Opened in 2000, the Cintas Center meant Musketeer basketball would return to the urban campus in Cincinnati’s Evanston neighborhood for the first time since 1983. It has been named by EA Sports as one of the toughest college basketball arenas for opponents. Not only do visiting teams have to contend with consistently hostile crowds, but they’re often facing incredibly talented Musketeer teams on their home turf.
Since 1961, the team representing this small Jesuit university has made 23 NCAA tournament appearances (including 11 since playing at Cintas Center), 6 Sweet Sixteens, and 2 Elite Eights. It’s a conundrum as Xavier basketball is an unlikely, and often unnoticed powerhouse in college basketball.
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".
One should note that beer has a big connection to Cincinnati's history. In breaking with most schools that may only allow alcohol in premium areas, both major colleges in Cincinnati sell alcohol to all fans 21 and over. Xavier actually offers a nice mix of decently priced domestic beers plus some lesser popular labels like Honey Brown and Stella Artois. Additionally, there's a separate stand for Leinenkugels, the Wisconsin-based regional brewery.
As for food, there's the basic hot dog, popcorn, nachos, etc. plus some more interesting choices like funnel cake fries. C'mon, who doesn't enjoy deep fried dough?
Given the tight confines of the area, the Cintas Center serves many purposes other than just athletics as it also hosts a student dining facility and university conference/banquets halls.
Cintas Center is the central home of XU athletics, the "spiritual" home, if you will. While the soccer and baseball teams play across campus (baseball at Hayden Field), all of the school's athletic accomplishments are noted here in the concourses. All of the training facilities are also in the complex. The Xavier Sports Hall of Fame is in the west concourse and is worth a stroll. It features displays from the men's and women's basketball players who've gone on to the pros to display cases featuring artifacts and pictures from every sport to the giant pictures commemorating the school's football program (which was discontinued in 1973).
As for the arena itself, multi-purpose arenas can often be stale and quiet, as basketball isn't the main focus. In the case of the Cintas Center, the school did a fantastic job with balancing the utility of the place, while also maintaining a basketball atmosphere. Even the upper deck seats feel really close to the playing floor and the sightlines are good from nearly every angle.
The Xavier student section always delivers capacity crowds clad in dark blue for their sections along the north baseline and provides some entertaining jeers and mocking of the Musketeers' opponents. The low roof and seating configuration add up well to creating a noisy and hostile atmosphere for opposing teams.
The rivalry games to see here, before the coming conference affiliation shift changes things, are Dayton, Butler, and Cincinnati. The Dayton game is called the Jimmy Carter Classic because, despite the tense rivalry, Dayton hasn't won at Xavier since Carter was president. Even though the teams will be in different conferences beginning with the 2013-2014 season as Xavier moves on and Dayton stays in the Atlantic 10, for now.
Butler is a short drive away in Indianapolis and the Bulldog's tourney runs have made them an intense foe in recent years. Additionally, Butler will be joining Xavier in the new basketball-centric Big East for the 2013-14 season.
Cincinnati and Xavier's rivalry game is The Crosstown Shootout. For as long as I can remember, they've always alternated between each team's home venue (Cincinnati's being their on-campus Fifth Third Arena). After the game two seasons ago got a bit heated, the schools decided to play the game at the neutral site U.S. Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati. While the game was apparently a financial success, the atmosphere pales in comparison to when these local foes square off in each other's arenas. I hope they'll decide to move the game back to the campus sites after this experiment has run its course.
There should be an asterisk on this one. Currently there isn't much in the way of pre/post-game activities. Luckily, two places I strongly recommend for food are nearby. Betta's Italian Oven (3764 Montgomery Road) is a 5 minute walk from Cintas Center and serves wood-fired pizzas that numerous local publications have named 'Best In The City'. A little up the road is a personal favorite for burgers in town, Gordo's Pub (4328 Montgomery Road). Gordo's also has a great beer list for the more adventurous beer drinker.
I say the Neighborhood section should have an asterisk because the school is finally moving on filling in the large swath of empty land directly southwest of Cintas Center. The 18-acre project's first phase is supposed to bring retail and restaurant space. There are hopes of a hotel being built on the grounds. When all is said and done, the entire complex will bring much needed life to this portion of the campus area and will provide students, Musketeer sports fans, and neighborhood residents with additional places to eat and shop. Work is expected to start in the summer of 2013.
Given the school's small stature, and small alumni base, the team can sometimes be overshadowed by Cincinnati, and even the University of Kentucky in local media coverage. Nonetheless, X fans are loyal and pack Cintas Center regularly. The student section is fantastic and really sets the tone for a game.
Getting to the campus is somewhat simple. Xavier sits 5 minutes east of the Dana Ave. exit of I-71. It can also be reached by the Montgomery Road exit of Rt. 562 (a.k.a. the Norwood Lateral), with a short drive south on Montgomery. The Montgomery route seems to be a bit easier to get to the (free) parking lots in the old Norwood Shopping Plaza. The Dana Ave. route seems to bottleneck right after you get off the highway so be sure to account for some extra time if you're coming from 71. Be sure to double-check this map the school provides to verify the location of the free lots.
So about those rivalry games. if you can manage to get a ticket, it'll cost you. Consider this, the school has designated the entire lower bowl (minus the student sections) and about a third of the upper bowl as "premium" seating. Those big ticket rivalry games can run you about $40 a ticket. The lesser known conference opponents and the scrubs that often start off the schedule are your best bets for value. The upside to the conference shift is those non-rivalry games will include many of the "Catholic 7" portion of the old Big East, which WAS one of the nation's strongest basketball conferences.
While the prices are a bit high, do keep in mind, this place has been a fortress for Xavier. They've won over 80% of the games played here.
Given the strong demand for tickets, secondary sites will likely be of little help with a discount, since costs will most likely be much more than face value.
As for the food costs, they're pretty reasonable. Hot dogs, local Larosa's pizza, popcorn, pretzels, and regular pops are all $4. Beer and wine start at $6.50. Oh, and those funnel cake fries I mentioned are $5.
An extra point for the school managing the space well. Sometimes when an arena has to serve many purposes, it often does few of them well. I can't speak for the conference side of things, but this is a great basketball arena.
An extra point for the video and LED boards. They add a professional feel to the place.
Another one for the rise of a mid-major school. Everyone loves an underdog and Xavier could certainly be considered that when you look at athletic budgets, tv contracts, etc. But they've made great strides to be competitive on the national stage.
If you're in the area and you want to see college basketball, as much as it pains this lifelong Cincinnati Bearcat to say it, you should try to catch a game at the Cintas Center. The crowd is great and the competition level is high. It's a great trip for any college basketball fan. Once the school gets the nearby development going, it should only add to the overall experience.
The Cintas center is a 10,250 seat multipurpose arena located just west of I-71 in the heart of the Xavier University campus. This $46 million arena, primarily serves as the home to the Xavier men's and women's basketball teams, as well as the school's volleyball team. In addition to athletics, the complex has seen its fair share of big concerts, speakers, conventions and other corporate events, trade shows, commencements, and even weddings.
The facility can be easily transformed to accommodate any size event. This state-of-the-art venue opened its doors in 2000 and features some of the most innovative and ahead of its time amenities. In addition to the arena itself, the center provides a full size practice gym, training room, and strength and conditioning room available not only for varsity athletes, but students as well. The center is also home to the majority of the athletic offices and a fully functional conference center. Read on to find out what makes this much more than a nice gathering complex.
I am biased (this is my alma mater), but to see from where this program has grown (Schmidt Fieldhouse) to this on campus facility speaks volumes to the vision of Xavier's leadership, and in particular, Fr. Hoff and Skip Prosser.
Very nice arena, and i would recommend any fan of college basketball to visit... great atmostphere
3764 Montgomery Rd
Norwood, OH 45212
7720 Montgomery Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45236
3800 Victory Pkwy
Cincinnati, OH 45207
4108 Montgomery Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45212
There are no local entertainment entries. Help us build with your expertise!
3024 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45209
130 W Mitchell Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45217