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Official Review by Andy Mantsch, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Cal State University-Bakersfield is a California public university founded in 1965 in Bakersfield, CA. The Roadrunners athletics program was originally an NCAA Division II program, and had a very successful run at that level in basketball during the 90’s which included three National Championships. In 2006, the Roadrunners began their transition to Division 1. In July of 2013, the program joined the once prestigious Western Athletic Conference for most sports, including basketball.
The Icardo Center is a 3,800 seat arena opened in 1989 that is used for several UCSB sports. Named for prominent UCSB Boosters Jimmie and Marjorie Icardo, the 44,000 square foot arena is best known for its unique blue floor. The new court went in with much fanfare during a major renovation in the fall of 2011. If nothing else, the blue court at the Icardo Center is what makes a Roadrunners game worth seeing.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Basically, be sure you eat before you arrive. The concessions window is on your left when you enter the arena, and consists of only snack items. Candy bars, popcorn and soft drinks at vending machine prices make up your concession options inside the Icardo Center. On the occasion of my visit, there was barbeque being cooked outside the front doors for purchase, but by the second half they had packed up shop and left. So if you're counting on catching dinner and a game, you'll be disappointed.
The Icardo Center is in the heart of campus, so there is a turnout that's not awful like some small D1 venues. You'll have the option to choose from General Admission which consists of bleacher seats on either side of the court or Premium Seating which is assigned seatback seating at midcourt on the east side. There are Icardo Center employees monitoring very closely to ensure you don't take a Premium Seat that's not yours, so this is not a venue that you can buy General Admission and expect to get the "wanderer's upgrade" to midcourt seats.
As you enter, there are two doors that will take you into the court. Immediately on your left will be the student section that consists of a small but relatively mighty group of students including a small pep band. A decent number of supporters fill up the first ten to twenty rows of the arena, but the highlight for any traveler is the blue court. The floor is a very royal blue with a giant Roadrunner logo in the center, giving a very nice and new (if not slippery) view of the game. Scoreboards are on either end, but don't expect to find a video board for those all important instant replays.
There's not a lot to speak of in terms of the area. The Icardo Center is in the heart of a pretty average-in-every-way campus. You won't find tree lined streets and old style architecture at CSUB, instead it's a wide open campus of buildings that resemble an office park. It's wholly distinguishable as a college campus only by the green areas and athletic fields in the surrounding area.
CSUB is located about 20 minutes from downtown Bakersfield across Rte. 99, so it's in strip mall suburbia. Chain restaurants like Tahoe Joe's and the Elephant Bar are popular eateries in the immediate vicinity. Downtown Bakersfield is a bit of a drive, but offers some more options. The Padre Hotel is particularly popular as an upscale restaurant and bar scene. The Wool Growers Restaurant is another unique option in the area with some interesting cuisine. Overall, Bakersfield is a fairly large city (although it doesn't really seem it), so there are plenty of options around town.
There's not a whole lot to talk about here. The presence of an organized student section with the pep band instantly makes this slightly better than a lot of small conference venues around the country. They even sport the Roadrunner logo (who wouldn't?) pretty regularly. But if there was any organization or traditions from the Division II championship days they've long since gone. They'll cheer for their team at the right times, but anything more than that is non-existent.
Bakersfield is off the beaten path in California just a bit, but Rte. 99 cuts right through the area. Campus is about a 10 minute drive along the Kern River away from 99. Be prepared in advance, because GPS does not seem to know where the Icardo Center is in campus and will just take you to the heart of CSUB. You'll want to enter campus from the south on Roadrunner Drive, as all roads from the north won't cut through. There is a large covered lot just south of the Icardo Center that is free for parking on gameday, so it's easy from there on out. Once you enter, the court is dead ahead through two doors. Restrooms are on your right and, while small, offer more than enough room for the small number of fans. Traffic is essentially non-existent, so there is no need to worry about getting in and out.
General Admission tickets for a Roadrunners game start at $12, which struck me as a bit pricey for such a not-in-demand sports experience. Reserved seats start at $16 with floor seats going for $50 (really? $50?). The good news is all kids get tickets for $5. Parking is free, but that's to be expected at this level. And food, well, there isn't really any food unless you call a Snickers bar dinner. Overall, other than paying to see a blue basketball court, prices aren't in alignment with the product you're getting.
Some credit can be awarded here strictly for the blue court. It's really the only thing that distinguishes CSUB basketball from hundreds of programs across the country. While the Roadrunner is cool, I couldn't even get a T-shirt because there is no onsite store or item sales. Overall, it feels sort of like the Roadrunners expect people to come and pay ticket prices, but aren't offering a whole lot of amenities back to the visiting fan.
Member Review by Vandals224 on Apr 16, 2015
This place is lame. Ugly to be in and even look at. Blue court looks way too cartoonish. Awful arena they need to go back to the downtown arena.
620 East 19th Street
Bakersfield, CA 93305
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