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Official Review by Scott Bultman, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
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.
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".
The food selection here is vast and the quality of options is surprising. Most collegiate hockey stadiums offer basic fare such as hot dogs, pretzels, etc. There is no shortage of choices as far as basic food goes. Hot dogs, pretzels, nachos, and hamburgers range from $3 to $9 dollars. The two items that earn praise are a burger stand and a carvery stand. Magness Arena offers a list of burgers that fans could choose from. On this day, I had a Guacamole/Swiss burger basket. For less than ten dollars, this was well worth the cost. A carvery station offers turkey, roast beef, and ham and the meat is sliced and sandwiches made right in front of your eyes. Served with chips, the sandwiches are $10. After buying a sandwich, there is a toppings station nearby with high quality veggies, cheese, and sauces. All in all, the food is decently priced compared to other hockey arenas I've been to.
Pepsi is the soda of choice at Magness with prices ranging from $3.50-$5. Alcohol is offered here as well with Guinness, Coors, Budweiser, Molson, Blue Moon, and some local brews ranging from $5 - $10 depending on size and brand.
Most stands take credit/debit cards but take cash just in case as the smaller stands tend to only take cash.
The architecture at Magness Arena is impressive. The blend of old campus and new campus goes over very well. The arena is built to look like an early 1900's building yet has the charm and appeal of a modern building. The concourses and walls are a weathered but polished brick color and design. I thought it was an older arena until I did some research. The walls of the concourse are lined with showcases of not only hockey historical events and memorabilia but all 'Pioneer' sports including golf, basketball, skiing, lacrosse, etc. Both men and women's teams are represented. DU proudly displays a banner on the concourse displaying the years where they had the highest Learfield Directors Cup ranking of non-football division one schools. There are also banners displaying who is in their conference in hockey and basketball. With all the recent changes in conferences, it is good to have a refresher.
There is also a Wall of Fame with plaques honoring individuals and teams who have made outstanding contributions in the field of intercollegiate athletics representing the University of Denver. Behind the Coors Carving Station area mentioned above is a pictorial display of the history of Coors and DU hockey. All very nicely done and I recommend getting to the arena early to visit the concourse and see and read the history displayed here. There are all the banners adorning the rafters above one end zone commemorating the championships won by the Pioneers.
The entertainment between periods is a bit lacking with a few contests involving fans. I do like the calls for fans to tweet at the DU athletics account for a chance to be on the scoreboard. Given that the games rarely sell out, you have a good chance to be on the scoreboard. Speaking of scoreboards, there are two on opposite corners of the arena as well as a square shaped one at center ice. Each do a decent job at showing stats. Be forewarned however, if you are sitting in nosebleed seats, seeing scoreboards will be a challenge due to ceiling level obstructions.
The seating areas offer plenty of legroom and the seating pitch is angled to where fans have little trouble seeing over those seating in front of them. My best advice on where to sit would be on the sides and not behind the goal.
Magness Arena is in the middle of a college campus which offers plenty of on and off campus options for fans. One block west of Magness Arena contains many establishments. South Philly Cheesesteaks is a local chain that offers many different variations of the Philadelphia favorite. They have a small bar area as well as ample restaurant seating. There are quite a few other bars, restaurants, fast-casual chains, and sit-down chain restaurants nearby as well. I did not see any hotels nearby although there are plenty within a few miles of the arena.
The DU campus is a safe and walkable campus. Going at night may mean going for the game and leaving but get there a bit early and see the campus during daylight hours. There is a golden steeple on top of a chapel that is picture worthy and the architecture is neat to see.
The fans at DU hockey games are a knowledgeable group that know when to cheer and seem to know the sport well. Fans are in their seats during play and seem into the games. For a team with so much history, the lack of peppiness however is a bit disappointing. There is a band that plays but they mostly seemed forced to play between the loud arena music during breaks and intermissions. There didn't seem to be any cheers or chants throughout the game that would distinguish this set of fans vs other college hockey fan bases throughout the country. This is a bit disappointing as the arena and history would make you think that the fans would be packing the place. On this night, the North Dakota Sioux had a great following in Magness Arena and their fans were as loud as the DU faithful.
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 ($12). After talking with the parking attendant he stated parking is $3 in the summer (school is out) and can be as high as $25 depending on the event. Free parking can be had if you are willing to walk a few blocks. I have always had success parking south of the stadium on Asbury St in a residential neighborhood. As always, watch for signs but the walk to and from the game is easy. Two blocks away from Asbury is I-25 and you can make a quick exit to wherever it is you are traveling to.
The RTD light rail will cost $4.50 round trip causing little hassle with traffic after the game. Magness Arena is two blocks from the light rail station so it is very walk-able. The light rail system in Denver is expansive and safe. For fans traveling from out of town, you can park and ride the train from anywhere in the immediate metro.
Tickets are a tad on the pricy side, ranging from $20-$40 dollars. The good thing is that there are few bad seats in the building. Since switching from the WCHA to the NCHC, there rarely comes a night where a good hockey team or a rival isn't playing at Magness. After the Big Ten hockey conference was formed, the NCHC took most of the best from the old CCHA as well as the WCHA.
The food and drinks are in line with what is paid at other collegiate or minor league hockey games.
Extra points are given for the amount of history displayed throughout the stadium. The quality of food and drink gains another extra point. Most college hockey stadiums of its size offer the basics and nothing more. One last bonus point is given for the programs that can be purchased for three dollars. These programs have a lot of material and are well worth the price.
Magness Arena is a nice venue to see a college hockey game. The building has an old school yet modern feel to it. DU is a historically great hockey program and joining the newly formed NCHC assures fans of seeing a great game on most nights. The ticket prices are a tad high but the experience is worth it.
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.
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