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  • Writer's pictureMichael Davis

Lloyd Noble Center - Oklahoma Sooners

Photos by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Lloyd Noble Center 2900 Jenkins Ave Norman, OK 73072

Year Opened: 1975 Capacity: 11,562


Oklahoma’s Lloyd Noble Center

Lloyd Noble Center is an 11,562-seat multi-purpose venue on the University of Oklahoma campus. The Lloyd Noble Center or LNC opened on October 27, 1975. The arena is home to both of the Sooners’ basketball programs as well as the women’s gymnastics team. These Lloyd Noble Center's tenants have accumulated a combined eight Final Four appearances, three national championships, and 47 conference titles. The Sooners men’s basketball team has a 549-102 record (.843 winning percentage) in Lloyd Noble Center since the building opened in 1975. The largest crowd to witness a basketball game inside LNC was on December 29, 2003, as 13,431 fans watched OU beat UT-Pan American 72-57.

Food & Beverage 3

The Lloyd Noble Center concessions are all situated along the upper concourse. The food and drink options are basic, and rightfully so as there is not a real need to go above the menu that is offered inside LNC. One of the arena workers mentioned that the best food option is Chick-fil-A; Chick-fil-A offers three items on their menu – a chicken sandwich for $7, waffle fries for $3, and a cookie for $4. Besides Chick-fil-A, there is another outside vendor with Pizza Hut offering a personal pan pizza or a Hershey’s chocolate chip cookie pizza for $6.50. Pizza Hut tries to bundle their items with a pan pizza, cookie, and a regular soda for $17.

The other concessions inside Lloyd Noble Center that have a larger menu selection are Sooner Street Tacos for Tex-Mex or the Sooner Smokehouse for BBQ. Three items at the Sooner Smokehouse cost $10.25; the pulled pork nachos and the pulled pork or smoked turkey sandwiches. Brisket sandwiches are two dollars more than the other sandwiches, while a two-meat platter is $15.50 and served with either coleslaw or a bag of chips. The combo of adding a souvenir soda for $16.50 and is the best option for price at this stand. Alternatively, Sooner Street Tacos cost $7 for two tacos (beef or pork), while the chicken fajita nachos cost $10 and are the best option at this stand.

Beside the above, there are basic food items available at Sooner Snacks stands inside Lloyd Noble Center such as a Bavarian pretzel for $6.50, jumbo hot dog for $5.25, souvenir popcorn for $7.50 and the smaller popcorn for $5.50, theater size candy for $4.50, and peanuts for $4. Lloyd Noble Center also serves Coca-Cola products, including Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero, Diet Coke, Sprite, and water – the price for soda is $6.25 for the souvenir cup, $4.25 for the regular size, and $5 for a 20 oz bottle, and bottled water costs $4.50 for the same 20-oz. bottle. A small selection is available for alcoholic beverages at a cost of $8.50 for a 20 oz serving; Bud Light, Landshark, Michelob Ultra, or Ziegenbock.

Atmosphere 4

Every college basketball game depends on its student section. OU’s students stand at the baseline next to the Sooners basketball band, which is a small group of band members from the larger, more well-known Pride of Oklahoma; the full member Pride of Oklahoma is commonly seen at Oklahoma football games. But the students at Lloyd Noble Center do an uncommon pregame ritual – each seat is stocked with a newspaper and a piece of paper that contains a chant sheet and the lineup of the opposing team, complete with stats and comical insults. The students are expected to read up on their opponents and proceed to yell the insults at them which are insults included in their bios. This practice doesn’t necessarily stop with chants, either, as signs are also made for each day’s opponent. The students hold up these sighs, which feature derogatory comments about the opposing team, for example, one sign reads that “Lubbock is too dusty to be seen on a map,” referring to the home of Texas Tech University.

In addition, there are also life-size cutouts of OU basketball players’ heads, and students dressed up in all manner of crazy costumes including a banana. The chant sheet instructs the students to read the newspaper during the announcement of the opponent’s lineup. The newspaper is then torn up into tiny pieces and thrown into the air like confetti upon OU’s announcement of “Introducing your Oklahoma Sooners’ starting lineup!” The lights of the stadium are turned off, and the fans then turn on their phone’s flashlights and wave them in the air in anticipation. Also, with every player announcement, a red burst of fire erupts from the top of each of the basketball hoops at each end of the court. Also, like at other basketball games when the home team is shooting a free throw, you’ll hear “One’s up” and the students will raise their arms holding up the number one until the OU player has shot his basket; the One’s up is in conjunction with the school’s motto of “There is Only One Oklahoma!”

Besides the students, the spirit squads made from OU’s Cheer and Pom Squads are always involved in entertaining and keeping the crowd’s energy towards the game. The squad includes Boomer and Sooner, who are the costumed mascots that represent the University of Oklahoma, although the official mascot is the Sooner Schooner. Both Boomer and Sooner will interact with the crowd throughout LNC.

Although predominately used during football games, the Oklahoma Ruf/Neks and Lil Sis have a part in the basketball game day program. This rowdy group will run around the court and throw t-shirts into whichever section of the crowd cheers the loudest during timeouts. The OU band plays “Boomer Sooner” throughout the entire game, and this song will echo through LNC non-stop. The song will be so overly played that even the opposing fans will have the high-pitched tune in their heads. The song is a combination of Yale’s “Boola Boola” and North Carolina’s “I’m a Tarheel born.” Of course, the band will also play one of the most famous songs associated with the state of Oklahoma; Richard Rodgers’ “Oklahoma.”

Neighborhood 3

The University of Oklahoma is a coeducational public research university located in the city of Norman, Oklahoma. The city of Norman is 20 miles south of Oklahoma City, and has a population of 120,284, making Norman the third-largest city in the state behind Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The OU campus has a student population close to 31,000.

Lloyd Noble Center is located on the south side of campus near OU’s baseball stadium; L. Dale Mitchell Park. The neighborhood around the ballpark is more residential, with the fast food chain Sonic being the closest restaurant, but there is also a Rudy’s BBQ down the road. The location is secluded; to get to anything with larger crowds you need to go to the other side of campus, to the popular Campus Corner area.

The Campus Corner area is on the opposite side of campus about a mile north from LNC at W. Boyd Street. This area has numerous restaurants, including Oklahoma’s well-known Hideaway Pizza. Volare is another pizza choice that fans seem to enjoy, and The Porch, The Library Bar and Grill, O’Connell’s Irish Pub & Grill, and Seven47 are great drinking holes with food. In addition, Pepe Delgados is a great choice for fans that are looking for Tex-Mex. The Mont is also a good recommendation, located just off E Boyd Street on Classen Blvd; here you can enjoy a brunch on their patio. Also, just north of the Campus Corner area is Main Street in downtown Norman, where I would suggest The Garage for people looking for a great lunch burger.

The Oklahoma City area has so much to offer to visitors that a lot of people are surprised when they visit. Bricktown is a great spot for the traveling baseball fan; this neighborhood is home to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, home of the Oklahoma City Dodgers (Pacific Coast League team for the LA Dodgers).

Oklahoma City will probably be on most tourist lists, but Norman, Oklahoma has a few tourist attractions of its own. The first stop is The University of Oklahoma campus – the campus, besides being a beautiful campus to walk around during baseball season, is home to a couple of nice museums, including the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. These two museums will surely make it a wonderful educational trip. However, a visit to the University of Oklahoma wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the school’s football program; Heisman Park is located outside Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, and is a great photo op for fans.

In terms of lodging, the Riverwind Casino is about 4.5 miles from Lloyd Noble Center; this is the closest choice for lodging. However, there are plenty of places to stay near campus including Hampton Inn-Norman and Fairfield Inn & Suites, which are both just down Ed Noble Parkway from W. Main Street near Interstate 35.

Fans 4

Oklahoma’s basketball attendance seems to depend on the team’s star players and record. Over the last decade attendance has been sporadic with a drop then a rise in attendance. The 2008-09 season average was always near capacity, as over 11,490 fans per game watched future NBA players Blake Griffin, Willie Warren, and Taylor Griffin. Attendance dropped afterwards, however, until the next future Sooners star Buddy Hield played in Norman – attendance reached a high of about 11,000 fans per content during the 2015-16 Final Four season, but once Buddy left for the NBA attendance saw a dramatic drop of 2,000 fans per game for Sooners basketball.

More recently Lloyd Noble Center has an average basketball attendance of 9,538 which is respectful, but the most recent game only had an estimated attendance of 6,612. These statistics are pretty much in line with the fact that Oklahoma is a football school, and thus other sports are just filling in time between football seasons. The irony though is the fans are perhaps the best part of the experience at Lloyd Noble Center; even when low in numbers the Sooners fans give the Sooners a home court advantage. These fans have led Oklahoma to the second-best home arena record in the Big 12 behind only Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse.

Access 4

Access to Lloyd Noble Center is relatively easy. This is partly due to the arena being in a secluded part of campus, away from the main artery streets of Norman. It is a short drive from Interstate-35 to the campus, and there are plenty of ways to get to the arena. The easiest route to Lloyd Noble Center is to take exit 108A/B from Interstate-35 onto Route 9, then take a left onto W. Imhoff Road; at the third traffic light.

Lloyd Noble Center has plenty of free parking around the venue – there are 4,707 paved and marked parking spaces within the lighted lot, which is patrolled by the OU Police Department on a regular basis. However, this parking is divided up into Sooner Club, VIP, and Public Parking; the public parking entrances are directly off Imhoff Road making the flow of traffic very easy. Parking is on a first-come, first-served basis, so how early you arrive will determine how quickly you will find an open spot, and how close it will be to the venue. Regardless, there is the typical long line of cars waiting to exit the lot after the game.

The venue doors open 90 minutes prior to each event for all guests, and there is no re-entry at Lloyd Noble Center. Lloyd Noble Center security is under the clear bag policy, meaning your items must fit inside an approved clear plastic bag with a maximum size of 12 x 6 x 12 inches, or a one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag, and even these bags are subject to search. Non-transparent clutch purses no larger than 4.5 x 6.5 inches are also permitted, with bags necessary for medical equipment being searched at marked medical lanes at each gate. No other bags or purses (including diaper bags) are permitted, and the limit on bags is one per person. Express lanes remain in place at each gate for those who do not bring bags to Lloyd Noble Center.

Besides the clear bag policy, all entrances have metal detectors, but fans need only to empty cell phones, keys, and metal objects larger than keys from their pockets before screening. Fans are NOT required to remove belts, shoes, or other small items such as coins, jewelry, or watches.

The arena floor is approximately 15,575 square feet around and the ceiling is 51 feet high. LNC is a bowl with two concourses circulating the arena. All seating sections, restrooms, and concessions are clearly marked throughout Lloyd Noble Center, so overall, access is above average for fans traveling to Oklahoma for basketball.

Return on Investment 4

Oklahoma Basketball has three levels of seating – lower level sideline, lower baseline, and upper level, and the ticket prices are based on which seating level you are in. In addition, whether the game is non-conference vs. conference affects the price, as well as what day the game is, but most of the single game ticket prices range between $20 for upper level and $85 for lower level sideline.

Extras 3

The University of Oklahoma consists of Cherokee Gothic red brick architecture, and is a wonderful campus to walk around if the weather permits. The centerpiece of the campus is Oklahoma’s Gaylord Memorial Stadium and OU’s Heisman Park – this is a must visit for all college football fans, as Heisman Park displays statues in honor of Sooners players who have won the award over the years.

Oklahoma also does a wonderful job in displaying items from all three programs that call Lloyd Noble Center home. The most recent addition to LNC is Legacy Court – this museum-like exhibit chronicles the history of basketball at OU, and features both the men's and women's programs' most prominent players, coaches, and accomplishments. This exhibit, which also serves as the entry way into the OU basketball offices, is officially open to the public from 9-5 pm Monday thru Friday. On game days, however, Legacy Court opens when the arena does and closes a half hour after the conclusion of the game.

Final Thoughts

Lloyd Noble Center isn’t among the better basketball arenas in the Big 12 Conference such as Allen Fieldhouse, Hilton Coliseum, or instate rival’s Gallagher-Iba Arena. However, LNC is an above-average basketball arena that can become a great place to watch college basketball. The venue and the Sooners fans here have the potential to give Sooner basketball games a unique atmosphere, so any college basketball fan will enjoy attending a basketball game here at OU’s Lloyd Noble Center.

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