- DeRon Talley
University Center – Southeastern Louisiana Lions
Photo Credit Randy Bergeron, Sports Information
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.43
University Center W University Ave. Hammond, LA 70402
Southeastern Louisiana Lions website
Year Opened: 1982
Get a Room at the University Center
In Washington, D.C. there’s the Pentagon. Located in Hammond, LA there is an octagon where Southeastern Louisiana University basketball teams play their games in an arena called the University Center.
The University Center opened in 1982 and seats a little over 7,500 fans. But, on my visit there I’d lose money to bet if over 500 people attended the game.
Despite being a small university, competing in the Southland Conference, SLU lays it out for its fans to enjoy a basketball game. The SLU mascot is called Roomie the Lion. With a name like that it’s obvious the school likes to make things comfortable for its fans.
The Lions aren’t really known for much, other than being the alma mater of Good Morning America anchor, Robin Roberts. However, through the use of the University Center, the Lions can charm you.
Food & Beverage 2
The University Center doesn’t have any concession items that will amaze you, but the choices they have to offer are what you’d minimally expect anywhere. You get the basics: nachos, hot dog, popcorn, peanuts, and candy. Your drink selections are Coca-Cola products.
The atmosphere here is really relaxing. Almost to the point to where you might dose off for a quick nap. However, it wasn’t necessarily dull or boring because the university’s band entertains during media timeouts. The band plays traditional basketball music and you’ll hear the school’s fight song often.
The setup is pretty unique. There is a courtside section for the “Top Cats” where the area is set up like a lounge bar and has a couple bar tables with high chairs. There is a platform with two lazy boys on it and not to mention the courtside seats that put your toes almost on the court. I’m pretty sure that area is for the prestigious season ticket holders. It looked worth the investment though.
Hammond may not be a famous city in Louisiana or the United States, but the downtown area is very unique and offers a lot. There are some really good bars and pubs there that serve good beverages and food. I’d recommend going to the Cate Street Pub, you might even catch them on a karaoke night and really have a good time.
The University Center is a little over a mile from the downtown area and I highly recommend going to check it out. If you are looking for more of a sit-down restaurant, go to a Mexican restaurant called La Carretta and you’ll be in for a real treat there as well. If the downtown area is too much for you then there are other spots you can go that are even closer. You can choose between pizza, seafood, and barbecue within a reasonable distance.
I was really disappointed with the fan support. The courtside fans were older people who were probably alumni. Maybe it was because the students were out on break that attendance was so low when I visited the University Center. However it was a conference matchup and I thought it would have some good support, but I was wrong. The Athletic Department tried to make the game entertaining with games like: test your TV show knowledge and shooting contests, but the fans never hyped up much.
Finding Hammond and the University Center was very easy. I hopped right off the interstate and drove straight to it from the exit. You can’t miss running into the campus with the arena sitting to the left and the campus to the right. It’s a huge green octagon!
The parking was free, which always deserves an extra star. The parking lot is plenty spacious and convenient. I parked front row after showing up for the game a few minutes late. There weren’t many fans in attendance, but still even when the lot is full the walk to the arena isn’t a workout.
Return on Investment 3
Southland Conference competition isn’t bad, especially the game I went to because it was two teams from south Louisiana going at it – a little pride on the line. The tickets, of course, aren’t expensive at all. You can get a seat for about $8. This is easily a $15 night if you’re out by yourself, but I really recommend taking that extra mile or so to the downtown of Hammond.
I was really impressed with the “Top Cat” area and how it was set up. Next time I go, I will make sure to get a seat there and experience the Lions game from there. I feel that would be worth the investment.
All in all, the University Center is a clean, home-feeling arena that can really make you feel comfortable. Maybe even as comfortable as Roomie the Lion.