket, but these particular fans are alert and make their presence known on a whole other level. Virtually every fan is wildly into the game from start to finish. The building is also small enough to voice your displeasure to the referees, and there are several fans who take on the role of heckling them.
The majority of the fans stay for the whole game, or at least until less than two minutes to go when the game is out of reach. They are loyal and create a lot of momentum when the Racers make their runs. Additionally, they are friendly and welcoming to visitors.
There’s no easy or direct way to get to Murray. It’s not located off of any interstates, meaning you have to use state highways for a good 30-40 miles, depending on which direction you’re coming from. If you’re coming from the Nashville area, then I recommend coming down Interstate 24, leaving you with a few state highways to make the rest of your journey. You can use Interstate 40 if coming from the West, and then go North on Highway 641. Just be prepared to use some highways that don’t have a lot of gas stations, so plan accordingly as this area can get desolate.
As a first-time visitor, it is somewhat confusing on where to park. The construction surrounding the area in 2016 makes it even more confusing, but there are helpful staff that direct fans to park next to the football stadium.
There are two sets of restrooms in the lone concourse area, and they are kept very clean with plenty of space.
Return on Investment 5
You can’t beat the bargain of attending a game at CFSB Center. The product on the court really helps this score, and you can’t ever argue with free parking. The concession prices are less than expected, further helping the overall return on investment. Ticket prices basically come in two forms; general admission is a mere $10, with reserved seating in the lower bowl at $16. It’s a great value for some quality mid-major basketball. You can take the family out for an enjoyable evening at a very fair price.
The hospitality of the fans and staff is an excellent bonus. You shouldn’t worry about bringing the family to an event here as the environment is family friendly, presented by a courteous staff.
I wasn’t sure what the attendance would be on a weeknight for a team that isn’t performing at its usual high level. Despite the circumstances, the fans showed up in impressive numbers and supplied a strong home-court advantage. There were multiple occasions when the fans literally had the place at a deafening level, and that earns them an extra.
Another extra goes to the quality of the band. They are involved in the game with chants, while playing some great tunes to feed into the college basketball atmosphere.
It is a very positive experience at CFSB Center that may exceed your expectations. You should certainly plan a visit if your team has an upcoming game here, or if you’re just in the area and enjoy seeing high quality basketball in an intimate college basketball arena like CFSB Center. Just plan accordingly as CFSB Center is nestled away in the rural area of southern Kentucky.