Arena Evaluation: Oklahoma
Posted: Friday March 9, 2007 5:12PM; Updated: Friday March 9, 2007 5:12PM
The Lloyd Noble Center is a delightfully large 11,000-seat arena that shuns luxury boxes and upper decks to keep fans close to the action. It keeps a low profile on the University of Oklahoma's Norman campus -- partially because the majority of the building is below ground level and partially because it is not the football stadium.
Still, basketball passion has increased in recent years as the Sooners have begun to contend in the Big 12. SI on Campus was on hand for a Senior Day matchup against the Kansas Jayhawks. The home team didn't win, but a close game kept the capacity crowd in their seats to the very end. Let's see how the Lloyd Noble Center stacks up...
It was a white-out in Norman, meaning all the fans were given white shirts. Surprisingly, just about everyone wore the shirt, creating a cool effect inside the arena. A few scattered Jayhawks fans broke the trend, but on the whole the white-out lived up to its goals and provided a fun atmosphere.
Even when the game was close down the stretch, the volume never hit incredibly loud levels. The fans were yelling, but it was negated by the design of the arena, which pushes seats too far away from the action. It's unlikely that any of the players were disrupted at any point.
The concourses are reminiscent of an airport terminal, with wide walkways and directional signs everywhere. As for the arena itself, it's a great multi-purpose facility that comfortably accommodates fans but lacks the history or intimidation factor of its counterpart to the north, Oklahoma State's Gallagher-Iba Arena. Sooners fans dismayed by the comparison do have one point of pride: Lloyd Noble was the first Big 12 arena to install a video board.
When dealing with the Oklahoma Sooners, there's really only one chant you need to know: Boomer Sooner. The fans yell it constantly, the band plays it endlessly and visiting fans leave with the tune stuck in their head for the next 18 weeks. This was the final home game of the year, so many of the signs paid tribute to the departing seniors, always a classy touch.
It took this reporter a good 15 minutes to locate the student section, which is never a good sign. They sat down during some time outs and were otherwise undistinguishable from the rest of the fans. They can take heart, though: spring football is just weeks away.
Total: 32 (out of 50)