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  • Meg Minard

Walkup Skydome – Northern Arizona Lumberjacks


Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.57

J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome 1705 S San Francisco St Flagstaff, AZ 86011


Northern Arizona Lumberjacks website

J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome website


Year Opened: 1977

Capacity: 7,000

 

Elevation 7000

The Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks basketball team plays their home games at 42-year-old J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Arizona. The dome is a massive wood-span structure that covers 6.2 acres with the roof spanning more than 500 feet and rising 142 feet above the playing surface.

Opened in 1977, it is used for NAU’s football, basketball, indoor track & field, as well as other sports and entertainment events.


The Lumberjacks have played in the Big Sky Conference since 1970 and have appeared in two NCAA Tournaments (1998 and 2000).


Food & Beverage 2

Two concession stands are open for basketball games; one on each side of the concourse with basic stadium food on offer for relatively decent prices. Choices include hot dogs, nachos, pretzels ($2.75 - $5.50) and two value meals – hot dog, popcorn, 16-oz Pepsi or BBQ sandwich, popcorn, 16-oz Pepsi for $6. Fountain Pepsi products run $3 - $3.75 with bottled water, hot chocolate, and coffer also served.


Beer is only sold in the VIP section called True Blue Lounge located on the floor behind one of the baskets.

Either value meal is the best bet, however, we recommend not eating at the dome but head downtown Flagstaff just a mile and a half away to find local places for refreshments.


Atmosphere 2

While the Walkup Skydome is suited well for football, it falls short for basketball.


The basketball court is placed in the middle of an indoor football surface. Only five seating sections are open for basketball games. The court only takes up ½ the football configuration and looks out of place and unimportant.

Twenty-one inch-wide, blue-plastic, fold-down stadium seats with no cup holders make up the seating sections. Sit in section 113 to see logo right side up. Yellow seats spell out NAU but are centered for the football configuration; not the basketball.


The sound system and video boards (one on each end) are the technological highlight of the venue with extremely crisp, clear videos and sound. No center hung video scoreboard is available and that suits this arena just fine. Marching band music is piped in when the Lumberjacks take the court.


Some promotions are offered during timeouts and half time: kids run the court and shoot baskets, t-shirt tosses, and the like. A kid’s bounce house is inflated pregame and halftime but deflated during play.

A humming noise (from lights? the electronics?) permeates the dome throughout the game which is distracting.


Neighborhood 2

NAU is a pretty campus and when attending in the winter, you’ll see plenty of snow-capped mountains and pine trees.


Downtown Flagstaff, just 1 – 2 miles away, is the place for dining and a beverage. Some recommended choices are: Pizzicletta (wood-fired pizza), Tourist Home All Day Café (breakfast/lunch), Proper Meats + Provisions (sandwiches), and a few blocks north Josephine's Modern American Bistro (New American). Flagstaff has several breweries: Dark Sky Brewing, Flagstaff Brewing, Mother Road, and Lumberyard are a few in the downtown area to enjoy before or after a game.


Other things to visit when in Flagstaff include the Lowell Observatory or just visit the Historic Downtown and Railroad District. And, the Grand Canyon National Park is a little over an hour drive away.


Other sports include the NAU football team, or take an hour and 15 min drive down to Prescott Valley and see the Northern Arizona Suns basketball (G League).


If traveling from out of town, every kind of hotel chain in a variety of price ranges is available a mile or two from the university for a night’s sleep. Recommended choices include Hampton Inn & Suites Flagstaff, SpringHill Suites by Marriott Flagstaff, and LaQuinta Inn & Suites Flagstaff. Plenty more are in the area.


Fans 2

The arena is just too big for basketball. That includes the fan attendance and the court.

In the last few years, attendance has averaged just around 1,000 fans per game. This makes attending a game at a venue that holds 7,000 pretty skimpy with not a whole lot of energy running through the stands.

The fans in attendance do their best to support their team and stand and applaud and when appropriate and they should be commended.


Access 4

Getting to and in and around the Walkup Dome is quite simple. The university is at the junction of I-40 and I-17 - right off I-17, with plenty of free parking just adjacent to the arena. The box office is located outside the east entrance (behind the Lumberjack statue) and opens a few minutes before the doors open.

Flagstaff has a small airport about 5 miles out of town with services from Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, and Phoenix provided by United Airlines and American Airlines. Flights are limited. Mountain Link is the public bus transportation provider in Flagstaff with Maroon Route 10 servicing the university. It does not appear the service is available for returning from late weekend evening games.


A clear bag policy is stated but wasn’t enforced during the visit of this review. Not sure if that’s the case for all basketball games.


Once inside, the concourse is plenty wide for the fan base and steps down to the court have hand rails. Bathrooms are clean and serviceable.


Return on Investment 3

Ticket prices listed range from $8 (GA) to $12 (reserved and premium reserved) plus an additional $4 fee per ticket. This is not an extra fee when purchasing game day; just an extra fee imposed by Northern Arizona University. The pricing is misleading as it does not include the extra fee. So, single-game pricing is really $12 - $16. NAU students get in free.


NAU has giveaways on some nights so this might increase the return on your sports dollar.

Parking is free and concession prices are very reasonable.


Extras 3

Be sure to get a photo taken with the Lumberjack statue outside the east entrance.

Trophies and photos of all NAU athletics line portions of the concourse’s Hall of Fame and banners hang from the rafters of the arena.


Walkup Skydome is one of the highest NCAA basketball courts in the US with an elevation of 7000 feet above sea level.


Final Thoughts

Flagstaff is a quintessential college town with plenty of outdoor activities, local entertainment, cultural events, bars, breweries, and restaurants. Visiting an NAU basketball game isn’t high on the list of things to do but, if in town during the winter and spring, perhaps a visit to the Walkup Skydome might be in order just to say you did.

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