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Official Review by George Dinsmore, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
DeGol Arena in the Maurice Stokes Athletics Center has been the home of the St. Francis (PA) University Red Flash basketball program since its construction in 1971. The university calls the arena the Stokes Center. The building is named after Maurice Stokes who played at St Francis from 1951-1955 and led the team to NIT appearances in 1954 and 1955. Stokes was drafted by the NBA Rochester Royals where he became the NBA rookie of the year and a three-time All Star. His career was cut short by health problems and he passed away in 1970.
The Red Flash play in the Division I NCAA Northeast Conference (NEC). Their best season was 1991 when Coach Jim Baron led them to their only NCAA tournament appearance where they lost in the first round to Arizona 93-80.
St. Francis University is rather isolated in the beautiful Allegheny mountains of central Pennsylvania where its most notable neighbors are Mount Assisi Monastery and a Federal Prison. Despite the beautiful setting, the remainder of the experience is rather average, due to the lack of amenities in the arena and the relatively small attendance.
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There is one small snack bar in the Stokes Center that serves a very limited menu. Options include what you would probably expect from a small college basketball arena including hot dogs ($2), nachos ($3.50), soft pretzels ($2.50), slices of cheese pizza ($2.50) popcorn ($2.50), and candy and bags of chips ($1). Pepsi products are available in 20-ounce bottles for $2.
Overall, it is probably best that you eat before or after the game, but there is enough here for a snack if you get hungry.
The capacity for DeGol Arena is 3,500. The average attendance is just over 1,000 with up to about 2,000 coming out for games of more significance. The building is similar to a large high school gym, but they do have a nice video scoreboard.
The cheerleaders, dance team, and pep band add some atmosphere to an otherwise small and quiet crowd.
The St. Francis mascot "Frankie the Friar" is constantly in motion, and does a really good job of interacting with fans and improving the atmosphere.
Seating on one side of the court is wooden bleachers, but there are chairback seats on the opposite side of the floor. Every seat provides a good view of the game because it is such a small arena.
If the team was winning and the arena was sold-out, the atmosphere would be better.
St. Francis is located in the small town of Loretto, PA which is very a rural area. You need to drive four miles south to the town of Cresson or four miles west to the town of Ebensburg for restaurants, bars, and motels.
Ebensburg is your best bet. The locals recommend a great restaurant and bar called Off the Rak at 3047 New Germany Road. It's a great place to go pre-game to enjoy the food, beer, and sports bar atmosphere. There are 16 beers on tap and great wings.
There is a Quality Inn in Ebensburg if you are looking for lodging nearby, but I would recommend driving 20 miles east to Altoona where there is a Hampton Inn.
Next to St. Francis University is the Franciscan Friars Monastery which used to be the estate of Bethlehem Steel magnate Charles Schwab until he lost it during the 1929 Stock Market Crash. The 990 acre property has a unique and beautiful garden called the Alleghenies Mount Assisi Sunken Gardens, which is open to the public and worth visiting.
Forty-three miles to the south in Shanksville, Pennsylvania is the Flight 93 Memorial and Museum at the site where United 93 crashed on Sept 11, 2001. This is a MUST SEE since you are so close.
The student section doesn't show up in any kind of discernible numbers even though DeGol Arena is just a short walk from the dorms. The pep band, cheerleaders, and mascot do their best to stoke the crowd, but in general it is pretty quiet.
If the weather is good, St. Francis University is easily accessible from Highway 22, which connects Pittsburgh with I-99 in central Pennsylvania. There is no public transit. The parking lot is free, but it fills to capacity even though the games are not sold out. Get to the game early to ensure yourself a spot. There is also a preferred parking area that is reserved for season ticket holders.
There is one main gate to enter DeGol Arena, which is no problem for the small crowds that the venue attracts. There are no lines at the snack bar or restrooms.
Tickets are $12 for chairback seats close to the court, $10 for adult general admission, and $5 for students. Parking is free and food is very reasonable. Overall, even though the experience of attending a game here won't make anyone's bucket list, it still delivers a good return on your sports dollar.
There are three retired jersey banners at DeGol Arena. Number 26 hangs for Maurice Stokes, while 12 hangs in honor of Norm Van Lier and #10 for Kevin Porter.
St. Francis provides free programs, which is a nice extra.
The staff are very friendly, and help to provide a welcoming atmosphere at DeGol Arena.
If you like to listen along to games, then you can find the broadcast on local AM radio station 1400.
Member Review by collegiatestdms
Saint Francis University, often shown on the ESPN ticker as St. Francis (PA), is located in Loretta, PA. The school only has approximately 1,700 undergraduate students making it one of the smaller Division I basketball programs in the country. The Red Flash play their home games in the DeGol Arena, which is part of the Maurice Stokes Athletics Center (named for the 1955 alumnus in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame). The Center was originally built in 1971 and last renovated in 1994. The basketball arena holds 3,500 fans with access coming in at floor level.
7874 Admiral Peary Hwy
Cresson, PA 16630
102 S Center St
Ebensburg, PA 15931
St Francis Dr
Loretto, PA 15940
111 Cook Rd
Ebensburg, PA 15931