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Official Review by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Sitting atop a hill overlooking the ocean, Pepperdine University with its trees, grass, and other of nature’s beauty surrounding its campus, without a doubt has to be one of the most scenic campuses in the country.
Should you find yourself driving north on Pacific Coast Highway, as you approach Pepperdine you may notice a tall tower marked with a cross overlooking PCH. That is Phillips Theme Tower, one of the more recognizable landmarks on campus. Though this holy landmark does its best to bring positive vibes, it has also been involved in its share of controversy.
Not far from the tower and a stone’s throw from Firestone Fieldhouse is Alumni Park, a grassy hill overlooking the ocean that makes for a nice tranquil pregame destination. Just kick back, bring the picnic basket full of goodies along with the picnic blanket, and become one with the cool ocean breeze.
Then of course, there is Firestone Fieldhouse, an intimate venue with a capacity of just over 3,100, perfect for a school with a small student enrollment. That’s not to say that support for the local five is not in evidence, as crowds here can be vocal.
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There is only one concession stand that serves the entire venue. Your basic stadium fare is available including hot dogs ($3) bratwursts ($3.50), frozen lemonade ($3), popcorn ($2.50), and chips ($1.50). Aside from the standard fare, specialty sandwiches are also available, including a Caprese sandwich for any vegetarians ($7.50).
Vending machines are also on site dispensing bottled Coke products for $1.50, the norm for what you would probably pay for a bottled soda at any vending machine. Kudos for not hiking up the prices on the sodas as most any venue would do.
Fans show a great amount of enthusiasm, often times stomping on the wooden floors of the bleachers during various moments to create added noise in their attempt to help halt the visiting team.
One of the nice things about watching a game in such an intimate venue is that the seats are never too far away from the floor, and interactions between the coaches, players and officials can definitely be heard. Because of the close proximity between the stands and the court, officials are never too far away from any in-game commentary fans may have.
Words just can't describe the scenery that surrounds this intimate campus. One of my favorite on-campus sites is Alumni Park, a 30 acre grassy hill that overlooks the Pacific Ocean with breathtaking views of Pacific Coast Highway looking northward. The park is open to the general public so if you should have time to kill before a game (I highly recommend that you do), you may want to bring a picnic blanket, lay it out over the grass, and just soak in the local scenery. Alumni Park also makes for great recreational use, as evidenced by the locals playing a little soccer and football.
Also nearby for those of you who are into ancient art and architecture is The Getty Villa, located about 10 minutes south of campus on Pacific Coast Highway.
Duke's Malibu is a popular spot among the locals. Various drink specials are offered every night after 4PM for Aloha Hour. Depending on the time of year, with its beachside location, you may even see some of the ocean's wildlife as whales and dolphins can be seen out onto the distant waves.
During my most recent visit, it was an afternoon where no pep band or mascot would be spotted, but the fans that did show up proved that they would not need either to get them involved, as they made plenty of noise on the wooden bleachers throughout the entire contest. The fact these fans did not need much to maintain their high energy level throughout the contest speaks highly of those in attendance.
Though there is really only one major route to arrive by, the view driving along PCH, especially when driving in the afternoon, can be worth the drive to Malibu alone. Unfortunately, Malibu is far from any major locations in Los Angeles. With practically no lodging options nearby campus, chances are great that your drive will be quite a distant one. Also, because you will be arriving via PCH, if arriving from Los Angeles, Santa Monica or points south, traffic can also be an issue, especially if driving during the week, so be ready for your patience to be tested.
As you do arrive on campus you will be driving up a hill toward the parking area. The lot, offering free and ample parking, is highlighted by the markings of numerous basketball courts on the black asphalt. I imagine the lot is also used for recreation as well with hoops set up on each court during non-game events.
The seating areas are divided by two levels. The lower level is made up of wooden bleacher seating on both sides of the court. While the bleachers can be great for creating noise, the seating is pretty cramped and walking the aisles can also require quite an effort.
The upper level, not far from the court, offers actual seats. However, some of those seats can be obstructed by television camera crews. Overall, the seats up here offer a great value and are the best choice.
On the south end is a crystal clear video board that also acts as the main scoreboard. While there are scoreboards located on each end of the court, the one on the south end is the most informative, displaying player stats throughout the game.
With tickets ranging from $15-$25 the costs, especially for the $15 general admission seats in the upper level, are pretty reasonable.
While its scenic location may be worth the drive, the downside to that is that for many, the drive will be quite a distance. Should you make the effort to catch a game here at Pepperdine, I highly recommend that you make a day of it by taking in some of the local pre/postgame spots mentioned. This would be a great way of rewarding your effort in coming out to Malibu.
Inside the venue as you walk through the lobby is a display of Pepperdine's National Championships, mostly accomplished by their men's volleyball teams. Banners of their National Title accomplishments are also displayed on the south end inside the arena.
If there was ever a category for originality, the pep squad would definitely rank high just for the fact that they come dressed in orange jump suits.
I left impressed by the school's spirit squads, from their yell squad decked out in orange jump suits to the dance team, known as the Pom Squad. Of the various dance teams I've had the chance to observe, not including USC or UCLA, Pepperdine's Pom Squad would rank at the top when it comes to originality in both dance routines and presentation.
Given the venue's small capacity, you will never be far from the action. While the commute to Firestone Fieldhouse can take a toll if done regularly, the scenery surrounding the campus and an enthusiastic atmosphere for the home team will certainly be a more than rewarding experience.
For more sights and sounds from Firestone Fieldhouse, see the video below:
Member Review by DrewCieszynski
Malibu is known more for its beautiful scenery and being home of many of entertainment's biggest stars, but it is also home to possibly the most beautiful campus in all of college basketball.
Pepperdine University sits atop a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and California Route 1, with green trees and grass surrounding it year round. Firestone Fieldhouse became the home of the Men's basketball program on November 30, 1973. The venue was not formally dedicated until 1975 when President Gerald R. Ford did the honors.
While we hear that the effect of home court advantage is diminishing in sports, it doesn't appear to be the case at Firestone Fieldhouse as the basketball and volleyball programs have won more than 70 percent of contests held there.
While the official capacity is listed 3,104, it often feels like much more due to the rowdy student section. The university manages to squeeze more fans into the Fieldhouse for the big events; the largest crowd on record was in 1976 when 4,500 fans watched Pepperdine upset #3 ranked UNLV.
21150 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
3900 Cross Creek Rd
Malibu, CA 90265
23410 Civic Center Way
Malibu, CA 90265
17985 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265
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