Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Convocation Center, Athens OH

Basic Information
Team: Ohio University Bobcats (MAC)
Game: 11/16/13 vs Heidelberg College
Team Website:
Ticket Information: (800) 575-2287 or
Tourism Information: (800) 878-9767 or
Online Broadcasts: NA
Local Newspaper: The Athens News

Team History: The final charter member of the Mid American Conference still in the league, Ohio University has had a men's basketball program since 1907. The Bobcats have won 6 Mid-American Conference tournament titles in 1983, 1985, 1994, 2005, 2010, and 2012. As well as 9 MAC regular season titles in 1960, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1985, and 1994. In addition, Ohio has qualified for the NCAA men's basketball tournament thirteen times, most recently in 2012. The have played in the National Invitational Tournament four times, with their best finish being runner-up in 1941.

Seating Capacity: The Convocation Center is the largest arena in the Mid American Conference, with a seating capacity of 13,080.

How About That Name (And Some History): The Convocation Center was opened on December 3, 1968 when the Bobcats defeated Indiana University 80-70. The arena, which cost over eight million dollars to build, is directly across Richland Ave from Peden Stadium, the home of the Ohio Bobcat football team. Recent renovations of the building have included new offices for the men's' and women's basketball programs, expanded locker rooms, and a new playing surface and scoreboard.

Other Tenants: The Convo is the home of both the men's and women's basketball teams, women's
volleyball, and wrestling squads. The building has also been the host of many concerts, including Led Zeppelin in 1969.

Getting There: From US-50 West, take Exit 17, for OH-682 North. Turn right at the first traffic light, onto Richland Ave. Follow for less than a quarter mile. At the traffic circle, make a right. The Convocation Center will be on your immediate right. Turn right into the second parking lot.

On The Town: Located in south central Ohio on the banks of the Hocking River, Athens is approximately an hour south east of Columbus, 45 minutes south of Zanesville, and 45 minutes from Marietta. As of the 2010 census, Athens has a population of just over 23,000.
The area that is now known as Athens was the home of aboriginal tribes for over a thousand years, with the Adena and Hopewell, and later on, the Algonquin tribes residing in the fertile valley. The first white settlers came in 1797, but Athens did not become an incorporated village until 1811. The learning institution which would become Ohio University began in January 1802, when the governor of the Northwest Territory (part of which would become the state of Ohio in 1803) approved a bill from the territorial legislature establishing what was then called the American Western University. In 1804, the name was changed to reflect the new state, and Ohio University was born.

After the city passed five thousand residents in 1912, the state of Ohio granted Athens city status.

Well known Athens natives include long time Major League Soccer star goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, Austin Page, the founder of video game outfit Xbox, and artist Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

Major Airports: The largest airport near Athens is Port Columbus International, approximately sixty
miles from Athens.

What To Do Before The Game: This trip was an in-and-out for me, so there wasn't any real time for sightseeing in the area.

Where To Eat Before The Game: There wasn't anything immediately near the Convocation Center, but if you go south of Richland Ave, there are several fast food restaurants (McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy's) as well as a few smaller local pizza shops and other restaurants.

Where To Stay: I didn't stay in Athens on this trip, having decided to stay in Parkersburg, WV for the night. However, if you're planning on being in the area, I would check with the local visitors  bureau for lodging information.

Ticket Prices: Bobcat men's basketball has tickets in all price ranges. My seats were in the fifth row of the upper level at the top of the free throw arc. This seat, which cost $15.00 (with a one dollar service charge, gave a very good view of the action.

Getting In: The main entrance and ticket window is located on the east side of the arena.

Parking: There are several lots on the Convo grounds, as well as a large lot across the street at Peden Stadium. I chose to park at the football stadium, and for $5.00, was not too bad, and made for easy egress after the game.

Arena Food: While the Convo doesn't have a huge line of concessions, what they do serve is actually pretty good. I ordered two hot dogs and a diet Pepsi for my pre-game meal. The hot dogs were of a good size, and although they were pre-made, were fairly warm and pretty tasty. The whole meal cost a total of ten dollars, which, in my eyes, wasn't a bad deal.

Here is a sampling of the concession prices at the Convo:

Hot Dog:  $3.00   Nachos: $4.00   Pretzel: $3.00   Souvenir Soda: $4.00   Personal Pizza (Donatos): $4.00

ATM: There is a "no brand" ATM located in the lobby of the building near the ticket booth.

Souvenirs: The "Coach's Corner" is a small alcove near the main entrance which sells a (in my opinion) tiny line of team merchandise.

Restrooms: There are several restrooms located along the arena's concourse, but signage is non-existent. I just happened to stumble across a men's room, which was fairly clean and in good working order.

Mascot: Rufus the Bobcat prowled the stands during the game.

Dance Team: The Bobcats have both a dance team and a co-ed cheerleading squad.

Program: The Bobcat's basketball yearbook is a large-format color magazine which covers both the men's and women's squads. For a cost of $5.00, it is a pretty good deal.

Scoreboard/Arena Voice:  One of the more unusual features of the Convocation Center is the scoreboard system. Instead of the standard center-hanging scoreboard, the Convo has the score and video boards on the floor level behind each baseline. Each side has a scoreboard that has the basic game information and a small video screen opposite. The video screen, while seemingly capable of showing video replays, is used sparingly, only showing "rah-rah" messages and advertisements during the game.

The Convo's PA announcer is good, having a good voice and delivery style. The music is of the standard style and the building has good acoustics.

Stadium Staff: Didn't see a lot of them, mostly yellow jacketed arena ushers who basically stood around and smiled.

Atmosphere: I'm sure that if the game was a mid-season game against a better known opponent, there would have been a more lively atmosphere. However, a Saturday afternoon against a Division III school wasn't much of a draw, with only about three thousand in attendance. The people there were loyal fans who were into the game.

Overall Rating: The Convo for an Bobcats game is a pleasant way to spend time if you're in the area. With ticket and concession prices reasonable, the Convocation Center is something the people of Athens can be proud of.

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