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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Henrico Sports & Events Center – Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Tournament


Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Henrico Sports & Events Center 11000 Telegraph Rd Glen Allen, VA 23059



Year Opened: 2023

Capacity: 3,500

 

A-10 Hoops North of Richmond

The Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Tournament has been held at multiple locations over the years. At first, it was held mainly in on-campus arenas, but in 2013, it was played for the first time at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. From 2014 to 2018, the tournament was played at the Richmond Coliseum in Downtown Richmond, but the aging arena closed in 2019, and the A-10 moved back on campus for a few years. In 2022 and 2023, the tournament was played at Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington, also home of the Delaware Blue Coats of the NBA G-League.


In 2024, the A-10 Tournament was held at the newly-opened Henrico Sports & Events Center for the first time, as part of a two-year contract. The 3,500-seat arena is located in Henrico County (Pronounced Hen-RYE-co) in Richmond's northern suburbs. In addition to the main arena, there are 12 other courts that are used for youth tournaments and other events.


Stadium Journey visited the Atlantic 10 Tournament for the two semifinal contests. As in most conference tournaments, the experience starts slow in the early rounds and builds towards the final. While this review attempts to cover the whole tournament, your experience will depend on which rounds you visit for.

 

Food & Beverage 4

There are several different places to buy food and drink at the Henrico Sports & Events Center. There is a concession area located in the lobby. Prepackaged options such as drinks, chips, and candy, as well as other options like cold sandwiches,, yogurt, and snack packs, can be picked up and purchased at a self-checkout area to expedite the process.


For fans who want hot options, these can be purchased at a counter in the concession stand area. The lines for this can get long at times, as there are only one or two workers taking orders, but they move quickly.  In addition to the numerous cold options, which can be paid for here as well, fans can purchase hot dogs, cheeseburgers, Chick-fil-A sandwiches, Papa John's personal pizzas, nachos, popcorn, and soft pretzels. Prices are reasonable - snacks will only run a few dollars and everything is under $9.


Alcohol is available at a separate stand in the lobby for fans of age. It cannot be purchased at the other stands.


There is a smaller stand in the arena itself that has far fewer options, but it usually has shorter lines and fans can watch the game while they wait.

 

Atmosphere 4

Walking through the entrance of the Henrico Sports & Events Center will put you in the main lobby. You will then scan your ticket and go through another set of doors to the arena itself. Seating is laid out in a U shape, with the entrance to the arena in the corner near the open end. A large videoboard hangs over center court and also shows the score, team fouls, and timeouts remaining. All seats are general admission chairbacks, except a few seats in the front rows which are reserved for VIPs. If you are eligible for these reserved seats, you know who you are; otherwise, there are still plenty of excellent seats for you to choose from. Just get there early if you have a particular presence.


There are 15 teams in the Atlantic 10 Conference and each of them bring their own band, cheerleaders, mascot, and traditions to the tournament. We do not have enough space to discuss each of them in great detail, but they are discussed further in those teams' review articles of their home arena. However, there are some specific examples that are worth mentioning here. St. Joseph's University's mascot is known simply as The Hawk, and he is legendary for flapping his wings non-stop throughout the game. Saint Louis's Billiken mascot and Richmond's Spider mascot are downright terrifying but tend to be fan favorites.


For any game, the bands from both schools will be in attendance, and will on occasion get into musical battles with each other, turning into a Battle on the Bands as well as what is going on on the court. For instance, when Stadium Journey visited, the Duquesne band repeatedly played "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" to taunt their opponents, the Richmond Spiders, although considering the spider in question was resilient enough to survive the rain and climb the spout again, its usefulness as a taunt is questionable.


The organizers run promotions on the court during most media timeouts, including games between fans, ceremonies honoring Atlantic 10 figures, and more. There is certainly plenty going on at the Atlantic 10 Tournament, both on and off the court.




 

Neighborhood 3

As mentioned above, the Henrico Sports & Events Center is located in Henrico County, Virginia, in Richmond's northern suburbs. There are numerous businesses along the major thoroughfares surrounding the arena, but most of them are chain restaurants. In particular, the Creeks at Virginia Centre shopping mall is located along Route 1 less than a mile away from the arena. This is a typical suburban area - it is certainly not the middle of nowhere but nor is it particularly glamorous.

  

Fans 4

With 15 teams in the Atlantic 10, each one brings their own fan base with their own unique traditions. In a 3,500-seat arena, the Atlantic 10 Tournament drew between two and three thousand fans for most sessions. A few of the early-round sessions drew under 2,000, while one drew a near-capacity crowd of over 3,000. Attendance builds as the final approaches, but it will also depend on who is playing in the session. In particular, the local fan bases of Richmond and VCU draw especially well if one of those teams is playing. George Mason and George Washington are based 90 minutes away in the DC area, so those fan bases can travel as well. However, every team's fan base will show up in decent numbers. When one team scores, their fans will erupt in cheers. When the other team scores, the rest of the fans will. There are too many fan bases and too many traditions to cover in great detail here, but you will get to experience all of them at the Atlantic 10 Tournament.



 

Access 4

The Henrico Sports & Events Center is located a short drive from Interstate 95 via Exit 86A. Ample parking is available in the large lots surrounding the arena, which are far bigger than they need to be. Since the arena is still relatively new, some GPS apps struggle to find it, but the entrance is clearly signed, so if you follow that even if the GPS tells you to go elsewhere, you will get here just fine.


Restrooms are available on both sides of the lobby - go back out the main arena doors and turn left or right and you will soon get there. They are clean and of a sufficient size.


There are very narrow aisle behind the benches and media table to get from the one arena entrance to the seats. As a result, there can be a significant bottleneck of fans after the game, especially if it involves one of the Richmond teams and more fans are leaving. Normally you should have no problem getting out, it might just take a few minutes. However, if you are planning on staying for the second game of a session and are just stepping out momentarily to use the bathroom, you may find yourself having to fight the bottleneck in the opposite direction to get back to your seat. This is not too difficult, it is just annoying.

 

Return on Investment 4

 Tickets are $22 for every session except the final, which is $26. Other than the final, every session gives fans the chance to see two games. In early rounds, two sessions are played per day, one in the afternoon and one at night. For a chance to see a competitive college basketball tournament in March, this is an excellent value. Concessions are also affordable and parking is free, making the Atlantic 10 women's basketball tournament a great deal for what you're paying.

 

Extras 2

There is a merchandise table at the open end of the arena that sells conference merchandise.


Look for the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in the lobby, honoring some of the top athletes, coaches, and other sports leaders from the Commonwealth of Virginia.




 

Final Thoughts

The Henrico Sports & Events Center is a gorgeous new arena, and the Atlantic 10 Conference made the right choice returning their tournament to the Richmond area. With 15 loyal fan bases, 15 different sets of traditions, and an excellent value for families, the Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Tournament is well worth checking out for any fan of the sport.

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