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Official Review by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Though it has been 25 years since LMU’s last NCAA tournament appearance, the presence of the late Hank Gathers is certainly felt. Nicknamed “Hank’s House," with all the references made to the late Hank Gathers throughout the venue as well as among students and fans, a first time visitor here with a good sense of basketball history will feel a sense of Hank’s mystique and legacy.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The selections here are nothing out of the ordinary. For those of you who arrive before tip off, the Early Bird Special for $5 gives you a hot dog, regular size soda and fries, a really good deal.
Otherwise, you can get a Lion Dog Combo for $7, or for just a dollar more you can get the foot long Iggy Dog Combo for $8. Both combos come with a beverage and a bag of chips and both are reasonably priced bargains. For those of you who have preferences, Nathan's is the hot dog of choice around these parts.
Other items on the menu: candy ($4), fries ($3.50, $4 for garlic fries), nachos ($3, extra 50 cents for cheese), pretzels and popcorn ($2.75), churros ($2.25), chips ($2), Coke product fountain beverages and bottled water ($2.50), and tea/hot chocolate ($2). For those of you who just want a drink, vending machines are also available in the lobby and atrium dispensing bottled sodas.
Not in the mood for hot dogs? Personal-sized wood-fired pizzas are also available, cheese is $5 and pepperoni will run you $6.
The nice part about the concessions here is that they are located in their exterior atrium. In addition to easing pedestrian flow, this feature allows fans to stretch or walk around and mingle during halftime, in addition to enjoying the comforts of being outside and enjoying the weather. Benches are also provided in the atrium as well. This is something that CSUN should incorporate outside The Matadome over in Matador Plaza to enhance the fan experience.
For a school that has struggled recently, the fan support for the home five certainly isn't lacking. Because it was parents' weekend the day of this review, the atmosphere in the stands had that Sunday family outing feel. Nonetheless, it's always good to see a venue that's mostly filled to the rafters, even if it is somewhat if not entirely subdued.
With LMU doing battle against BYU, it would be the first time I would attend a college sporting event that would feature two schools with religious affiliations, a fact that was not lost among those students sitting in The Roar, the home team's student section. Given the fact these are college students, the commentary coming from some of these bright minds of the future could be quite colorful, especially with one school known locally for its Roman Catholic allegiance (LMU) and the other (BYU) universally known for its Mormon beliefs. Simply put, the language, mostly in good fun by the way, is not the type you would hear from these worshippers of faith during Sunday mass. Jay Drew, a BYU beat writer for the Salt Lake Tribune, informed me that language like that toward BYU is actually common when they're on the road. BYU would have a strong presence in the stands and as the outcome of the game would no doubt favor them as the game wore on, the BYU fans would certainly make their presence felt.
One of my favorite chants during the game from the locals goes, "L-M-U, you you you you..." Huge score there for originality. Iggy the Lion, LMU's mascot, can be seen interacting with the fans along with the LMU pep band. The band, more like a house band with a live singer, entertained the crowd throughout breaks, even singing the school's fight song among other selected hits, including Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle," an appropriate song to sing to departing fans after a loss.
The LMU campus is located a good 10-15 minutes north of LAX, so if you should be staying near LAX, you won't have far to go.
Not far from LMU is Venice Beach, with its eclectic mix of entertainers, as well as its outdoor gym, basketball courts (as seen in "White Men Can't Jump"), skate park and boardwalk. Santa Monica is also close by.
Are you a tourist with a sweet tooth? Randy's Donuts is about a good 5 minute drive east of campus located on Manchester Blvd as you approach the 405 freeway. You would have a hard time missing the all so familiar 23 foot donut. Think Randy Newman's, "I LOVE L.A."
Anytime a venue can fill up close to capacity really speaks volumes to the local fan base. Because it was parents' weekend, the feeling inside the stands had mostly a family outing atmosphere.
This would not stop the students sitting in The Roar from staying actively involved throughout the game. A loud and active student section is always a huge component when talking about fans and atmosphere at a college basketball game. Though some of the comments yelled at the visiting team were the type one would expect from Duke's Cameron Crazies, for the most part it was all in good fun.
Toward the end of the game, The Roar chants, "THIS IS HANKS HOUSE," another classy tribute to Hank Gathers.
There are two main entrances to the campus. One entrance is located just off of Lincoln Blvd while the other entrance goes through a residential neighborhood via Loyola Blvd. If arriving from LAX or points south, you will want to drive west on Manchester Blvd and take a right on Loyola. Not only will this street lead you directly inside campus, but this entrance will also lead you closer to the pavilion rather than driving around a long windy road from the Lincoln Blvd entrance. Upon arriving, several garages offer free parking for fans.
Along each baseline are two sections of seating. Above the main level of seating on each side are wooden bleachers. In the upper reaches of the bleachers one will not feel far from the action.
One of the nicest features of Gersten Pavilion is the ability to go outside the venue at any time during the game, especially halftime where fans have plenty of room to roam and mingle outside in the nice SoCal air without feeling so claustrophobic.
Single game tickets for most games are pretty reasonably priced, ranging from $13 for bleacher seats to $23 dollars for seats along the lower level, ranking the ticket prices among the other basketball venues here in Los Angeles as a good bargain.
One of the more unique experiences fans can take part in should they choose to arrive early for select home games is tailgating. Yes, that's right, tailgating. Mostly known as The All-American football tradition, early arrivers take part in the tailgating experience in nearby Hannon Field.
When entering Gersten Pavilion, one can't help but to feel the presence of Hank Gathers. 25 years after his untimely death, his presence lives on. One of the nice features among many here dedicated to Hank Gathers is a bench just outside the entrance that has some really nice paintings dedicated to his memory. It would be hard not to feel the presence of the onetime LMU phenom.
With LMU struggling, it was nice to see a close to capacity crowd in attendance even if a good portion was in support for the visiting school, BYU. Visiting fans attending sporting events here in Los Angeles is really nothing new with transplants who come from all over.
I really enjoyed the whole presentation of the game day experience, from the outdoor atrium to the various references to Hank Gathers, including his retired jersey along the wall. 25 years have gone by since Hank Gather's passing, but his legend still lives on not only inside the walls of Gersten Pavilion but throughout the campus as well.
It has also been 25 years since LMU's last appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The '89-'90 LMU squad would be the year America's sentimental Cinderella pick went all the way to The Great 8, falling to eventual National Champion UNLV. In many ways it is hard to believe LMU has not made at least a few trips to the dance considering their reputation as an offensive juggernaut during the late 80s. One would think that the magical run of the '89-'90 team would have been a huge reason to draw some top high school talent.
If LMU can ever find the magic of that '89-'90 team, Gersten Pavilion could be transformed to, dare I say it...Hanks's Madhouse, something I'm most certain Hank Gathers would be proud of.
Member Review by DrewCieszynski
Loyola Marymount (LMU) is one of Southern California's oldest universities and its roots can be traced back to 1906 when the school was known as St. Vincent.
The Lions play their home games at Gersten Pavilion, situated on a campus that is easily one of the most beautiful in the nation. The facility is nicknamed "Hank's House" after former player Hank Gathers. Built in 1981, it remains as beautiful as the surrounding area many years later. Basketball games allow for 4,156 fans, but that figure has been eclipsed on several occasions.
Possibly the most memorable squad from LMU made their mark on college basketball during the 1989-90 season. This team took LMU the furthest it has ever advanced in the NCAA tournament; all the way to the Elite Eight. This was particularly memorable as the team reached this level against the nation's top competition without Hank Gathers (44), one of the school's all-time greats, as he passed away during a game in the conference (WCC) tournament that season. This particular team never provided a dull moment for their fans, averaging 122.4 points per game.
Another memorable time at the Pavilion was during a 16 game winning streak that spanned three seasons from early 1987 through the end of 1988.
805 W Manchester Ave
Inglewood, CA 90301
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