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  • Meg Minard

Clune Arena – Air Force Falcons

Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Clune Arena 2168 Field House Dr Colorado Springs, CO 80840

Air Force Falcons website

Clune Arena website

Year Opened: 1968

Capacity: 5,858


Wild Blue Yonder Basketball

A part of Cadet Field House, Clune Arena has been the home for the Air Force Academy basketball programs since 1968. The arena is named after former AFA Director of Athletics John Clune, who served in that position from 1975-91. It is one of the smaller courts in the Mountain West Conference seating 5,858. Cadet Field House also houses the hockey rink for the AFA hockey team and an indoor track. There is just something special and patriotic about watching any Falcons game, and the men’s basketball game and venue is no exception.

Food & Beverage 3

A food court awaits fans just after passing through security. In this area, one fixed concession stand offers traditional stadium fare: hot dogs, nachos, spicy sausage and snacks that include cotton candy, popcorn, pretzels, chips, candy, ice cream sandwiches, etc. A variety of temporary concession stands are available and they tend to change from season to season. This 2018-2019 season has delicious Dickey’s BBQ (pork or brisket sandwich, nachos, sausage on a stick $6 – $7.50); Big Papas Grill (street tacos, mega salads, nachos, Frito pie, etc. $8); Cowgirl Kettle Corn $5/$7; GG (burgers, curly fries, pickles, chicken sandwiches, brat, footlong spicing sausage and the like $6 – $8); and Cool Beads (the coolest ice cream on earth $5 – $9).

Pepsi products are offered (including Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew) as well as water, Gatorade, and hot beverages such as coffee, tea, and cider. Two choices of beer Miller and Blue Moon are now sold by the cleverly named Wild Brew Yonder ($8).

Cash is accepted at all concessions; Master Card and Visa at most.

High top tables are set up to relax and consume any nourishment you may have purchased before heading into the seating area.

Atmosphere 3

The arena has two levels of seating with a walkway between the two. Fold down cushioned stadium seats are available in the first level on the side lines. Some fold down stadium seats are in the second level with wooden benches with backs in the general admission area on the second level. The ‘cadet area’ behind one of the baskets also has wooden benches. Hand banisters are provided for moving up and down the steps and plenty of handicapped/wheelchair seating is accessible on the walkway.

Since the seating area is small, all seats provide a great view of the game. If you want to sit center court facing the player benches, I’d recommend section U6.

A pep band is not at all games (especially early season, non-conference games). When it is in attendance, the band plays the opening stanza of the Air Force Song (Off We Go Into The Wild Blue Yonder) at the beginning of both halves and all the fans stand up and sing along. After the game, the Falcons players all line up, hold hands and sing the other stanza of the Air Force song (A Toast to the Host). WOW! Talk about a showing of strength and unity by the team and respect and honor for the USA and the Air Force. The song will stay in your head the entire day/evening.

Other entertainment during games can include the bongo cam, basket shooting contests by individuals during half time and/or other entertainment by local groups, cheerleaders and a dance team are energized all game long. Depending on the game attended, there may be a giveaway and watch for the teddy bear toss game around the holidays. Music is played often between breaks and can sometimes be loud.

A new crisp, clear scoreboard is at center court and provides instant replays, the half, score, team total fouls, and which team has possession. Individual player stats are provided on displays in the upper end zones behind the baskets and include player’s name and number, points, assists, rebounds, and fouls. Out of town scores are also provided along a stationary ribbon board above the seating area.

Neighborhood 4

Though Clune Arena is not in a downtown area with plenty of pubs and restaurants, the arena is in an Air Force Academy facility and environment. It is in the Rocky Mountains and there’s nothing quite as spectacular as gawking at those mountains for some moments during a visit to the area.

Nearby Air Force Chapel houses three distinct worship areas under a single roof and has been named a U.S. National Historic Landmark. It has received many architectural prizes since its construction in 1962. Note: The Chapel is currently under repair for several years so is not available for visiting.

The Barry Goldwater Air Force Academy Visitor Center contains exhibits, a theater, and gift shop for those wanting to learn more about the Academy’s history. Hiking trails are available for those looking to see a different side of the Air Force Academy. Four trails totaling more than 50 miles are open for members of the public.

The United States Olympic Committee is based in Colorado Springs; its training center is open to the public and a new museum, dedicated to the United States’ success in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, is scheduled to open in 2019. Other enjoyable tourist things to see and do while in Colorado Springs are: Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls, Pikes Peak, and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Several local drinking/eating establishments (not walking distance but within 5-10 miles) that I would recommend are Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub (weekend brunch) and the Colorado Mountain Brewery. Both are a worthy of a pre and post game visit.

The closest lodging to the Air Force Academy is located approximately seven miles away, off of Interstate 25 on Interquest Parkway. Several new hotels have opened recently, including a Hampton Inn, Residence Inn, and Drury Inn.

Other sporting events while in Colorado Springs for AFA basketball include the AFA hockey (check the schedule and a double header with the basketball team is do-able a few times a season), AFA football and a Colorado College ice hockey game.

Fans 3

The fan base ranges from alumni and retirees to middle aged couples to families with little tots, and fellow cadets. So regardless of your age, you’ll feel comfortable visiting a Falcon’s basketball game. The fans do let the referees know when a bad foul call is made by loudly booing. When the Air Force song is played, all stand up, sing and applaud the team on the court.

Access 3

It’s easy to get to the arena as it is right off I-25 in Colorado Springs. You do have to drive through a security gate before entering the academy. On this trip, I did have to stop, show ID, and open the trunk of my vehicle. That doesn’t happen all the time; just be aware it could when visiting the arena.

Parking is free and individuals do a fine job of directing you into which lot to park. Those same individuals do a fantastic job at moving the traffic after the game and back onto I-25. Be sure to check the AFA website to see if other sporting events (mostly football) are being held the same day. If so, be warned – traffic leaving the Academy can be a nightmare on those occurrences.

Colorado Springs Airport is about a 30 min drive to the Academy. Denver International Airport is a bit farther – about an hour and 15 min drive. More flights are available to/from DIA and are probably lower in fare than Colorado Springs.

Fans do have to pass through metal detectors when accessing Clune Arena. Backpacks and outside food and drink are not allowed. Not required, but the security staff do appreciate the clear plastic bags required at NFL these days.

People movement inside the arena’s concourse is fine. Restrooms are tiny, yet clean and serve their purpose. Expect some lines during halftime.

Needless to say, one feels very, very safe and protected in the Air Force Academy environment.

Return on Investment 5

It is still only $9 for a ticket (tickets range from $9 – $30) and parking is free. Concession prices are below average for a Div 1 NCAA venue. Watching the patriotism and respect shown by the Falcons players and Falcons fans is well worth a trip.

Extras 2

A large souvenir shop at the end of the food court offers all kinds of apparel, hat pins, pennants, post cards, etc. all emblazoned with the AF logo.

Having the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop to the facility is an extra bonus.

Final Thoughts

It’s a worthwhile trip going to an AFA basketball game for those who like the sound of squeaky sneakers. For your best bet, attend when they are playing against a conference rival like Colorado State as the atmosphere will be alive. Be sure to visit the extras the academy has to offer and the other tourist options Colorado Springs provides.

There’s just something about witnessing the allegiance, honor, and team camaraderie of an Air Force game. I was proud watching these young men play knowing they are offering their services and even their life for the freedom and protection of the USA.

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