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Official Review by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
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.
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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".
Only three concession stands were open this game with just your traditional fare: Soda $4 - $4.75; bottled water $3.25; peanuts, candy, popcorn $3.75 - $4; pizza slice, pretzel, foot long hot dog $4 - $6.25.
Beer is served here $5 - $7.50. At this game there was just your traditional Bud, Bud Light, Molson, and etc.
There were no extra carts with distinctive food, drink or special/micro beers.
The arena was about 80% full - a much larger crowd than I expected.
There were several very nice promotions during the breaks in the game. A kid shoots and gets a basket and wins $1,000 for his/her school, a T's for 3's promotion (every time a Pioneer got a 3-pointer, a t-shirt was thrown into the stands - 16 of them this game), and only twice do I remember the music being too loud that I could not talk with my neighbor sitting next to me.
During intermission, as a part of Black History month, the Pioneers and Denver University recognized and honored a Lieutenant from the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black World War II fighter pilot squad. This gentleman received a standing ovation from all in attendance. Other local influential individuals were recognized and honored during breaks and time outs.
The announcer clearly called the name of the player who scored a basket as well as announced any called violation and foul shot.
It was comfortably warm so, unlike watching a DU Hockey game; there is no need to wear layers when seeing a basketball game.
Most of the banners and the history shown in the concourse (there're many to see and view) are not of the men's basketball program but from the other fine sporting teams and programs the University of Denver has developed. Do take some time to stroll the concourse to see and read the history displayed here.
The game I attended was part of a double header - women's basketball game in the early afternoon; men's in the late afternoon. It was announced at the men's game that since the national anthem was played during the women's game; it would not be played during the men's game.
I did not notice a hotel within walking distance (1/2 mile) to the arena. However, there are many along the RTD light rail line. There's a LaQuinta one light rail station away (without light rail, it's maybe a 1.2 mile hike to DU).
There are many eating establishments within walking distance (1/2 mile or less) of the university. There are the fast food chains of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, Starbucks, Subway, etc. Two non-fast food places I can recommend are Crimson and Gold Tavern and Spanky's Roadhouse. They are both sports bars with 5+ TVs showing a variety of sporting events. Food and service is fine, nothing fancy - a good salad or burger and a beer - which is fine by me. Of the two, I prefer Spanky's because of the service and atmosphere/décor.
There are plenty of sporting venues in the Ritchie Center (the sports complex of the University of Denver - including Magness Arena) and surrounding area: lacrosse, tennis, gymnastics, soccer, and more. Take a stroll through the campus and neighborhood to see the playing fields and the buildings that are rich with beauty and tradition - 21st century buildings mixed with those built from the 1890s - 1950s.
There were more than twice as many DU cheerleaders as DU players and those cheerleaders were very much a part of the fan base. There was a school band that did an excellent job of rooting for the Pioneers and providing music between breaks. As mentioned earlier, the arena was about 80% full for the men's game.
There was a good mix of youngsters, retirees, and middle aged folks. They all cheered and applauded when the many 3-pointers were made as well as during blocked shots and when all the other offensive and defensive plays were made.
I took the RTD light rail for $4.50 round trip causing me no hassles with traffic after the game. Magness Arena is two blocks from the light rail station so very walk-able.
If driving, Magness Arena is right off the I-25 interstate on South University Blvd. There is plenty of parking at and around the arena - 9 parking lots. From attending a previous game at Magness Arena, I remember parking prices being rather high - ranging from $3 in the summer (school is out) to as high as $25 depending on the event.
There are ample, clean bathrooms with plenty of stalls in the ladies room and no wait even right after the game ended. The concourses get crowded after the end of the game. If you're not in a rush, hang out a bit after the game and listen to a live interview with head coach Joe Scott and allow the crowd to disperse.
My recommendation, take the light rail! RTD-Denver.
Game tickets for men's games are $9 - $30 (women's game tickets range from $8 - $12). The reason this review gets a 5 is as I was walking up to the ticket booth, a lady asked me if I was buying tickets. I said yes, and she just gave me two extra tickets she had. I'll need to remember to pay that forward sometime when I have an extra ticket or two to any sporting event.
Turns out, it was a ticket to the woman's game that was currently being played and those same tickets could be used for the men's game. And, the seats were center court, facing the benches, five rows up. It was fantastic.
Getting a free ticket with a perfect seat deserves a point. Strolling through the university area and grounds that are in an arboretum setting awards another. And finally, anywhere one can take public transportation to a game/arena deserves a point.
If you are in the Denver, CO area, do take a visit to Magness Arena at the University of Denver. It holds many sporting events including, but not limited to, Denver Pioneers men's and women's basketball and men's hockey. I'll be getting back there more often.
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