Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Stroh Center, Bowling Green OH

Basic Information
Team: Bowling Green State University Falcons (MAC)
Game: Falcons vs Eastern Michigan University Eagles-1/12/13
Team Website: www.bgsufalcons.com
Ticket Information: (877) BGSUTICKET
Tourism Information: (800) 866-0046 or www.visitbgohio.org
Online Broadcasts: www.bgsufalcons.com
Local Newspaper: Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune www.sent-trib.com

Team History: A long-time member of the Mid-American Conference, the Bowling Green State University Falcons have been playing men's basketball since 1915. They have won ten MAC titles since joinging the league in 1952, including four under legendary coach Harold Anderson. They have gone to the NCAA championship tournament on four occasions, with the most recent appearance being in 1968. The Falcons have played in the National Invitational Tournament ten times, most recently in 2009.

Seating Capacity: The Stroh Center seats 4,700 for basketball, and just over five thousand for concerts and other events.

How About That Name (And Some History): Opened in 2011 to replace the aging and archaic Anderson Arena, the Stroh Center was named after Kermit Stroh, a university trustee. Stroh and his late wife, Mary Lu, donated $8.7 million in 2008 to the building of a new arena, which would cost a total of $30 million to build. The school raised another $13 million towards construction, and the remainder was financed by a student fee which would help pay off the loans which finalized the construction cost. The arena opened on August 13, 2011 with a concert by Christian band Sanctus Real. The first sporting event was held on September 9, 2011 with a women's volleyball match between Bowling Green and Michigan State.

Other Tenants: The Stroh Center is home to BGSU's men's and women's basketball teams and women's volleyball teams in addition to concerts and other events.

Getting There: From I-75, exit onto OH-64/185-East Wooster St (Exit 181). Proceed west on East Wooster St, and proceed for approximately a half mile, and the arena will be on your right.

On The Town: Less than a half an hour south of downtown Toledo, Bowling Green is the seat of Wood County, and has a population of just over 32,000.
Bowling Green was settled in 1832 by fifteen families, and was incorporated in 1855. It was a sleepy famr town for most of that early period, but the discovery of oil in the area in the latter parts of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries brought more people to the area. After the oil boom, the automobile industry moved into the area, and companies like Coates Steam Car began building automobiles in Bowling Green. However, automobile manufacturing didn't last long in the area.

Bowling Green State University, originally known as Bowling Green State Normal School, opened it's doors on September 15, 1914.

Well known residents of the area include former Baltimore Oriole catcher Chris Hoiles, 1972 Olympic 800 meter gold medalist Dave Wottle (a BGSU alumni), and MTV Road Rules alumni/model Cara Zavaleta.

Nearby Airport: Toledo Express Airport is approximately 27 miles northwest of Bowling Green.

What To Do: I didn't stay in the area on this trip, so I would contact the local visitors bureau for more information.

Where To Eat Before The Game: There are a surprising amount of restaurants, both fast food and sit down, along East Wooster St on the approach to the Stroh Center. Some of the best of these are Frickers (a "family" sports bar), Buffalo Wild Wings, Tim Horton's, Bob's Big Boy, and Bob Evans.

Where To Stay: On this trip, I stayed at the Red Roof Inn in Maumee, which is just south of Toledo. The drive to the Stroh Center took a total of fifteen minutes, and with a room rate of under $50.00, it was a good choice. However, I believe that there are several chain hotels on East Wooster St, so I would contact your favorite brand to see if there are any in the immediate area.

Ticket Prices: BG men's basketball tickets are $14.00 (chairback reserved). If you purchase your ticket over the phone in advance (like I did), there is a $5.00 handling charge.

Parking: There is a large lot which surrounds the Stroh Center which costs $5.00 per car.

Getting In: The main entrance to the Stroh Center is located on the east side of the building. The main entrance also houses the ticket windows, a BGSU Sports Hall of Fame, and the Falcon Team Shop. Once you purchase your ticket and get it scanned in, there is a two story staircase which takes you to the concourse level.

The Good Seats: The Stroh Center is rectangular in shape, with chairback seating on three sides, and a student section with pull out bleachers behind the north basket. The majority of the chairbacks are of the plastic flip up type, and are all colored dark brown. The Anderson Club seats (section 103) are padded, but are only available to Falcon Club donors.

The view from the majority of the seats is pretty good, but the designers of the Stroh Center made one fatal flaw. There sections of seating behind each baseline which instead of being angled towards center court, are angled straight ahead. If you sit in those seats, you will be forced to twist your body to get the best possible view.

Arena Food: Sad to say, this was one area where the Stroh center was severely lacking.

There are three food sales points in the concourse, the Wooster St. Grill, the Bird Feeder, and the Falcon Grill. On my visit, only the Bird Feeder and the Falcon Grill were open. The selection at the Bird Feeder was incredibly small and not exciting. Your choices were hot dogs or Pizza Hut Pizza. At the Falcon Grill, the choices were slightly more interesting, with foot long chili dogs, cheese burgers, and chicken tenders.

Surprisingly, the hot dog was pretty good. Although it was pre-made, the wiener was hot, tasty, and of an above average size. The bun was fresh, but was oversteamed and not particularly sold. However, combined with a large Coke, $7.00 wasn't too much to pay for a light meal.

The food service left a little to be desired, as like the majority of the employees at the Stroh Center, they looked like they would rather be somewhere else.

Here is a sampling of concession prices at the Stroh Center:

Hot Dog: $3.00   Cheeseburger Combo (W/Fries): $7.00   Nachos: $4.00   Pretzel: $4.00   Large Soda: $4.00   French Fries: $3.00   Pizza Slice: $4.00

Soft Drinks: Coca-Cola is the soft drink of choice at the Stroh Center.

ATM: A PNC Bank ATM is located in the lobby near the main entrance.

Souvenirs: There is a nice sized team store located at the main entrance of the Stroh Center. It has a line of souvenirs that was larger than I anticipated. There is a also a small souvenir cart on the main concourse.

Restrooms: Like the rest of the Stroh Center, the restrooms were virtually immaculate and were of the appropriate size for a building of this size. They are liberally located on the concourse.
Mascots: Freddy and Freida Falcon spent much of the first half in the student section, but circulated in the stands during the second half.

Dance Team: The Falcons have an all-girl cheerleading team, a co-ed cheerleading team, and an all-girl university dance team. All of which made appearances throughout the game.

Program: The Falcons do have a very nice complimentary program, however they don't make it particularly easy to find. I had assumed that they would be available in the concourse. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. I asked the concession worker at the souvenir stand in the concourse where I could find one. He (rather snottily, if you ask me) pointed to the customer service counter. I walked over and there was nary one to be had. Eventually, after asking two more arena staffers, I found that the programs were available down on street level near the box office.

Scoreboard/Arena Voice: The Stroh Center has a top quality video board mounted just above the student section bleachers. This 30 foot X 10 foot screen features all of the pertinent game information as well as in-game action. There are two smaller score-only boards mounted in the corners of the stands on the opposite side and a "ribbon" board high above the seating level opposite of the main screen which gives more detailed game statistics. The arena also has good acoustics, and has a good public address announcer and music selection.

Arena Staff: As I had mentioned before, they were pretty lackluster, and seemed like they wanted to be anywhere else rather than at the game.

Atmosphere: Fairly good until the final minutes of the game when BG made a late charge, eventually winning on a three pointer with six seconds remaining. The pep band kept things hopping and the student section was fairly raucous despite being half full.

Overall Rating: Despite a few short comings, I would recommend a Bowling Green basketball game at the Stroh Center to anyone in the area. Prices are definitely reasonable, the building is clean and easy to get to. All in all, a pleasant, stress-free night out.