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Official Review by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Colorado Buffaloes men’s and women’s basketball teams play at Coors Event Center (CEC) located on the breathtaking campus of Colorado University in Boulder, CO. The CEC also hosts the Buffaloes volleyball team matches as well as seminars, concerts, trade shows, and the like. The majestic Boulder Flatirons, the mountains located west of campus, are the backdrop to the exterior of the facility.
In 2008, a maple surface court was installed which has energy-returned technology that reduces injuries and fatigue. The court is named the Sox Walseth Court; Walseth was the men’s basketball coach from 1957-76 and the women’s basketball coach from 1980-83.
Twenty NBA players have attended the University of Colorado; most notably are Chauncey Billups, Scott Wedman, and Jay Humphries.
Since 2012, the team has played in the Pac-12 conference and the students and fans are embracing that move. It is a fun event watching not only the team play but the antics of the student section (known as the C-Unit) and listening to the pep band cheer on their team.
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 an upstairs and a downstairs food area. The downstairs serves better food and beer; upstairs has a variety of traditional stadium fare and then some.
The downstairs area is known as the Chips Corral Club Room and it is located in the George Boedecker Jr Court. This appears to be a practice facility when the Buffaloes are not playing. During Buffaloes games, it serves almost gourmet food options. I was told the menu varies from game to game. The game I attended, it offered upscale hand carved sandwiches w/house made chips ($11), house made chips ($3), cup of soup ($5), and salad ($6.50). It all looked scrumptious. Bottled water, wine, craft canned beer, domestic beer (Coors) is offered ($4 - $8) but cannot be taken out of the downstairs catering room.
George Boedecker (one of the founders of Crocs) gets his name on the practice gymnasium as the Boedecker Foundation has made significant contributions towards the University of Colorado and its sports facilities and program. There's even a huge Croc (footwear) on display outside the gymnasium.
Upstairs on the concourse at the top of the seating bowl where the game is played, traditional stadium fare is available plus some other unique offerings. There is Jamba Juice, Colorado Kernals (gourmet popcorn - popped in front of you during the game - $6), Marley coffee, Turkey legs ($10), and Berry-ka-bob as well as your traditional hot dog, pizza, nachos, pretzel, etc. ranging from $4.25 - $7. Pepsi is the soda of choice at the Coors Event Center.
The CEC is a rectangular seating bowl with about 33 rows of seats. Fans enter from the top row and descend to their seats. There is no walkway between the rows and there are no banisters to hold on to when walking down the steps to the seating area. Seats on the sidelines are gold, fold down chairs with no cup holders. There are mostly metal bleachers with no backs behind the baskets.
There is no center hung scoreboard which is refreshing as you can see all the fans in the arena. There are relatively new scoreboards with videos on two of the upper corners. There is a unique sound system above center court where a scoreboard is traditionally suspended and it works quite well at CEC. The announcer is very understandable.
Choose section 9 to sit center court facing the logo; section 21 to sit center court facing the players' benches. All seats seem to have a perfect view of the court except maybe in the very top corners.
The concourse is plenty wide to hold the pedestrian traffic at a Colorado Buffaloes basketball game. Taking a stroll around it during halftime is easy and recommended.
The pep band lines the court and plays prior to the game, as well as throughout the game providing additional presence, encouragement and character to the student body at CU. There are cheerleaders and dancers to augment the entertainment.
Photos are allowed to be taken but flash photography is not permitted.
Boulder, CO often gets top rankings in health, well-being, quality of life, education, and art in the United States and it is a vacation destination on its own even without the Buffaloes basketball and their other athletic programs.
About a mile away from the Coors Event Center is the Pearl Street Mall which offers a variety of shopping, restaurants, bars, and people watching and is a perfect place to spend a few hours before or after a game. Along Pearl Street you'll find the Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery, The Kitchen (farm to table fresh meals), Bohemian Biergarten (German beer and sausage), West Flanders Brewing Company, and many, many more restaurants, pubs, and bars.
Also nearby is the Redstone Meadery (tours are available) as well as Celestial Seasonings (tea). Tours of their manufacturing facility are available and well worth the four or so mile drive from the CEC.
The CEC is also close to the many outdoor activities that the state of Colorado has to offer: skiing, biking, snowboarding, hiking, snowshoeing, etc. It's all close by. Take a hike on one of the many trails in the Open Space and Mountain Parks to get your steps in.
For hotels near the arena, the Best Western Plus Boulder Inn is walking distance (only .3 miles) from center. The Millennium Harvest House is a little over a ½ mile from the arena and it is closer to the Pearl Street Mall vicinity. There are plenty of other hotels available in the city of Boulder.
The student section for CU basketball is referred to as the C-Unit. They have choreographed chants and cheers and they turn their backs when the visiting team is announced and mockingly read newspapers as a display of disinterest. The students try to distract opposing free throw shooters by holding up large cardboard figures. Pretty cool. And, they have been recognized for their spirit on a national level.
Only the band plays; there is no piped in music during the game which makes attending a game here even more enjoyable.
I attended on Thanksgiving weekend so some of the students had gone home for the holidays. I am told the average attendance is 10,392 (94% capacity) and that attendance numbers have steadily increased in each year head coach Tad Boyles has held that responsibility (beginning 2010/11 season).
Getting to the venue is pretty easy as it's just off US 36/28th St. There is plenty of parking within a few blocks and it is free of charge for basketball games. Check the parking lot map here for parking options. I park at lot 436 as it is close to US 36, which is the highway to get back to the Denver area. It is only two blocks from the arena. Officials direct traffic after the game so the time it takes to leave is not too lengthy.
The concourse is on top of the seating bowl and one can look down and view the game/court when walking its ample width. Legroom in the seating area is good.
There are an adequate number of restrooms; they are clean and serve their purpose.
The doors to the Coors Events Center open one hour before the start of the game. Security check is fine; backpacks, fanny packs and bags larger than 8.5 inches by 11 inches are not permitted.
The closest airport is Denver International Airport (DIA) and takes about 45 - 60 min to get to the arena.
Ticket prices start at $10 - $30 depending on opponent and can go up to $65. You can also check third party sites such as Ticket Monster or StubHub for tickets. Food prices seem to be on par with other Pac-12 venues.
Having the Flatirons as part of the campus setting and being in the town of Boulder make this a destination to visit.
Not only the game itself, it's the student section that also makes this well worth visiting.
There are retired #'s on the rafters behind the one basket as well as other conference championship banners displayed on the upper perimeter of the seating bowl. Painted pictures and banners of basketball players (men and women) who call the University of Colorado their alma mater are displayed on the walls in the arena.
On the first level, there is a Colorado Buffaloes Athletic Hall of Fame which recognizes many outstanding individual and team accomplishments of all the CU athletic programs.
There is a souvenir shop on concourse offering pennants, shirts, caps, key chains, etc, but no hat pins.
Treat yourself to a day in and around Boulder, CO and see a Buffaloes basketball game. It's worth a visit to the area and to experience the game day event.
Member Review by richkurt on Dec 26, 2012
Boulder is a gem of a town, located in the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains, it's home to top-notch shopping, world-class dining and the University of Colorado. Certainly, the elevation of 5,440 feet plays a role in sporting contests and it's part of the reason why Buffaloes Basketball enjoys a home-court advantage at the Coors Event Center.
Originally constructed from 1977-79, the CEC opened in 1979 and has been home to CU Men's and Women's basketball and volleyball teams ever since. While basketball tradition doesn't run deep at Colorado, the team has really come on as of late, reinvigorating the fanbase and with the football team down in the dumps, some are arguing that CU is now a basketball school.
Head coach Tad Boyle has something special going in Boulder; he led the team to a record 18 home wins in 2010-11, his first season, and last year they made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003 by winning the Pac-12 tournament. This year, the Buffs are continuing to improve, starting the season out hot and gaining votes in the national polls as fans anticipate a second straight March Madness. The fans themselves are a bit mad, ready to go wild and root on their Buffaloes to victory every night at the CEC, making this a great place to take in a college basketball game.
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