Chartway Arena – Old Dominion Monarchs
Photos by Joseph Oakes Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Chartway Arena 4320 Hampton Blvd Norfolk, VA 23529
Year Opened: 2002
Old Dominion University is a public research university located in Norfolk, Virginia, with over 24,000 on and off-campus students. Old Dominion was formerly a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, but since 2013 has competed in Conference USA. Old Dominion began playing basketball in the Constant Convocation Center in 2002, when the arena opened. The arena seats just under 9,000 for basketball and is the perfect-sized arena for the Old Dominion basketball team and its fans.
Note: In June 2019, the name of the venue changed from Constant Convocation Center to Chartway Arena.
Food & Beverage 3
There are four main concession stands at the Constant Convocation Center, each located on the concourse level above the main seating bowl in the four corners of the arena. The concourse is open in the corners where the concession stands are, which allow patrons to still view game action while standing in line for concessions. The majority of the concession stands are manned by ODU student groups, such as the ROTC. One major plus is that the concession stands accept all major credit/debit cards.
There is an average selection of food at the Constant Convocation Center, which includes pizza, chicken tenders, hot dogs, chicken Philly, fries, soft pretzels, popcorn, nachos and cheese, churros, and candy. A good choice is the pizza that is from a local Hampton Roads based chain, Ynot Pizza. Individual slices are available for $5. One disappointment is that the Constant Convocation Center’s website states that barbecue nachos are available. However, on my visit, barbecue nachos were not offered.
Pepsi products are the brand of choice at the Constant Convocation Center, and are offered in fountain style in both small paper cups ($4) and large souvenir cups ($6). Bottled water is also available. Alcoholic beverages are not available in the Constant Convocation Center for ODU basketball games.
Upon entering the Constant Convocation Center, one is immediately met with a tremendous sense of ODU pride. In the main lobby area, there is a Hall of Fame area with memorabilia from past teams and championship trophies. The majority of the seating in the Constant Center is in the large lower bowl, with the main concourse above the seating bowl. All seats in the lower bowl are nice plush, cushioned seats with cup holders. Above the concourse level is the suite/club level. The suites are located on the sidelines, while club seating is in the corners and end zones. A large four-sided LED video board hangs directly above center court. This provides high-definition video replays, along with the score, fouls, shooting percentage, etc.
The ODU pep band is located in one of the end zone sections, and does a great job getting the crowd pumped up and leading cheers. ODU’s mascot, a lion, is nicknamed Big Blue and makes his way around the crowd throughout the game. There are also several t-shirt tosses throughout the game.
There is not a bad seat in the house at the Constant Center. However, sitting in sections 103-105, you will be facing the scorer’s tables and team benches, while being able to see the center-court ODU logo correctly.
The Constant Convocation Center is located on the ODU campus about approximately four miles from downtown Norfolk. While there are a few restaurants within walking distance of the Constant Convocation Center (Monarch Recovery Sports Grill, La Herradura Mexican Restaurant, Sakura Sushi Bar), the majority of the restaurants are located in downtown Norfolk. The downtown area boasts many great restaurants, including Freemason Abbey, Hell’s Kitchen, and Shula’s 347 Grill. There are also chain restaurants, such as Buffalo Wild Wings, located in downtown Norfolk. Overall, there is a wide variety of both local and chain restaurants located in the area.
Being located in the Hampton Roads area, there are several attractions and entertainment options for out-of-town visitors to the Constant Center to check out. One can’t miss would be Nauticus, which features the U.S.S. Wisconsin, which is located in downtown Norfolk. Another must-see is the MacArthur Memorial, also located in downtown Norfolk, which features a museum, learning center, and theater honoring General Douglas MacArthur. Other areas worth visiting are Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, all located within a 30-minute drive of downtown Norfolk.
The SpringHill Suites, located across the street from the Constant Center, is the only hotel within walking distance of the arena. However, again, there are several lodging options located in downtown Norfolk.
ODU has one of the largest and most passionate fan bases in Conference USA. While the attendance is not always at capacity, ODU typically averages 6,000-7,000 per game. The game I attended saw just over 6,500 fans in attendance.
Even though ODU was behind the whole game that I attended and eventually lost, it seemed like the fans really wanted to get into the game, but the team’s play kept the crowd mostly quiet. However, in a couple instances when ODU cut the game to eight points, fans would get on their feet and the building got really loud. The student section was a disappointment, as it was not very full, and the students that were there remained mostly seated.
Overall, the Constant Convocation Center is not the easiest venue to get to; however, once inside, the concourse is easy to maneuver and quite fan friendly. ODU’s campus is serviced by Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) buses, which provide service into downtown Norfolk. Norfolk is serviced by the Norfolk International Airport (ORF), and provides access to several major airlines including Delta, American, Southwest, and Continental.
One plus of attending an event at the Constant Convocation Center is free parking available in the parking decks across the street. Access to the arena can be sometimes slowed, as a narrow four-lane city street takes you from downtown Norfolk to ODU, and can sometimes get backed up as you get closer to game time. If driving to ODU from either the Midtown or Downtown Tunnels, be sure to allow a little extra time, as they can easily get congested.
The best entrance to the Constant Center is through the main lobby, as there are several lines. Security is a breeze, as all they check is purses and large bags. The ticket office is located to the right of the main entrance lobby along Hampton Boulevard.
Moving about the concourse is fairly easy, even though sometimes concession lines can impede flow, especially during halftime. In the corners where the concession stands are located, the concourse is open, allowing a clear view of the court. Restrooms are located on the main concourse and are extremely clean. Handicapped-accessible seating is located at center court at the top of the seating bowl.
Return on Investment 4
Attending an ODU basketball game is very economical for Division I basketball. For conference games, concourse-level tickets are $20, while club level seats are $34. Concession prices are comparable to any other similar venue. Free parking and a free game program just add to your experience. One special package ODU offers is the voucher book, in which you can get tickets to any 10 games for just $99.
Besides hosting ODU basketball, the Constant Center also hosts ODU wrestling and other events, such as concerts. I was able to attend an ODU wrestling match, as well, and saw them take on top-10 ranked NC State. Tickets for wrestling matches are only $6, and the seating is general admission in the concourse level. As an added bonus, ODU wrestling fans are very knowledgeable as to the rules of college wrestling and are very vocal. After each match win for ODU, t-shirts are thrown into the crowd. Also, a short video of college wrestling rules is shown before the meet begins to inform fans who are not familiar with the rules.