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This Must Be The Place: The Kohl Center

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Gonna rock it ‘till I shock it, gonna kick it ‘till I drop it Woo! Love at first sight.

Nebraska v Wisconsin Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Wisconsin Badgers home games draw over half a million in attendance each year. But, are those places any good? Let me tell you what to think about the places Badger fans call “home.” Today, we find out that civil servants are just like my loved ones. They worked so hard to get an on-campus facility for Wisconsin hockey.

My Building Has Every Convenience

Location Kohl Center
Location Kohl Center
Date Opened 1998
Address 601 West Dayton
Sports Basketball, Men's Hockey
Named For Senator Herb Kohl
Capacity 17287 for hoops, 15359 for hockey
Best Bar Nearby City Bar

Getting In

Finally, a place where day-of tickets are sometimes only available from the guys asking who’s buyin or sellin’ on the street outside. Winning five Big 10 regular season titles, three Big 10 tournament titles and making a Sweet Sixteen 10 times in the last two decades means trips to the Kohl Center for men’s basketball involves planning ahead.

For example, do you want to see a game on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon? No? Oh, then you’re probably fine. I live a mile away, and for the 6 PM tips I have to adjust my work schedule if I want to eat before entering the gates. Later games means driving on Wisconsin roads in winter late at night.

Men’s hockey...once upon a time it was the hottest ticket in Madison. Then Badger Bob Johnson left, the Kohl Center opened, and fans are still reeling from a 4-26-5 season. I was complaining, I was down in the dumps. I feel so strong because Mark Johnson’s been pulling up the program for a few seasons now.

Women’s basketball seats are mainly sold to suite owners. Remember, attendance numbers are initially reported as tickets sold! Facts are simple and facts are straight, facts are lazy and facts are late. Facts all come with points of view.

Concessions

Hey, we have options at this place! Some good ones too! On a 1 to 10 scale, where 10 is the $30 offerings at MLB parks that feed five people and come with a hashtag, the Kohl Center generally keeps it at a 7 and lower. Apple Pie nachos are the only really outlandish option, but for my money it’s the fresh mini doughnuts that are the go-to. I met friends at the City Bar before a women’s hockey “Fill the Bowl”, and after that sort of pre-game I think a total of 10 orders were placed between the 15 of us.

Seating

The Kohl Center has three seating decks, with basketball’s additional capacity coming from dropping the seating down another 10-13 rows in the lower bowl. I’ve sat in a lot of different sections, and the only places I tell people to avoid are the 3rd deck’s corners, where the angle and distance can make following the action too difficult. I once picked up a partial season ticket package in the very last row of the highest section at center court, and I could see Ben Brust’s buzzer beater against Michigan perfectly.

Traditions

  • The Crease Creatures are the coolest students on campus.
  • A gradual increase of ads during intermission over letting the band play.
  • The addition of an in-game DJ for hoops.
  • SIEVE.
  • Multiple pregame hype videos.
  • The Grateful Red showing up for Hawaiian shirt night and really not many other times.
  • Phil Dzick wanting more.
  • The hardest working band in America showing off during the second intermission.
  • Nostalgia never getting called for interference.
  • Heading to the concourse at the under-four timeout.

Atmosphere

Predictably schizophrenic. Both men’s basketball and men’s hockey have seen tickets slow down in response to “the worst season in recent history.” Men’s basketball has rebounded (pun!) nicely after the 2017-2018 injury put the Badgers at their first sub-.500 record since Dick Bennett’s third year. Men’s hockey is still trying to find a way out of the smoking crater Mike Eaves’ left after being let go notching only 12 wins in his final two years behind the Badger bench.

And I’m not going to lie: the events around Thanksgiving and winter break lead to a lot of sold, but not scanned tickets. I’m so happy I didn’t give anyone my ticket to the NYE game against Rider as soon as I looked at a 24-12 halftime score when my plane landed, because that would have ruined a friendship.

But then other times, you catch lightning in a bottle. Men’s hockey plays an away game the weekend undefeated No. 1 Ohio State comes to town, so you get the perfect 1 PM tipoff for maximizing the crowd to see Jordan Taylor storm back from 15 down to lead a court-storming. Robbie Earl finishing a hat trick in overtime to rally from three down against No. 1 North Dakota. That injury-riddled ‘18 team pulling it together to make sure Frank Kaminsky’s jersey was retired with a W on the schedule too. The old people stand up, everything comes together, and there’s nothing else like it.

Overall

Well, I have a good time when I go out of my mind. And it’s a wonderful place, and I can’t wait to be there. And I hear beautiful sounds coming out of the ground. Gonna take us a while, but we’ll go hundreds of times.

Final Review

First off, a hell of a bold intro. Secondly, some absolutely iconic fits. Most importantly, there’s constant action and movement to keep you entertained. A landmark entry in the canon.