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Official Review by Bryce Stevenson, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Magness Arena, home to the University of Denver Pioneers ice hockey and basketball teams, was built in 1999. Magness is a part of the larger Ritchie Center, a complex that houses student gyms and basketball courts in addition to housing the athletic department. Glass windows built into the Magness concourses give looks into swimming, volleyball and gymnastics competitions happening simultaneously to the main event. Magness seats 7,200 fans for basketball games.
After joining Division I in 1998, the Pioneers bounced between conferences, joining the Summit League in 2013. DU has 0 appearances to date in the NCAA Tournament. The most notable DU basketball alumni is actor and comedian Sinbad.
The university is centrally located in the Denver metro area, just off Interstate 25 and University Boulevard. The surrounding neighborhood has a good selection of quality food and entertainment options. While the Summit League is at the bottom of D1 in terms of basketball star power, the game lends itself to entertaining matchups between similarly talented teams.
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".
Magness Arena offers standard stadium food at prices slightly lower than what you see at professional arenas. While there aren't any truly unique food options, the quality is good for the price and choices are plentiful.
These options are located at several stands around the concourse:
Slice of Pizza $4.50
Hot Dog $4.50
Ultimate Nachos (piled high with shredded chicken or pork) $8.00
Pretzel with Cheese $5.50
Soda $4.25 (small) $5.00 (large)
Bottled Water $4.00
The following options are located only at the Crimson Club Grill:
Burger (Cheese, Bacon Cheese or Guacamole) $8.75
Chicken Sandwich $9.00
Philly Cheesesteak $9.00
Fish and Chips $9.00
Fans who have been to Magness before to see DU hockey may find that some of their favorite concession spots are closed. Due to smaller expected crowds, specialty option stands like the Carving Station may not be open for basketball games. This also reduces the variety of beer available to what is normally on tap in the main concession areas. That said, something can be found for every taste if you do a bit of hunting.
The alcohol available included domestic beer ($6.00), premium beer ($7.00) and cocktails ($8.00).
About 3,000 fans attended the day I visited Magness - less than 50% of listed capacity. This led to a quiet, relaxing Saturday afternoon crowd. The DU band and cheerleaders are all enthusiastic, making sure that the game has the typical college feel. A close game helps to elevate the feeling in the building, but there's only so much that 3,000 fans can do.
There is typical halftime entertainment: a sponsored segment featuring two students trying to sink a halfcourt shot to win cash, and a scrimmage between two teams of third graders.
As a typical urban university, the neighborhood around DU has numerous options for food, drink and other entertainment. College town fast casual chains offer reliable eats - the flagship Chipotle location is a few blocks from campus - while a few specialty restaurants offer a unique treat. Jerusalem is a big favorite of the students who are looking for Middle Eastern food at all hours. The Stadium Inn offers the nostalgia of your favorite dive bar from college. My recommendation? A visit to Fermaentra on Evans for some excellent craft beer and delicious food trucks.
If you are looking for dessert, make the short trek north of Interstate 25 to Bonnie Brae Ice Cream. You can thank me by passing your newfound knowledge of the best selection of ice cream in Denver onto someone else.
The fans, while relaxed, cheer loudly when the Pioneers play well. The fans I talked to seem like they attend more than 75% of DU home games, and enjoy the family atmosphere at games.
There is one obvious fan shortfall - the students. I could see almost no student presence at all, for a 4pm game on Senior Day. I realize that DU is far from a national powerhouse when it comes to basketball, but games are very affordable and there is little reason to not show up to honor players who have played more than 100 games in a DU uniform.
Due to the university's location in south Denver along Interstate 25, access is very easy for a large portion of the Denver metro area.
Several parking lots and garages on the north half of campus are made available for athletic events. There are two pricing tiers - $5 and $10 - predictably separated by distance and the presence of a garage. It's possible to find street parking 2 or 3 streets away from the campus, but expect a game of whack-a-mole while driving up and down sidestreets trying to find a spot. There is also free parking in a campus lot off of Buchtel and University, an appealing alternative to hunting spots in the surrounding neighborhood.
If parking or driving aren't your thing, or ample enjoyment of the local breweries is a prominent feature of your itinerary, you're in luck - the E, F and H lines of the RTD's Light Rail train system serve a station at the University of Denver. With more Light Rail stations and lines scheduled to open soon, more and more of the Denver metro area will be able to take advantage of affordable mass transit to get to the game.
Tickets are cheap and plentiful, making DU basketball an enticing option for a night out with the family. Basketball as a game remains enjoyable even if you aren't watching the best of the best, and the close proximity to the court means that you can see every second of the action. Affordable stadium food and cheap (or even free!) parking combine to make an excursion to Magness to watch some college basketball easy on your wallet.
The options in the surrounding neighborhood cannot be understated. The DU area of Denver offers a variety of food with exceptional quality, and the entire area is very walkable.
Because Magness Arena also hosts hockey games, there is significant empty space behind the corners of the baselines. If you sit in "corner" seats, this can mean you end up quite far from the court with some weird viewing angles. Try to get a seat along the sidelines.
Watching some basketball at the University of Denver offers an opportunity for fans of any age to enjoy college level play for very affordable prices. The atmosphere can be a bit lacking, and minimal student influence deprives the game of some college atmosphere, but the experience is still a positive one.
Member Review by megminard on Feb 21, 2012
Although Denver University (DU Pioneers) is more known for its ice hockey program, team, and success than its basketball program, their men’s basketball team is nothing to scoff at this 2011-2012 season.
The basketball program at Denver University has existed since 1904 and was first played at the Denver Alumni Gymnasium, then at the DU Field House Arena where they played for 50 years, and is now played at Magness Arena which opened in 1999 on the same spot where the DU Field House Arena had once stood.
The Pioneers currently are in the Sun Belt Conference, however, the University of Denver accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), effective the 2012-13 athletic season.
Member Review by Scott Bultman on Feb 12, 2015
The Denver University Pioneers began play in 1949 and have a proud history. They currently are in the newly formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) and play in Magness Arena. Magness Arena is part of the Daniel L. Ritchie Center, a sports complex that houses most indoor DU athletics. It is not uncommon for fans to be able to see a swimming or water polo event while seeing a hockey or basketball game at Magness.
The proud history is evident with the Pioneers as they have won seven national titles. This total is tied for second in NCAA history with North Dakota. Only the University of Michigan has more national titles (9). Famous Pioneer alumni include Glenn Anderson, Kevin Dineen, Paul Stastny, Peter McNab, and Bill Masterton.
Member Review by megminard on Mar 15, 2015
Although Denver University (DU Pioneers) is more known for the success of its ice hockey program than its basketball program, their men’s basketball team is nothing to scoff at and has been on the rise in recent seasons.
The basketball program at Denver University has existed since 1904 and the team first played at the Denver Alumni Gymnasium, and then at the DU Field House Arena where they played for 50 years. Today, home games are played at Magness Arena which opened in 1999 on the same spot where the DU Field House Arena had once stood.
The Pioneers have recently played in the Sun Belt Conference, and the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Beginning the 2013-2014 athletic season the basketball team joined the Summit League.
2017 S University Blvd
Denver, CO 80210
1800 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80210
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1975 South Colorado Blvd
Denver, CO 80222