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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
In 1981, the Youngstown State Penguins began competition at the Division I level as an independent. Today they are a member of the basketball-rich Horizon League. Their home is the Beeghly Center, built in 1972. It is a modest arena, with few exciting amenities for fans, but may serve as a good place to see some college basketball.
The court itself is named for legendary YSU baseball and basketball coach, Dominic Rosselli. Dom Rosselli stands as a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated 43 years to coaching at the university. He stands as the all-time leader in coaching wins for the program for both sports.
Athletically, Youngstown State is much more known as a football school than a basketball school. The women's team has shown more success than the men's, making an appearance in the NCAA Tournament's second round in 1998. Thirty years into their history as a D-I school, the men have yet to make an appearance in the Big Dance.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There is one lone concession stand in the main lobby when entering. You will find less than what is offered in most college basketball arenas. The one somewhat unique item is the pepperoni roll ($3.25), which was decent. Otherwise, your choices are limited to hot dog ($2.75), pretzel ($2.25), nachos ($2.50/$3.50), popcorn ($2), or peanuts ($2).
Beverages are provided by Coca-Cola, with a 20-ounce bottle costing $2.75. Hot beverages, including cocoa and coffee come in two sizes ($1.75/$2.50).
The bottom line is you won't starve here, but you are better off getting a meal before or after a game.
The arena feels small, but is a good size for this level of basketball. At each end behind/above the basket, there are permanent wooden bleachers, installed during a renovation in 1983. Along each sideline, there are ten rows red plastic seats with chairbacks, but no cupholder. These seats are dubbed the "Penguin Club." Above that, there is an upper section of expandable wood bleachers, which rise up 33 rows. If you choose these seats, be sure to go with row V or lower so your view of the scoreboard is not obstructed. During my visit only one side of these upper bleachers were open, adding to the venue's intimacy.
The cheerleaders do an above average job of encouraging the fans. The small pep band is powerful and energetic, and much better than what you would expect for this level of basketball. Unfortunately, these two groups don't choreograph their activities between each other so the band often plays over the routine of the cheer squad.
There are male and female Penguin mascots, although they may as well be icebergs for as much as they move and interact with the crowd. Their names are Pete and Penny, and they're cute and everything, but serve no purpose if they just stand in the corner.
Youngstown State turns out the lights and adds spotlights to the introduction of the home team, an act that feels rather overdone for this sized venue.
Youngstown, Ohio is in eastern Ohio, just miles from the Pennsylvania border, just off I-80. Known as the Steel Valley, the area has seen its fair share of hard times. Close to the arena you will find a Taco Bell and McDonald's. If you want to change things up a bit, make your way to the corner of Elm Street and Lincoln Avenue, and stop in to Inner Circle Pizza for tasty pizzas, wings, and burgers. It feels more like a bar than a restaurant, but given the options, this is the best place within walking distance.
The real disappointment here is that there is no clear student section anywhere in the arena. If it wasn't for a much better than average pep band, and decent cheerleading squad, this place would be rather dead. I hope that I was there on a night that is an exception, because I found the crowd to be quite dull.
The Youngstown State campus is just a short drive from I-80, and is about halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, about an hour drive in either direction. Shoot for the parking garage at the corner of 5th and Lincoln Avenue, where you can find parking for just $5. I did notice a couple of officers ticketing cars parked on the road, so be sure to check the signs before parking your car if you choose to go elsewhere besides the lot.
When in doubt, look for Stambaugh Stadium ("The Ice Castle"), which is easily seen from many vantage points around the city.
Once inside the arena, you should have no trouble getting around, although the restrooms can get a bit cramped during peak times. If you want to avoid a crowd, then sneak out a couple of minutes early at halftime or the end of the game.
It is worth your while to purchase tickets in advance, both to secure a seat, as well as to save $2 per seat. On game day, tickets are $14 for reserved seats, and $10 for general admission. In this case, my recommendation is to go for the reserved seat, so you can have the comfort of a seatback, for just $4 more. Sections 12-17 would give you a view of the benches, and that menacing Penguin logo at center court. Section 15, row 5 would be ideal.
When you add in parking, drink, and something to eat, you end up with a very affordable price of $25. That said, unless you are a big time fan of the Penguins, that night's opponent or college basketball in general, then this experience just barely makes it in at the right price.
One extra point awarded for the promotions staff, which offered several events for kids, all of them slightly unique, and most of them putting a smile of the faces of the spectators. I'll also offer one additional point for the better than average band, which helped to fill the void left by the absence of a student section.
I am especially fond of Horizon League basketball, and have attended games at 7 of the 10 arenas in the league. I am also a bit of a sucker for basketball, so my ratings may be a bit on the high side. That caveat out of the way, if you love college basketball, and are in the area, then this is worth the stop.
Member Review by ianmccor on Apr 19, 2014
The Horizon League's only real football school, and the atmosphere suffers greatly for basketball as a result.
318 Elm St
Youngstown, OH 44503
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