One of the highlights of being a sportscaster is traveling the country and seeing different arenas and stadiums. No two places are the same, and each location brings something unique and memorable to the table. My personal travels have taken me to sixteen states, cities and towns big and small, and hundreds of different arenas. This is the start of a two-part series, where I’ll share some of my favorite high school, small college, and pro stadiums where I’ve announced games from. This week, I’ll start things off with my favorite indoor stadiums:
- Allee Gymnasium, Morningside College- Sioux City, IA (pictured above): This is cheating a little bit because I actually played a few games on this floor, but as I moved on to broadcasting, I can’t help but enjoy this gym. It’s an old-style gym with about two feet between the student section stands and the court. This gym features my personal favorite kind of broadcast setup: a platform three or four rows behind the scorers table. It allows a close enough view that you can see everything with just enough elevation that your view doesn’t get blocked by coaches and officials. The crowds can be hit or miss, but for the biggest games, there is no better place to watch a small college basketball game.
- Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IA: This was the first big basketball arena I ever called a game in as a professional. As the host site for the Iowa State Basketball Tournament, it also represented the location of the first big games of my career. It’s a modern arena with great amenities, and our vantage point was in a great position down on the floor. Trips to “The Well”, as we called it, always meant a few nights in a hotel and the opportunity to explore downtown Des Moines.
- The Bubble, Valley City State University-Valley City, ND: This arena is located about a half an hour west of Fargo. I went there every year as the voice of Presentation College and always enjoyed the environment. The coolest feature was a wooden domed ceiling that gave the gym an old-school charm. The home teams there usually have good fan support, and it gets loud for big games. This is also the place where I made the single most memorable call of my career! A buzzer beater by a young man who would tragically pass away in a car accident the following summer.
- Keeter Center, College of the Ozarks-Point Lookout, MO: For years, this was the place where the NAIA National Tournament took place. I was part of the broadcast team twice when my alma mater Morningside College made the tournament, and the two things I remember were A) The hospitality room was incredible! 21 year old me gorged on a high-quality buffet line, and I specifically remember that they had unlimited bottles of Nesquick chocolate milk. B) This gym got loud! Especially when the host team C of O played, you couldn’t hear yourself think. I’ve never been to a louder small college gym, and frankly, I doubt I ever will.
- Aberdeen Civic Arena-Aberdeen, SD: This gym is the definition of old school because….it’s old! Not only has it been around forever, but it’s pretty clear that it’s never been updated or renovated. When I covered games there, it was for small high school region tournament games, and it was always packed to the gills! The broadcast location was uncomfortable, but I never cared because they were the biggest games of the year with an electric atmosphere.