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  • Marc Viquez

Ford Center – Evansville Purple Aces


Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Ford Center 5600 Division St. Evansville, IN 47715

Ford Center website

Evansville Purple Aces website


Year Opened: 2011

Capacity: 10,000

 

It’s All Aces in Evansville

The Ford Center in downtown Evansville, Indiana has been to the home to the University of Evansville men’s’ basketball program since 2010. The construction of the $127.5 million facility helped bring the university into the 21st century replacing the 54-year-old. The venue hopes to be the centerpiece of entertainment for the city incorporating a gorgeous design that is both modern and contemporary.

The facility holds 8,930 spectators for basketball games and features 21 suites that can accommodate a wide range of individuals, curved spaces that offer wide open window scenes to the downtown area, and every seat is padded for comfort. It is the type of venue the city has been searching for and very impressive for a basketball team in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Food & Beverage 3

There are various concession areas throughout the main concourse that offers hot dogs, bratwurst, chicken tenders, pizza, mini corn dogs, French fries, popcorn, pretzels, and nachos. The prices are reasonable, and there is something for everyone. The more unique options are highlighted by chipotle cheddar burgers, loaded nachos with chicken or beef, pork tenderloin sandwiches, and grilled chicken sandwiches. The nachos are big enough to share for two and are a bargain at $8.

If you are with the kids, they will enjoy chicken tender baskets and Dippin’ Dots ice cream.

Bud and Bud Light cans sell for $7.25 a can and local Carson’s Red Dawn and Tin Man Rivet are on tap for $8. Wine and well drinks are also available costing between $7.25-$8.

Atmosphere 3

There is a large contingency that attends games throughout the season. The arena is a modern facility that would look beautiful and stunning in most major downtown locations. It does not have a lot of history or character, but it’s a beautiful place to watch a basketball game and when you’re surrounded by thousands of screaming fans, it’s easy to get into the game. For these reasons, the atmosphere borderlines on good to great.

There are two levels of seats inside the Ford Center, but the majority of the seating upstairs is closed off by a black tarp. The bottom section on one side is wide open and features a party area that serves alcohol. The arena feels like a hockey facility that also incorporates basketball, but there are still some great views and angles inside and outside of the court.

The main halls outside of the playing area may remind many of the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky, where open concept windows, arched wooden paneling, and modern design add a special ambiance.

However, there seems to be a lot of empty space inside the arena that seems wasted. For example, the majority of fans convene in about half of the concession area and are not spread out all around the concourse where there could be more food options set up. There is a lot of room for portable stands, merchandise tables, and information kiosks that could add a lot of potential to this arena.

Neighborhood 3

The Ford Center is in a nice part of downtown that appears to be up and coming. Fans walking the streets before and after the game are within a stone’s throw away from the Backstage Bar and Grill, Milano Italian Cuisine, and the Children’s Museum.

Less than two miles away is Franklin Street which offers a few additional great restaurants including Lamasco Bar, Gerst Haus, and on Saturdays from late June to September the Franklin Street Bazaar. Tin Man and Carson’s Brewery are two great places for craft beer, especially Carson’s where one can sample 25 different beers including Vanilla Cow, Sweet Leaf, and Red Hot Harlot, cinnamon-infused honey blonde ale. Tami will serve you quite well in the tasting room.

There are plenty of lodging options in Evansville. They include the Fairfield Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Suites, and Baymont Inn & Suites. The only decision is price and location, but you’re sure to find a nice price somewhere in town.

Fans 4

Everybody loves a winner and when the Aces are winning the fans come out in masses. Everywhere you look around the arena there are fans sporting the colors of purple and orange. You can also hear the decibel levels reach outstanding proportions based on the number of buckets scored by the home team. They really enjoy a winning team and when they play inside a beautiful arena, you’re going to have some loud and passionate fans.

Access 4

Being a downtown location you would think it would be difficult to find a parking spot. However, that is not the case for the Ford Center. There is free parking a couple blocks away from the arena in vast lots. Many locals complain about the distance, but the walk does not seem to be that much of a problem. Inside the arena, there are plenty of restrooms that serve both men, women, and families.

Return on Investment 3

The tickets are reasonable for most basketball games played at the Ford Center. One could grab a ticket for as low as $15 or as high as $45. It all depends on how much you want to spend for a college basketball game. When you include free parking and affordable concession prices, you have a pretty good deal.

Extras 3

The arena has all the bells and whistles of a modern 21st-century sports and entertainment facility.

The fans are incredibly loud inside the facility. It might just be the acoustics inside the building, but the cacophony from the 6,000 or so in attendance is ear piercing

In the main lobby, there is a very nice display of Aces history that includes the five Division II championships won by the team between 1959 and 1971 under legendary coach Arad McCutchan, along with famous alumni including Jerry Sloan. There is also a memorial to the 1977 Air Indiana Flight 216 crash that killed 24 members of the basketball team.

Final Thoughts

What I enjoy most about the Ford Center is that the modern, sleek, and state of art facility is perfect for the city. It does not try to be something it’s not. It’s a great entertainment option for southwest Indiana and should be home for Purple Aces basketball for many more decades. It’s definitely an eye-catching facility, and being able to take in a game at affordable prices with free parking makes this a great option.


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