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  • Writer's pictureDave Cottenie

Donald L. Tucker Civic Center – Florida State Seminoles

Photos by Dave Cottenie and Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Donald L. Tucker Center 505 W Pensacola St Tallahassee, FL 32301

Year Opened: 1981

Capacity: 11,675


Seminole Experience

Florida State is a football school.

There really is no denying it. Just driving by Doak Campbell Stadium and one would instantly surmise that football is the game of choice in Tallahassee. The hulking beauty and attention to detail make it no surprise that the Seminoles once thoroughly dominated the football scene in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Do not sleep on the Florida State basketball program.

Although the Seminoles are in the same conference as basketball powerhouses like North Carolina State, North Carolina and Duke, the Seminoles have been competitive and provide an experience that is appropriate for the ACC. Established in the Florida capitol in 1851, Florida State University is a public institute of higher learning with an enrollment of over 41,000. The athletics department first put a basketball team on the court in 1947 and they would join the ACC in 1991. The Seminoles have visited the NCAA tournament on 17 occasions and have earned conference championships in 1955, 1991 and 2012 in the ACC. Regular season titles were earned in 1951, 1955, 1978 and 1989.

Home for the Seminoles since 1981 has been the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. Built by the City of Tallahassee, the venue was purchased in 2013 by the FSU Board of Trustees at which time a significant renovation took place. It was named after a former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and Special Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Donald L. Tucker, Esq. When the NCAA informed member institutions that teams with Native American nicknames and imagery would need to make changes, Florida State would negotiate a deal with the Seminole General Nation in 2005 and received a waiver from the NCAA.

Food & Beverage 4

The Tucker Center offers a solid selection of concession options available during basketball games. Pizza, nachos, hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, chips, burgers, fries, chicken tenders, and candy are available at a number of different concession locations throughout the concourse. For fans looking for something a little different, checking out the ‘Nole Grill may be of interest. Fans can get pulled chicken or BBQ pork shoulder on quesadillas, nachos, tacos or salad.

Coca-Cola products are the soft drink of choice at the Tucker Center and a variety of domestic and premium beers are offered at decent prices.

Atmosphere 4

From the exterior, the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center is clearly a product of early eighties architecture. Long and barn-like with a brown brick and concrete exterior, the Tucker Center is not close to the most aesthetically pleasing facility from the exterior. There is a distinct lack of natural light and windows as part of the facility, which was common for the architecture of the period. Probably the best view from the outside is from the corner of Pensacola Street and Boulevard Street. There, Florida State has installed a very smart looking welcome sign and video board.

Florida State has done all that it can on the inside to mitigate the deficiencies of the architecture of the time. The concourses, although devoid of natural light, are bright and full of Seminole markings, posters and history. There is even a nod to the famous mascot duo of Osceola and Renegade, whose participation in football pregame festivities is legendary.

Inside the seating area, fans are welcomed to a two tier seating area full of garner seats which provide excellent sight lines for basketball. The court runs from north to south with that perfect center logo photo from the west side. A plethora of banners exclaiming basketball honors hang along the east side of the center. The retired numbers of Dave Cowens, Bob Sura, Sam Cassell, Hugh Durham, Ron King and Dave Fedor also hang proudly in the rafters. At centre court, a modern four-sided video board with ribbon board hangs, commanding the attention of patrons. Each of the four corners of the seating bowl also features a video board. A strange and unique occurrence in the seating bowl is that the rows are lettered in descending order with A at the top heading down toward the court.

The gamed day production at a Seminoles game is what is to be expected at a college basketball game. The cheerleaders and dance team, known as the FSU Golden Girls, perform during down moments and at commercial breaks. The band is situated at the north end of the arena and adds to the college ambience.

Neighborhood 5

The Tucker Center is located at the southeast corner of the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee. It is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and bordered by Pensacola, Boulevard, Madison and Macomb Streets. It is also part of the Madison Mile, which includes other athletic facilities, including Doak Campbell Stadium.

As with many college campuses, there are plenty of bars and restaurants within walking distance of campus. Some spots that may intrigue fans include Wilbury, Nefetaries, Gaines Street Pies, Voodoo Dog, Z Baked, Chef Shac’s, The Egg Cafe, Brick House and LOTSA Stone Fried Pizza. Andrew’s Downtown and Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille are also worth a look.

Tallahassee is a government and college town. As a result, the other sporting options in Tallahassee are really related to Florida State. The football team plays at Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium and the baseball team plays at nearby Dick Howser Stadium. Other spots in Tallahassee worth checking out include Florida State Capitol and the Museum of Florida History.

Fans requiring to stay near campus should consider the Residence Inn and the Hampton Inn.

Fans 4

Support for the FSU basketball team has seen an increase over the past few seasons. With increases in home fan attendance from 2017 through 2019, the 2018-2019 season saw the team average over 9,000 fans per game. Considering the capacity of the Tucker Center is just over 11,000, this bodes well for those in attendance who hope for a solid fan atmosphere. The game which was reviewed was on New Years Eve, a time where the campus is predominantly empty and fan support in college basketball is low. There were over 6,000 fans in attendance, mostly from the community. The student section was understandably sparse, but is a solid scene when classes are in session.

Access 4

Donald Tucker Center is located at the southeast corner of the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee. It is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and bordered by Pensacola, Boulevard, Madison and Macomb Streets. Getting to the arena is not too difficult. The arena is approximately 6 km south of I-10, the main highway into Tallahassee, so there will be a bit of travel through the city, but traffic is not too bad. There is plenty of parking in the Tucker Center lot or one of the surface lots or parking garages within walking distance. For fans who wish to take public transit, there are bus stops around the Tucker Center. Fans should check out the StarMetro website for schedules, maps and fares.

Many college basketball facilities treat security in the same manner that large professional teams do. As a result, it is imperative for fans to consult the Florida State Seminoles and Donald Tucker Center websites for the most up to date security expectations before heading to the basketball game. Getting around the arena is not difficult, especially on the date of this review and washroom facilities are adequate for this facility.

Return on Investment 4

Admittedly not the biggest basketball attraction in the ACC, fans will be pleasantly surprised with the value that is found in a Florida State Seminoles basketball game. Tickets for the Seminoles are very affordable from $15 to $35 and the experience may not be the legendary one that can be found in North Carolina, but it is not an outlier in the conference. Fans will have a great time, watch some high caliber basketball and not have to worry about dipping into the kids’ college fund to pay for it. Although Florida State may not be the once in a lifetime experience, it is definitely the kind of experience which will keep fans coming back and the price point is a big part of that.

Extras 3

An extra mark for big Florida State rivalries with Miami, Florida and Clemson.

An extra mark for being an important part of one of the top basketball conferences in the country.

An extra mark for an agreement with the Seminole General Nation to keep their ties to the Native American tribe and for doing it in the right way.

Final Thoughts

The ACC may be a basketball conference known for North Carolina and Duke and Florida State may be known as a football school first, but fans should not sleep on Florida State Seminoles basketball. A great experience at a great price, Florida State will surprise basketball fans who wish to experience a college atmosphere and make fans want to come back for more.

Follow all of Dave’s sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9 and on Instagram.

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