When Melissa and I first went to a Newcastle Eagles game two years ago (thanks to Melissa winning a competition on Twitter) we both thoroughly enjoyed it and commented that it was very much a family friendly evening. That was when the Eagles were playing their home games at Northumbria University’s Sport Central.
On the 11th January the Newcastle Eagles played their first game at their very own venue, the Eagles Community Arena, against Plymouth Riders in front of a sold out crowd. We were there, and have been to two more games at the ECA since (against Manchester Giants on the 18th January and Bristol Flyers on the 1st March). The Eagles Community Arena is situated on Scotswood Road and is a very impressive building, with a massive metal Eagles logo adorning one corner of it so you cant miss it. There are around 300 parking spaces which have to be pre-booked for matches but a number of buses will get you there or thereabouts. There was no dress rehearsal before those first games at the ECA and so queues for ticket collection stretched well into the car park.
Since then the Eagles have advised people to print their tickets at home (or work) if possible and this has helped reduce the queues so that the last game we went to the queues weren’t there even though the crowd cheering the Eagles on was
The first thing I thought upon entering the ECA was that this feels like Sport Central. It is a community area with multiple courts and seating that folds away (although this has ‘EAGLES’ written across one stand in white seats where the rest of the arena has black seats) so the comparison is pretty accurate. The lighting come game time however blew that comparison out of the water.
I’ve been to one NBA game before: LA Lakers Vs someone at the Staples Center. Granted there is quite a difference in seating capacity with the ECA, but what they did at the Staples Center and what they do now at the ECA is drop the lights over the crowd so that only the court is lit up. A little detail that makes a big difference.
The family entertainment remains, from the Mexican hat challenge to the kit race (two children often racing the length of the court, having to put on an oversized eagles t-shirt and score a basket), the chuck a duck competition, the Eaglettes and the E Squad. Last Friday they also tried to incorporate a dance cam during the time outs although it suffered from some teething technical difficulties. The basketball is always good to watch, if a little frustrating at times: it wasn’t until the Flyers game that Melissa and I saw a win at the ECA and I still don’t fully understand the rules around contact and how the opposition seem get away with something the Eagles get pinged for at the opposite end of the court.
The atmoshpere at the ECA is great and a night at the basketball is, to quote YouTube reviewer Jeremy Jahns, a good time no alcohol required, although it is available at the concessions. Tickets start at £18 although if you sign up to the Newcastle Eagles newsletter they are almost always discounted to around £11 through there (Tickets can be bought here). You can read here about when the next game is.
If you would like to see more reviews of events or things to do as a couple I recommend checking out the Experience Reviews to see a selection of North East Experiences.