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A.J. Palumbo Center

Pittsburgh, PA

Home of the Duquesne Dukes

2.9

3.1

A.J. Palumbo Center (map it)
600 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15282


Duquesne Dukes website

A.J. Palumbo Center website

Year Opened: 1988

Capacity: 4,406

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Put Up Your Dukes

As Duquesne enters their 100th season of basketball, the Dukes are seeking an NCAA bid for the first time since 1977. Perpetual futility has not always been the case for this program as during the mid-20th century, frequent NIT appearances and quality players made their way on The Bluff. Ever since, it has been a generation of both off-court and on-court struggles as just three times in the last 33 seasons has the team posted a winning conference record. The good news is that they have a nice on-campus home in the A.J. Palumbo Center right in downtown Pittsburgh. Completed in 1988, this 4,406-seat facility was enhanced nicely by a recent renovation and the inside gym is a comfortable and enjoyable place to check out a game.

2.9

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    2

Each of the three concession stands offer the same menu, which is mostly confined to snacks. Expect an assortment of things like popcorn, nachos, chips, etc., comprising a generally unsatisfying selection. At least most of these items are $3 or less. A little more filling is the pulled pork sandwich ($6) and hot dog ($5). They also have smiley cookies, a tradition from regional chain Eat'n Park. In a rarity for an on-campus arena, beer is sold and it is nice to see $5 cans of Iron City Beer to go along with the Bud products.

Atmosphere    3

The inside of the A.J. Palumbo Center is one of the better small arenas in the Atlantic 10 Conference, thanks to a nice renovation a few years ago. There are four sides of seating with the corners staying open and a walkway splits the blue "A" section from the upper red "B" level. On the south side, a hospitality area behind the lower blue seats means that sections B1 - B4 is higher up and with the steep angle, the sight lines are excellent. Though the set-up is similar on the other side, the pitch is much more gentle and seats on a flimsy retractable platform make this the poorer side to sit on. What is nice is the wide chair backs, which are quite comfortable. Bleacher seating can be found at both ends, one of which is occupied by the students and pep band.

Above center court is a scoreboard that fits in perfectly with the arena and the clear screens are utilized well throughout for graphics, live video and stats. Aiding in the ambiance are the white walls, good lighting and windows on the south side. There are a few drawbacks however, both of which can easily be fixed. The sound system is way too loud and it is especially annoying before the game as the piped-in warm-up music is overwhelming. Secondly, it is very warm inside and maybe the staff was overcompensating because it was 8 degrees outside on the day I attended, but by the second half, I was wishing I had shorts on.

The typical college atmosphere is on display at Duquesne with cheerleaders, a dance team, pep band and small student section. The members of the Red & Blue Crew do well to keep the energy going through the game, while the other students remain seated and casually watch throughout. The remainder of the atmosphere is not anything special.

Neighborhood    4

Being in Pittsburgh is a huge advantage as the city is an underated destination for tourists. There is plenty to do and my favorite thing is taking in the spectaular views of the stunning skyline, complete with bridges and the rivers. The hilly terrain makes that easy and the best spot is riding up the incline to take in the view from Mount Washington. Other areas worth checking out include the Heinz Museum, Point State Park, Carnegie Museum and the Strip District.

Duquesne's campus is on The Bluff in the Uptown section of the city. While this is right next to downtown and pretty close to most of Pittsburgh's attractions, this particular neighborhood is not exactly hopping. Aside from the school campus (which is nice), the closest strip is 5th Ave, a section with generally unattractive storefronts including some small buisness and blue collar bars. This is despite the fact the Consol Energy Center is across the street, so it is possible development takes place in the coming years. The area is not bad by any means, it's just a little more grittier than the side of Pittsburgh that attracts visitors. As for food, options within a near distance are limited. The best choice is likely Pizza Milano.

Fans    2

In a city with three professional sports teams and another school playing big-time collegiate athletics, unfortunately, Duquesne tends to get lost in the shuffle. Only a couple thousand typically come to games and that means a half-full gym. Decades of losing does not help to build a fan base and as the struggles have continued, so has the ability to fill their arena. Those at the game I attended showed some willingness to make noise, especially as the team did well. However, it was a disappointment to see most sitting and not getting too excited as the Dukes attempted a last-second shot for the win. Bigger games get moved a few blocks away to the Consol Energy Center, which is a shame as it becomes even rarer to see the intimate Palumbo Center utilized for a better atmosphere when it would be helpful.

Access    3

Pittsburgh is not the easiest city to drive around. For non-locals, challenges come from the combination of numerous bridges, tunnels, interchanges, confusing on/off ramps and multiple street intersections. Despite this, getting to and parking for a Duquesne game can be straight-forward if using the proper road. Among the numerous highways, it is best to use I-376 (known locally as Parkway East or West). Ignore other directions and use Exit 71A, which leads into Grant Street. A few blocks down, turn right on Forbes Ave and then parking is a cinch with a very large garage right across from the arena. Be aware that a GPS can struggle when leaving the arena as the system may think you are on an overhead highway, so it is a good idea to look at a map and be familiar with the area before venturing to the game.

As for traffic, it really depends on a few factors, primarily if it is rush hour or if the Penguins are playing. If neither, there often is not much of an issue. Pittsburgh does have a form of public transportation and the city's light rail has a stop about 15 minutes away from the arena (First Ave Station). The rail is free if travelling within the downtown corridor.

Inside the A.J. Palumbo Center, the corridors before entering the arena can be a little cramped. A particular issue is the food stand at the end, where there is very little space and it is a spot where traffic may be trying to get through. There is another corridor on the north side of the arena with more food stands and bathrooms. This is a little hidden with no signage, but it is down the stairs available in the back corner of the arena. As for the bathrooms, they are small and not overly crowded. It's only when people are washing their hands when lines form because paper towels are missing. With only two working hand-driers, it makes for an awkward wait with dripping hands.

Return on Investment    4

The only real pricing annoyance is the $10 parking charge and this can be avoided for those that want to be adventurous and try to seek out some free on-street parking. Otherwise, the snacks are cheap and tickets reasonable as the sections range from $10 to $25. The best option are the $15 seats in Sections B1-B4 as you can get a decent vantage point of the court and sit right at the center.

Extras    2

Down below in the corridor on the Forbes Ave side, a nice 10-panel display of Duquesne Basketball history is worth a look-through. I learned a few things checking it out and it is visually appealing as well.

At most catholic schools, there is usually affection showed to the hierachy and that was clearly evident at Duquesne, where both fans and students gave a very warm and extended cheer when Father Sean Hogan was introduced.

Final Thoughts

As Duquesne continues to try and build a winner on the basketball end of things, they have upgraded an arena to help set the foundation. While there are a few flaws in the experience, the inside of the Palumbo Center is a comfortable and enjoyable place to watch a game.

Follow all of Sean's journeys at Stadium and Arena Visits

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Crowd Reviews

Duquesne Dukes

Total Score: 3.00

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 2

Duquesne plays basketball in the A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh. The Palumbo Center is located just 2 blocks from the CONSOL Energy Center. It was built in 1988 and holds 4,406. The most recent renovation was just finished in 2010. The A.J. Palumbo Center has a unique design with some odd sightlines. The main overhead scoreboard does not have enough room for stats, so small scoreboards are located in each corner of the arena. The corner scoreboards then rotate between the score and various stats such as points and foul totals.

Electric Company

Total Score: 4.29

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

The 2011–2012 season has been one of many changes for the Tampa Bay Lightning, both on and off the ice. It's an overall mentality adjustment preached from the second-year owner, Jeff Vinik, after he purchased the team from the warring duo of Oren Koules (most famous as the producer of the "Saw" franchise) and Len Barrie, both of whom disagreed on just about everything having to do with the team, including whether or not to trade longtime team superstar Vinny Lecavalier to the Montreal Canadiens. Their in-fighting spread into the locker room and onto the ice, so when Vinik seized control of the team, he was determined to clean up all the venom left behind.

The first season of Vinik's tenure, 2010–2011, included a surprise run deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, barely losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Eager to capitalize on this newfound sense of camaraderie and euphoria, 2011–2012 was determined to be the season of no return.

First and foremost, their logo and colors have changed from the old black, dark blue, and white of the last 19 seasons (though the logo went through some retooling throughout that timeframe) to bright blue and white with a cleaner-looking, wordless logo. Then, the Forum was scheduled for an overdue facelift, with the main additions discussed later in this review. And lastly, to coincide with the renaming of its naming rights holder, the St. Pete Times Forum (née Ice Palace) was no more, now replaced by the Tampa Bay Times Forum on January 1, 2012.

The King is dead. Long live the King!

Electric Company

Total Score: 4.29

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

The 2011–2012 season has been one of many changes for the Tampa Bay Lightning, both on and off the ice. It's an overall mentality adjustment preached from the second-year owner, Jeff Vinik, after he purchased the team from the warring duo of Oren Koules (most famous as the producer of the "Saw" franchise) and Len Barrie, both of whom disagreed on just about everything having to do with the team, including whether or not to trade longtime team superstar Vinny Lecavalier to the Montreal Canadiens. Their in-fighting spread into the locker room and onto the ice, so when Vinik seized control of the team, he was determined to clean up all the venom left behind.

The first season of Vinik's tenure, 2010–2011, included a surprise run deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, barely losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Eager to capitalize on this newfound sense of camaraderie and euphoria, 2011–2012 was determined to be the season of no return.

First and foremost, their logo and colors have changed from the old black, dark blue, and white of the last 19 seasons (though the logo went through some retooling throughout that timeframe) to bright blue and white with a cleaner-looking, wordless logo. Then, the Forum was scheduled for an overdue facelift, with the main additions discussed later in this review. And lastly, to coincide with the renaming of its naming rights holder, the St. Pete Times Forum (née Ice Palace) was no more, now replaced by the Tampa Bay Times Forum on January 1, 2012.

The King is dead. Long live the King!

In a Galaxy Not Far, Far Away...

Total Score: 3.57

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

A Not so long time ago, in a galaxy not far, far away, the year was 1996. Los Angeles, one of the most storied sports towns in the United States, was granted one of the ten charter franchises of Major League Soccer.

While the first fans may remember the Galaxy playing at the Rose Bowl, the team moved to a more modern $150 million facility in 2003. The capacity dropped from over 100,000 to a much more intimate 27,000. The fans responded positively, and the Home Depot Center has been filled ever since.

The stadium is located on the California State University, Dominguez Hills campus in Carson, CA. It is approximately 10 miles south of downtown Los Angeles and easily accessible from the 405 or 91 freeways. If Carson doesn’t ring a bell, you may recognize it as the setting for movies such as “The Cable Guy,” and “Gone in 60 Seconds.” While the name leads one to believe otherwise, the television show “Reno 911” is also filmed here and Carson was even the location of the “Hey Mickey” music video long before the MLS was ever created.

It is said that the Galaxy derived it nickname from Los Angeles, being the home of the stars. Clearly, this was a much better choice than being home to the traffic or smog.

A.J. Palumbo Center-Home of the Duquesne Dukes

Total Score: 3.00

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 2

Duquesne plays basketball in the A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh. The Palumbo Center is located just 2 blocks from the CONSOL Energy Center. It was built in 1988 and holds 4,046. The most recent renovation was just finished in 2010. The A.J. Palumbo Center has a unique design with some odd sightlines. The main overhead scoreboard does not have enough room for stats, so small scoreboards are located in each corner of the arena. The corner scoreboards then rotate between the score and various stats such as points and foul totals.

Palumbo Center

Total Score: 2.71

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 2
  • Extras: 1

Has the feeling of a high school gymnasium more than a college arena.

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Local Food & Drink

Milano’s Pizza  (map it!)

3615 Fifth Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15213

(412) 681-2858

http://pizzamilano.net/

Red Ring Restaurant  (map it!)

1015 Forbes Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

(412) 396-3550

http://redringrestaurant.com/

Primanti Brothers  (map it!)

46 18th Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15222

(412) 261-1599

http://www.primantibros.com

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Lodging

Cambria Suites  (map it!)

1320 Centre Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

(412) 381-6687

http://www.cambriasuitespittsburgh.com/

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