Hallowed Grounds: UTPA Fieldhouse

UTPA

The state of Texas is full of great sporting programs and state-of-the-art facilities. Competing with the likes of Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, TCU, and others for attention is something that smaller schools do not stand a chance in doing.

Being a significant distance from any large school is also a factor, and that is the situation that Texas-Pan American finds themselves in.

Located in Edinburg, TX, which is just over half an hour from the Mexico – USA border, UTPA has a tough time attracting crowds to their basketball and volleyball games. With that in mind, they have a hidden gem of sorts in their basketball facility.

The UTPA Fieldhouse is one of the oldest basketball arenas in the state of Texas, and is one that is worth checking out if you ever find yourself in the Rio Grande Valley area.

UTPA Fieldhouse 2

The glory days for the UTPA basketball program was undoubtedly back in 1963, when the team won the NAIA Championship in their first ever appearance in the title game. They beat Western Carolina in the final, 73 – 62, to secure the program’s first title.

The UTPA Fieldhouse was then built a few years later, in 1969, and the facility has seen it’s history and tradition upheld as the years have gone by.

The facility has a capacity of 2,420, which isn’t big by any means. However, it does provide the spectators with an intimate setting for watching a Division I sporting event. The UTPA Fieldhouse plays host to both the men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams. It also serves as the Health and Kinesiology facility for the students of UTPA.

UTPA Fieldhouse

In 2010-2011, the UTPA Fieldhouse received a face lift, of sorts. While still maintaining the tradition and history of the facility, the school made some improvements. They added a new court, a new video scoreboard that allows for video replays, and new court-side and chair back seating. The new seats provide for a more comfortable setting to watch a sporting event in.

The new court design, which can be seen above, is one of the better looking court designs in the NCAA. The orange logo in the center is a wonderful focal point on the court, and the green keys and end lines really compliment the orange nicely. It adds to the overall experience at the UTPA Fieldhouse.

The new video board almost stretches across the entire wall, and provides spectators with in-game visuals such as video replays. For the size of the court and facility, the video scoreboard is top of the line in terms of size and quality.

Seating for the UTPA Fieldhouse is only down the sides. There are no seats behind the end lines, meaning all of the seats are between the baskets. This means that there is essentially no bad seat in the house. The student section, nicknamed “Bronc Zoo”, sits directly behind the home team’s bench.

There is also a “Welcome to the Valley” banner that hangs on the wall above the eastside bleachers, which is a nice touch to the facility.

Fan support at home UTPA basketball games is low, depending on the opponent. The Broncs are a part of the Western Athletic Conference, but none of the conference opponents are anywhere close to Edinburg. Below are the distances that the Broncs would have to travel to face the other teams in the conference:

Distances to WAC opponents, in miles, from UTPA Fieldhouse
Utah Valley:
 1,495 miles
New Mexico State: 824 miles
Grand Canyon: 1,217 miles
Chicago State: 1,408 miles
Idaho: 2,171 miles
UMKC: 1,012 miles
Seattle: 2,372 miles
Cal State Bakersfield: 1,694 miles
*NOTE: all of these distances are for driving, and retrieved from Google Maps*

The Broncs have tried to obtain admission into the Southland Conference, as it makes more sense geographically for the Broncs, but to no avail. If the team was able to play teams closer to them, or play higher caliber opponents, it would draw more fans to the UTPA Fieldhouse.

A general admission ticket for a Broncs game will set you back around $8, while a reserved seating ticket will cost you $10. The school offers free parking on game nights, and the prices at the concession stand are relatively cheap. Their signature item at the concession stand is Hot Cheetoz with cheese. They take spicy Cheetoz sticks and drizzle nacho cheese over top. From what I hear, it’s quite the hit at UTPA games. A family can attend a Broncs game, get great seats and some great food, and not break the bank.

The newly designed court makes the UTPA Fieldhouse one of the better courts in the NCAA, and the history of the facility only adds to the pedigree. If you’re ever in the area of Rio Grande Valley and Edinburg, TX, be sure to go check out a UTPA Broncs game for cheap (financially), yet exciting sports entertainment, and see one of the hidden gems in terms of basketball facilities in the mighty state of Texas.

– T.B.