- Eric Moreno
Moody Coliseum – Abilene Christian Wildcats
Photos by Eric Moreno Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.14
Moody Coliseum 1600 Campus Court Abilene, TX 79699
Abilene Christian Wildcats website
Year Opened: 1968
Wildcats Roar at Moody Coliseum
Located on the wide-open plains of West Texas is the legendary frontier town of Abilene – it is home to the eponymous Abilene Christian University and their athletics programs, known far and wide as the Wildcats. The Wildcats have called the on-campus Moody Coliseum home since the 1968-69 season. That year, the men’s team took home the first of their three Southland Conference championships.
Over the years, the arena has become quite the home-court advantage for ACU. Heading into last season, the men’s basketball team held an all-time record of 368-206 in Moody Coliseum – a stellar .641 winning percentage, which includes a school record 44-game home court winning streak from 1984-88 under coach Mike Martin. The women’s teams have fared even better, with a winning percentage of .756 all-time at the arena, including a 49-game winning streak from 1995-1998.
What has made this out of the way arena located on the dusty plains of West Texas so tough for opponents yet so inviting for the home team Wildcats and their fans? Read on and I’ll share with you what I learned during my visit.
Food & Beverage 2
First things first, as you might interpret from the capacity of Moody Coliseum, it is by no means a large facility. I’m going to use the term “quaint” quite a bit for this review, but that’s not meant to be derogatory in any way.
With that said, let me share with you how the size of the overall facility impacts the food and beverage scene at Wildcats games. At Moody Coliseum there is only one concessions area available, and on the surface, this could be a problem as it tends to lead to bottle-necking and long lines during portions of Wildcats games.
However, I can tell you from personal experience that the staff on hand does a great job of working through that line quickly and efficiently. However, it is something to keep in mind in case you want to make a food run during a key portion of a game.
In terms of the actual fare that is provided, it is for the most part your standard options. They have hamburgers ($5) and hot dogs or chili dogs ($3 and $5, respectively), nachos – there is a loaded nachos option if you’re inclined to go that route – popcorn, and soft pretzels with cheese sauce (both $3; $7 for the loaded). For your drink options, they offer regular and large fountain sodas ($3 and $4) and bottled water and sports drinks ($$). Again, it’s pretty standard fare, but you should be able to find something to satisfy you.
The ACU Wildcats take great pride in what their athletic teams have accomplished over the years, and for good reason – they have done some great winning here in Abilene. You see this history celebrated all over Moody Coliseum, from trophy cases lining the hallways of the main concourse to the banners hanging from the rafters inside the gym.
Here is another instance where I will insert the term “quaint” – the seating is what you would call “intimate” if you were a realtor trying to sell a home. Fans feel like they’re sitting right on top of the court from virtually every seat in the house.
The sight lines are terrific and the acoustics are incredible. The crowd for the game I most recently attended wasn’t anywhere near capacity, but because of how the building is designed the noise and energy were pretty remarkable. It easily felt like twice as many people were in attendance than actually were there. This won’t ever be confused for Cameron Indoor Stadium, but it ain’t bad!
Moody Coliseum is located right on the ACU campus and is within walking distance of both Wildcat Stadium and Crutcher Scott Field, so if you time your visit right you might get the chance to double-dip and catch some other ACU games during your trip to Abilene.
Speaking of which, the “Friendly Frontier” of Abilene is pretty much the quintessential West Texas town. It is ruggedly individual, and you won’t be able to help but notice that from the second you step foot here. The town takes great pride in its western heritage, yet has completely embraced the eccentricities that have surged through the region in the past few decades. That might not make sense to someone who hasn’t visited this part of the country, but you’ll get it once you get here.
There is plenty to do in town before and after games, but you owe yourself the chance to just take a stroll through Abilene’s downtown. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time, and you can just imagine what the city was like when it was a booming cattle town at the turn of the 20th century.
Purple power is in full effect for Wildcats games at Moody Coliseum. ACU averaged just a little over 1,300 fans per game last season (2017-18), and I think that seems right based on what I experienced during my last visit. While the crowd was on the small side, they were pretty vocal and that translates well in terms of overall energy in the gym.
Again, you won’t confuse ACU games for some of the other larger college programs in the country, but I don’t believe you’ll be disappointed in your game experience either. The fans that come out are passionate about their team, and it shows.
Abilene, like all cities in this part of Texas, is a bit out of the way and not on the easy side to reach. It is just over two hours from Fort Worth, the nearest big city, but there are flights from there that go direct to Abilene Regional Airport if you’re inclined to go that route.
Once in Abilene the campus is easy to find, and once you spot Wildcat Stadium that is half the battle in getting to Moody Coliseum. Parking is free but it does fill up pretty fast, especially if there is another event going on at the same time. Keep that in mind when you plan your visit.
Return on Investment 2
General admission tickets to ACU Wildcats games at Moody Coliseum start at just $8 for adults and $5 for children – this is a pretty great bargain in my book. And with affordable concessions and free parking, you won’t break the bank when you catch some Division I hoops action at Moody Coliseum.
In terms of “Extras,” ACU offers all the standard tropes of college athletics. The basketball version of the Big Purple Marching Band sits in the stands near the student section, and the ACU cheerleaders and dance team perform on the sidelines and during breaks in the action. You can also find their mascot, Willie the Wildcat, “prowling” the stands and interacting with fans. While there isn’t much else in this area, it in no way will take away from your enjoyment of the game.
Again, the operative word to describe Moody Coliseum is quaint. I was really struck by how close I was to the action on the court, and by how loud the home crowd was in comparison to the number in attendance.
In many cases, quaint is simply a euphemism for “small.” However, when it comes to Moody Coliseum quaint is used the way it is meant to be used. I had a great time during my visit to ACU – I always do – and I am confident you will enjoy your visit as well.
Follow Eric Moreno’s Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477. Visit Eric Moreno’s writer’s portfolio site at ericmoreno.contently.com.