State Farm Arena – Atlanta Hawks

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Getting there 

Atlanta is a beautiful but small city. If you are staying in Atlanta you will be able to walk to the game. If you are a bit further out there is plenty of parking available right next to the venue and a little bit further away if you don’t mind a short walk. 

The Venue

This a is a nice big modern venue. It’s well signposted but they have plenty of staff around who can help if you need them. 

Seats

Looking around it seemed that you would get a good view from all seats. The have a massive jumbotron as well. 

We paid to sit fairly near the front not realising that this meant we would have access to the players club. If you are in Atlanta and you can afford it you should definitely check this out. The seats are padded and comfortable, although not necessarily wider than other seats. With your ticket you get access to an area with a large bar and two food stands. From there you can see the players make their way to the court and you can watch the post game press conference. You don’t need these elements to enjoy the game but as they were unexpected perks for me they really added to the game day experience. 

Concessions 

Typical of what you will find at most NBA venues in terms of bars, food and merchandise stands. The food options include more than just hotdogs and burgers – I saw crab cakes and shrimp on offer. The prices are reasonable too. We got two hotdogs and fries for $22. 

Final tips

If you can pay a bit more for your seat to get to Players Club or one of the other, similar experiences then you should at least once. 

Don’t forget to check out Atlanta itself – there is plenty to see and do including Coca-Cola world, the civil rights museum and CNN. 

Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland Cavaliers

Getting there

The Quicken Loans Arena is located in downtown Cleveland. If you are staying in that area you can easily walk to the venue. Cleveland has a good bus system if you are not staying downtown. There is parking but there is construction on the ourside of the arena which is restricting access in the areas so public transport or walking will be easier.

The venue

The Quicken Loans Arena, also known as the Q, opened in 1994. As mentioned they are doing work to the outside of the building and I hope those plans extend to the inside. This feels like an older NBA venue but once inside the seating area you can forget that and just focus on the ‘humungotron’.

Seats

Despite the aging feel of the building I really like the seats at the Q. You don’t get a huge amount of space but then find me a NBA venue that does have wide seats. The seats have good padding and support. We were in the upper bowl and had a great view (and we had the humungotron). Looking around it seemed that all seats would have good sight lines. 

Concessions

I was a little surprised  by how few concesession there were, there were a few merch stands and you could buy the usual basketball fare but the selection was more limited than other venues in the NBA.

Atmosphere

We went on a Monday night in earlier Feb to a game that could arguably have been described as a ‘must lose’ game for both teams (assuming that they want a top draft pick) so the venue wasn’t full. I could hear pockets of fans making noise and the hype squads were doing their best but this was not the best venue for atmosphere.

Final tip

Don’t miss the ]opportunity to grab food/drinks on East 4th street.

 

Oracle Arena – Golden State Warriors

Getting there

The venue is in Oakland. If you don’t want to stay in Oakland you should base yourself in San Francisco and take the BART to the game. You get off at Coliseum, take the footbridge and walk around the coliseum. To be honest, you take the BART and follow the crowds. It’s about 45 mins from downtown to the venue (including the walk).

The venue

One of the older venues in the NBA it’s easy to see why the Warriors want to move to new premises. The building is functional but has seen better days.

Seats

Pretty comfortable for such an old venue and the sight lines seem to be good from all sections.

Concessions

This is where the age of the venue can be seen. Although there are fan shops and food stalls there are fewer of each that you would find in other venues meaning that the queues can be much longer than you would expect pre-game.

There is a good range of food and drink available including healthy options

We bought one water and one shock-top beer and paid $20.

Atmosphere

We were at the Spurs @ Warriors game which was sold out so there was a good atmosphere. I know there are plenty of fans who only discovered the Warriors when they started winning championships but there fans at the Oracle are loud and proud of the Warriors.

Final tip

If you are planning a trip to Oracle make it soon as the new venue is scheduled to open in time for the 2019/20 season.

The Golden 1 Center – Sacramento Kings

Location

The venue is conveniently located in downtown Sacramento so once you have arrived in Sacramento you should have no trouble making your way there.

You can fly or take the train to Sacramento. We drove in.

Accommodation

I recommend the Vagabond Inn. It’s only a five minute walk from the venue and has parking.

The venue

This is a new venue. When you walk in you can actually see the court as you go down in to the lower bowl from the main concourse. This seems to be the new style of basketball venues.

The seats

The seats are padded and comfortable. There seems to be good sight lines from anywhere in the venue.

Concessions

They have the usual range of fan stores and food concessions. They have some healthy food options as well.

Atmosphere

The venue was fairly quiet and clearly hadn’t sold out the night we were there. This is a shame as it is a really nice venue but the team are one of the worst in the NBA just now which shows in their attendance figures. Still worth a visit though.

Staples Center – Los Angeles Lakers

Location

The venue is located in downtown LA.

Getting to the venue

We drove and parked in lot 1, you need to have booked in advance to use this. Lot 1 is right next to Staples Center and getting in is straight forward however getting out again does take a while.

I would recommend not driving to the venue if you can. If you are staying in LA anyway either walk or use public transport depending on how far away your hotel is.

The venue

Getting in was easy, the queues moved quickly.

This is a typical NBA venue with concessions and restrooms on each concourse.

Concessions

The usual range of fan stores, drink and food stalls. The is the first NBA venue I’ve been to that has McDonalds inside.

They have a few bars and there is a range of drinks available including margaritas (just remember that alcohol is not sold after the start of q4).

The prices are typical for the NBA. We got two cokes, small popcorn and a hotdog for $24.

The seats

We were in the upper bowl and the seats were really comfortable, al the seats were padded. It would have been nice if there were a bit wider but I understand the need to fit a lot of seats in.

Atmosphere

The crowd were loud on and off during the game. The venue wasn’t full which always impacts on atmosphere.

American Airlines Center

Team – Dallas Mavericks

Getting to Dallas

We drove into Dallas. Dallas has an Amtrak station and Dallas Forth Worth Airport so it is easy to get to Dallas for a NBA game.

Dallas

In addition to an NBA team, Dallas has NFL and NHL teams and a range of other sports teams. Dallas also has a lot of history to offer if you are in town for more than just the game. We spent a few hours at the The Sixth Floor Museum but unfortunately didn’t have time to check out any of the other tourist attractions that Dallas offers.

Dallas offers the usual range of chain restaurants, several well known options are only a few minutes walk from the venue (House of Blues, Hooters and Hard Rock). There is a wide range of hotel options. The ones around the centre of Dallas are more expensive but the ones on the outskirts seem to be in less attractive areas and the reviews were definitely off putting so we opted for a hotel in the centre (The Crowne Plaza). Of course we were looking for a hotel with parking, if parking is not essential you may get a cheaper deal.

Getting to the venue

From the Crowne Plaza the venue is a short, safe walk. There are not a lot of sign posts but it’s a fairly straight forward route and as you get closer to the venue you can start to follow the home fans.

There are a few large car  parks near the venue if you would prefer to drive (though if you are staying at one of the central hotels I would suggest that you don;t save much time by trying to drive to the venue instead of walking.

The venue

This is a typical NBA venue, where all the seats appeared to have a good view of the court. The seats do run a little on the small side in the upper bowl. I felt more restricted that I have at any other NBA venue and I am within my BMI range.

Food in the venue

Typical range of hot dogs, beer, burgers and pizza. We got pizza hut, I am never convinced pizza is a great venue option but the quality was good and the price reasonable for a NBA venue.

Chesapeake Energy Arena

Team – Oklahoma City Thunder

Getting to Oklahoma City

We drove in to Oklahoma Ciry as part of a road trip. OKC is well served an Amtrak station and an airport so there are a range of options depending on your budget and where you are coming in from.

Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City is typical of American cities. If you want chain restaurants then you will find something to suit your needs.

On the night of the game we headed in to Bricktown. I would definitley recommend the Bricktown Brewery and Whiskey Chicks.

It’s the state capital so there are no shortage of hotels. We found that hotels with parking were fairly expensive though that might have been because we were there around Valentine’s day. We ended up booking an AirBnB which is a little north of the centre but we still found it easy to walk to the centre.

Getting to the venue

We were able to walk to the venue from our accommodation. The venue is very close to the centre  and the surrounding streets are definitely safe to walk. There are a number of car parks around the venue (charging a range of fees) if you decide to drive instead.

The venue

The venue is typical of a NBA venue. The  seats were comfortable with enough room so that I didn’t feel squashed. We were in section 310 and had a good view of the court. It didn’t seem that any seats had a bad view.

Food in the venue

We had eaten so didn’t need to find food in the venue. A range of options were available for those who did need to.

The venue has a wide range of concessions providing options including the usual popcorn, hod dogs and beer but also baked potatoes, fruit salad and veggie wraps. I was also impressed by the range of gluten free options.

Barclays Centre 

This is the home venue for the Brooklyn Nets and for this season only the Long Island Nets (Brooklyn’s d-league affiliate). 

I’ve been to the venue a few times already  – during All Star 2015 and more recently for a Knicks @ Nets game. On those occasions I had a good experience of the venue however when I attended yesterday for a Long Island Nets game they really let themselves down. 

They decided to open the doors only 30 minutes before tip. This is not really a problem except that fans had arrived for doors being an hour before tip, and box office staff confirmed this time. Making people wait in the cold for 30 minutes with no explanation is not good customer service. 

When they finally let us in there was only one open concession stand. In fairness this was probably enough given the small numbers in attendance but it was clear that the focus of the day was on setting up for that evening’s Brooklyn Nets game. 

The staff in the venue were all really friendly, I genuinely don’t think the bad experience was anything to do with them. The problem is that the Barclay Centre is too big a venue for a d-league game and it is clearly costing the owners too much to keep using it as one. This does seem like an issue that would have been obvious at the start though. 

Venue – this is an NBA venue and holds just over 18,000 people. It’s a well designed venue and I’m don’t think here would be a bad view regardless of where you were sitting and of course there is a jumbo tron as well. 

The layout does mean that the lower bowl experiences drafts though this is only really noticeable during games with low attendance. 

Accessibility- the venue has its own station so is accessible from most parts of  New York. As I am usually based in Manhatten I take the 2 or 3 and it’s about 30 minutes to the venue. Once you get off the train the exit to the venue is well signposted. 

You could drive but given the range of public transport options I think it would be easier to use public transport, especially for big games. Having left the venue to head to the subway after big games I can say that the station is well managed and it does not take long to get on a train. 

Merchandise- on Brooklyn game days there are multiple points on the concourse to purchase team merchandise. On Long Island days there is one which has limited stock. 

Concessions – Barclays Centre has put some thought into this. There is a large bar area as well as numerous stands selling beer, popcorn, hotdogs, pizza etc. All the usual stuff you would expect from an NBA venue. We got 2 hotdogs and 3 small soft drinks for $24 

Just remember that on Long Island days your options are more limited and I don’t think they sell alcohol. 

Entertainment- the NBA is known for the entertainment that happens around the game with cheerleaders, t-shirt giveaways and on court competitions adding to the fun. At the Brooklyn games you can definitely expect all of this so you won’t be bored if you stay in your sat during breaks in play.

For Long Island Nets games do not expect any of this. You might get the odd opportunity to watch two fans challenge each other to take free throws but that’s about it. Which is a shame as other d-league franchises put the effort in here and make sure the fans energy levels stay high. 

Ticket prices – Brooklyn tickets are typical of NBA tickets in a big market. Book in advance if you want to guarantee attendance and be prepared to pay upwards of $60 (and even then you will be in the back row). 

Long Island Nets play nose games behind closed doors but when they do open them a general admission ticket will cost you $15 and a courtside seat is $50. 

All in all go for a Brooklyn game but if you want to see Long Island Nets is skip the limited open games and wait until they get to their permanent home.  

Air Canada Centre

Venue – it is a good size venue, the internal layout is not very well signposted and it takes a very long time to leave the venue.

Accessible – Another very accessible North American venue, you can get there by train, subway or walking (either overground or using the PATH system).

Seats – pretty comfortable. The lower level seats were very good as would be expected in the lower level. They provide in seat service in the lower level which is a nice touch.

Merchandise – there is a large store just before you enter the venue and several smaller stalls within the venue.

Concessions – a good range of food is available pizza, poutine, hotdogs etc. The prices are similar to what you would find at other similar sized venues. Reassuringly they did not seem to put the prices up during All Star.

TD Garden

The best thing about Basketball venues in North America is that, for the most part, they are centrally located in cities.

The TD Garden is one of these easily accessible venues. You can chose to drive the venue, though I would not recommend that as the traffic before and after the game was insanely busy.

Boston has a good public transport network and there is a T stop just outside the venue.

The venue seems to be mainly fitted with plastic seats, except in the box areas and court-side. The seats are not the most comfortable.

The lower bowl has a large range of food and beverages available, the upper bowl has a smaller range. My personal highlight was the fact that Sam Adams is available in the venue.

The signposting in the venue needs some work, but I guess if you are a regular attendee you know where you are going. If you are intending to go, make sure you leave yourself time to find your seat before the start of the game.

The atmosphere at the TD Garden is great, the fans are loud and stay behind their team.