College basketball arenas in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) each have their own histories, traditions, nicknames, records and stories. So picking the best SEC basketball arena is a subjective exercise. But, three objective factors we think important are:
Based on these factors, one SEC basketball venue stands out: The University of Arkansas', Bud Walton Arena.
Bud Walton Arena on the University of Arkansas Campus, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, has been home to the Razorbacks basketball team since 1993. Seating just over 19,000 screaming fans, the arena is the fifth largest basketball facility, on a college campus, in the country. It is affectionately nicknamed the "Basketball Palace of Mid-America" by its many admirers.
Over the past twelve years, Bud Walton Arena and its Razorbacks have drawn over 3.5 million fans which has ranked the arena among national attendance leaders every season. But the Razorbacks haven't always played in such magnificent basketball arena.
Before becoming a part of the Southeastern Conference in 1992, Arkansas had a very successful basketball team. In fact, the Razorbacks, then coached by Nolan Richardson, had been to March Madness' Final Four in their previous season. However, their basketball home at the time, Barnhill Arena, sat only 9,000 and was not befitting of the top-notch basketball team, Athletic Director Frank Boyles, planned to build in the SEC. He knew that in order to compete with the more established schools Barnhill had to go and they needed a new top-flight arena to announce their presence.
As luck would have it, Bud Walton, co-founder of Wal-Mart, took an interest in seeing the Razorbacks succeed in their new conference. He asked Broyles what he thought the school needed most in order to be competitive in the SEC. Broyles explained their basketball arena predicament to Walton, who in turn asked how much a new arena would cost. Broyles came up with $30 million as a nice round number, and Walton agreed to pay half.
In June of 1992, plans wrapped up for the new basketball arena and the ground was broken. The massive stadium was constructed in a record 18 months time. The team played their first game in their new home in November, 1993. The Razorbacks went 16-0 at home and were the 1993-1994 SEC regular season champs and won College Basketball's National Championship in 1994.
In 2004, Bud Walton Arena (BWA) celebrated its tenth season with a brand new custom scoreboard in the shape of a basketball hoop. At 24' long by 22' tall, it holds four video screens, each of them 12'6" wide by 8'10" tall. In 2005, BWA went through even greater renovations when the Razorbacks received an expanded locker room, including a luxurious and spacious lounge.
Inside Bud Walton Arena, Hog Heaven is the place where fans can purchase Razorback gear all year long, not exclusively during the season. As if all this wasn't enough, the arena also includes a museum and displays that memorialize recent Razorback highlights. According to Rosser International in Atlanta, the architectural minds behind Bud Walton Arena, the arena holds more seats in less space than any other such facility in the world.
The University of Arkansas' Bud Walton Arena is simply an entertaining, often electric, place to watch a great college basketball game. BWA has world-class size; is an on-campus facility; and, has a first-rate basketball tradition and history.
It's hard to argue with naming Bud Walton Arena as the Best SEC Basketball Arena.
For more about Arkansas basketball, go to 2007-2008 Arkansas Basketball; 2006 - 2007 Arkansas Razorbacks Basketball; and, Arkansas Razorbacks Basketball History.
Interested in great SEC stadiums and arenas? If so, you should definitely read:
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Rupp Arena is the Best!
Are you kidding me? Rupp Arena is the best SEC B-ball Arena, if not the best NCAA arena without a doubt. Rupp Arena is the most electric and entertaining …
Thompson-Bowling Arena Not rated yet
Since the renovations done a couple years ago adding the skybox seats & blacking out the rest of the seats I think Tennessee's Thompson - Bowling Arena …
RUPP Arena Wins Hands Down!!! Not rated yet
Why does it matter if it's on campus or not? It's not the distance that matters. We got an arena just for UK basketball. We always win the national attendance …
Calipari Conundrum Not rated yet
Geez, Kentucky fans are annoying. You have the Greatest Basketball Program and the Greatest Team and the Greatest Fans, yes you do. A goochie goochie goochie …
what? rupp arena is the best Not rated yet
no, you guys are way off, i bet this was published from an arkansas fan, we all know the best arena in sec is rupp arena, and it's probably the best in …
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