- Eric Moreno
College Park Center – Dallas Wings
Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
College Park Center 600 South Center St Arlington, TX 76019
Dallas Wings website College Park Center website
Year Opened: 2012 Capacity: 7,000
The Dallas Wings Soar at College Park Center
It took a few years before the WNBA made its debut in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, but a franchise was ultimately awarded to North Texas in 2016. That year the former Detroit/Tulsa Shock made their debut and were rechristened the Dallas Wings. When they made the move to Arlington, the Wings brought with them four Conference Championships and three WNBA Championships.
With a built-in brand and a market rabid for professional sports, the Wings have found a home and a die-hard fan base here. In the ensuing seasons the Wings have continued to build on their existing success, making the playoffs two out of the first three seasons in their new home. From the friendly confines of College Park Center, on the campus of the University of Texas at Arlington, the Wings are hoping to bring their fans another title in the near future.
Food & Beverage 3
First and foremost, what you need to understand right off the bat about College Park Center is what the first word in its name implies – this is a college facility. That doesn’t mean the facilities here have skimped on amenities, but it does mean you should temper your expectations if you are familiar with other WNBA/NBA arenas. But when it comes to food and beverages, College Park Center acquits itself just fine.
There are two main concessions areas near the main entrance, Ted E’s BBQ and Ted E’s Tex-Mex. Both sell what their names imply, such as brisket and pulled pork nachos ($7 and $8 respectively) or Mexican street tacos. You can also get your standard hot dogs, nachos, and fountain drinks. They also have iced tea, both sweet and unsweet, which as a Southerner I appreciate.
The arena also has a few standalone food carts sprinkled along the main concourse, which include a Dippin’ Dots stand and, my personal favorite, a Doc Popcorn stand – you can smell this buttery concoction from the street. Do yourself a favor and get a large bag (prices range from $6-$10) and take whatever you don’t finish home with you; you won’t be disappointed.
One of the most pleasant surprises I have had since I began doing these reviews for Stadium Journey was the atmosphere that the Dallas Wings put forth in the game I most recently attended; it was flat out electric in the stands. From the opening tip to the final buzzer, the crowd was engaged and excited. I think this is in part due to the size of College Park Center.
One of the upper decks in the arena is closed off for Wings games, and this forces all the fans into the lower bowl, making the crowd noise here extra loud. The Wings also do a really good job of keeping everyone engaged; they do this, in part, with their own in-stadium deejay named DJ EJ. He spins the proverbial ones and twos before the game and during timeouts, and the Wings also do a second quarter singalong, which is pretty fun to take part in.
College Park Center is located on the campus of UT-Arlington. It is situated in an area of the city eponymously known as the College Park District, and this area is almost like a neighborhood unto itself. You could spend a whole day exploring the area and not need to leave to do anything else. There are also numerous dining options here, including chains like Texadelphia, BurgerIM, and Pie Five Pizza Co.
When looking for things to do, the District is also home to The Green at College Park; this urban park serves as a meeting place, exercise spot, and just a spot to bask in nature. The park is open seven days a week and is a great spot to do some hiking or biking before Wings games. Or, if you’re looking to do some indoor activities on your visit to College Park Center, the UTA Planetarium is also located in the District – you’ll need to check their hours before making a visit, though.
Arlington is, of course, home to two of the Metroplex’s four major league sports franchises, the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Rangers. Both teams’ seasons overlap with the Wings, so if you plan your visit right, you may be able to catch one of those games as well.
The WNBA doesn’t publicly publish its attendance figures, so what I’m basing this on is purely anecdotal, but the seats open for purchase during Wings games are pretty much all filled; while they will never be able to match the attendance numbers of teams that play in bigger arenas, I believe College Park Center is an ideal venue for the Wings.
The fans they do have here are loud and passionate about their team. The arena’s location doesn’t really lend itself to tailgating, but I don’t think that’s an indicator of a lack of passion for the Wings. Given a few more years and a few more playoff runs, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a full arena every time out for the team.
The city of Arlington is smack dab in-between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, and is about a half hour drive from each. UT-Arlington is in the middle of a residential area of the city, but is relatively easy to find, either from Interstate 30 or State Highway 360.
Once you get into the College Park District area, there are designated parking areas, but those tend to fill up pretty fast with visitors and students. The parking garage adjacent to College Park Center is open on game days, though, and parking there costs $15 on game days.
Return on Investment 3
Single-game tickets for the Wings start at just $7 per person, so if you’re looking to take a group of people to a game at College Park Center, this price point won’t do serious damage to your wallet. And, with parking costing only as much as $15 (or you can find free parking if you are willing to look for it and walk a little), as well as the arena having pretty average concession prices, Wings games offer a lot of bang for your buck. If you are looking to introduce younger fans to professional sports, the Wings are a great way to start out.
Aside from the in-house deejay, College Park Center doesn’t offer much in the way of extras. What they do have though is the only female mascot in all of pro sports, a human-sized Pegasus named Lightning. Mascots are already big draws for younger fans, but Lightning is in a class by herself. She can be seen making her way through the stands pretty much the entire game, and fans line up to get a photo with her.
Prior to attending this game in Arlington, I had limited exposure to the WNBA, and what I had was nothing I would write home about. That opinion has changed now that I’ve taken in a game at College Park Center – this was flat out a lot of fun and I enjoyed my experience wholeheartedly. If you are interested in taking in a pro game on a budget or just learning more about the women’s brand of pro hoops, you could not do much better than taking in a Dallas Wings game; I would recommend that you do if you have the chance.