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Official Review by Ryan Norris, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Stanford Cardinal have won 116 national championships across all sports. The men’s basketball team is responsible for one of those championships back in 1942. The have also won two NIT championships and have been to four Sweet Sixteens, most recently in 2008.
Built in 1969, Maples Pavilion has been home to the Stanford men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as the women’s volleyball team. Maples underwent a $30 million renovation in 2004 and currently holds 7,392 spectators.
Prior to playing at Maples Pavilion, the basketball teams played at Stanford Pavilion. In true Stanford fashion, this old building has been preserved and renovated and is now known as Burnham Pavilion and Ford Center, home to the gymnastics teams, the wrestling team and the men’s volleyball team.
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".
Maples Pavilion has a most impressive food menu for college basketball and a venue its size. The quality is also superior to what you find elsewhere in like venues.
At "From The Farm, For The Farm," you'll find Italian sausage with grilled onions and bell peppers ($11), German bratwurst with apricot chutney or sauerkraut($11), chicken tenders with waffle fries ($10), cheeseburger ($9) spicy black bean burger ($9), all beef dog on brioche roll ($8), Gordon Biersch garlic fries ($7), and waffle fries ($5).
At the California Pizza Kitchen stand you can get personal pizzas for $10. Options include cheese, BBQ chicken and pepperoni. Other options include BBQ chicken chopped salad ($10), Tuscan hummus & pita ($8), spinach & artichoke dip with tortilla chips ($8), Sedona tortilla soup ($5) and Dakota smashed pea & barley soup ($5).
At "Cardinal Fast Break," you'll find turkey, chicken caesar or veggie wrap ($8), caesar salad ($7), popcorn ($10/$6) and fruit cups ($4). Desserts available at this stand are warm chocolate chip cookie sundae ($8) and Hagan Dazs ice cream bar ($6).
Drinks at Maples include soda ($6), bottled water ($4), espresso drinks ($7), Starbucks coffee ($4) and hot chocolate ($4).
The most unique feature of Maples Pavilion is that once you have your ticket scanned and enter the building, you realize you're not really in the building yet. The outer building is separated by a small gap, at a 45 degree angle, from the inner building. On nice California days, this makes for a refreshing environment just outside of the gym. This area also serves as the concourse, housing all the concession stands and restrooms.
Maples Pavilion is split into an upper and lower level. The lower level is made up of assigned chair-backed seats with the exception of one sideline which is risers in which the student section stands. The sidelines in the upper level are assigned bench seating while the endlines are general admission bench seating.
A four sided scoreboard with video is hung from the center of the gym. It has all of the stats for the players on the court and streams the live action as well as replays. The screen isn't the nicest but plenty sufficient for a venue this size.
The sound system is excellent but the crowd does not make the amount of noise you typically expect for a college basketball venue.
In each corner, facing the floor, is a banner of sorts. One is the American flag while the other three represent the men's basketball, women's basketball and women's volleyball team accomplishments.
The best thing about the neighborhood of Maples Pavilion is the beauty of being on the Stanford campus and all of the impressive sports venues nearby. It is near Stanford Stadium and Sunken Diamond as well as the tennis stadium, aquatics center, track & field stadium, rugby field, and on and on. All of the venues are impressive sites.
You can pay $2 to do a tour of Hoover Tower or check out the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. I like to park a few blocks away in Palo Alto and walk through the Eucalyptus Grove on my way to games.
The closest shopping and dining options are across the El Camino Real in the Town & Country Village. Most popular here is Gott's Roadside which has excellent food but is very crowded during peak times. Other good options here are Howie's Pizza and Scott's Seafood. There are also specialty stores if you like to shop.
Downtown Palo Alto is just a few blocks beyond the Town & Country Village shopping center and there are even more shops and restaurants to check out there. Palo Alto is a very affluent community and the downtown reflects that.
The most popular sports bars are The Old Pro and The Patio. They have similar options for food and drink but The Patio offers outdoor seating and The Old Pro seems a bit more college-centric.
There are a ton of dinner options including Pampas (Brazilian steakhouse), Tamarine (Vietnamese), St Michael's Alley (American) and La Strada (Italian). I like Crepevine for breakfast or lunch because it is affordable and has great portions.
The beautiful Stanford Theatre is located in downtown Palo Alto and shows black & white films from the 1940s and 50s.
Lastly, Palo Alto is located in close proximity to two major cities. It is 20 miles north of San Jose and 35 miles south of San Francisco on the peninsula.
There is a definitive older sect of fans at Maples Pavilion. This is due no doubt to the expensive donation you must make to get the season tickets in the lower level. This creates a dynamic where there is an older crowd on one side of the court and the student section opposite them.
The student section was a bit of a disappointment. They did not create a substantial home court advantage. In fact, at times Stanford will donate these standing room seats to local kids groups. This is a noble thing to do but the kids sit down and talk amongst themselves during the game and take up half of the would-be student section.
The crowd is a mix in demographics and is a great outing for families looking for an affordable, accessible basketball option. Most of the fans stay engaged and cheer on the Cardinal at appropriate times. The fans are good but don't compare to the atmosphere created at a Cardinal football game.
Stanford sits between two major freeways (101 and 280) and along the thoroughfare El Camino Real. This provides easy routes in to and out of the university with ease unless it is rush hour. Palo Alto as with much of the vehicle-heavy peninsula is troubled by severe traffic after work hours. Your problem is solved if you take Caltrain which runs from San Francisco to San Jose. The closest station is Palo Alto Station.
The main drag in Palo Alto is the El Camino Real and it runs north/south from just south of San Francisco to San Jose. From El Camino Real you take Galvez St into campus and make a left onto Campus Drive. Parking is available across the street in parking structure 7, adjacent parking lot 11 is for season ticket holders only.
Street parking is available on evenings and weekends in Palo Alto and I recommend enjoying the walk to Maples Pavilion.
Access within the pavilion is excellent. You can enter through three of the four corners and end up in wide, spacious corridors. You can walk all the way around the interior building and can enter at your section number. When you find your section you walk up into the interior and then either up again to the upper level or back down to the lower level. The two parts to the building really is unique and convenient for access.
Basketball ticket pricing has been restructured in recent years and now is much more affordable. General admission tickets to non-rival games, even if the opponent is within the PAC-12, are now only $15. Sideline upper level tickets are $25. Of course these prices go up if the opponent is Cal or other rivals.
The competition in the PAC-12 is solid and the tickets are very reasonable. Unfortunately concession prices are quite high but you can avoid that by eating before the game.
In my opinion, any excuse to spend time on the beautiful Stanford campus is a good excuse.
One extra is the unique indoor/outdoor feel to Maples Pavilion and the fact that it is part of the greater beauty of the campus. Secondly, Maples has earmarks of the past in the championship banners and the statue outside of Hank Luisetti. Finally, a point is awarded to the fantastic Stanford band and the dancing tree mascot. Both create a very unique experience, not replicated by any other schools.
Member Review by ryannorris
President Herbert Hoover, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the Lopez brothers; the brightest and most promising young minds have walked the halls of Stanford University.
Opened in 1968 and benefitting from a $30 million touch-up, Maples Pavilion is the home of the Stanford Cardinal basketball teams and women's volleyball team. This sleek, up-scale college basketball haven sits on the spacious Stanford campus in the heart of the San Francisco Peninsula.
This particular night featured the hometown Cardinal squaring off with the Bruins of UCLA. It was a particularly dreary Thursday night in the Bay Area and the crowd may have lacked because of this. We Californians can't handle the rain, it's nearly society stopping. So, dodging luxury vehicles in the parking lot, I made my way to the entrance and entered the well-kept arena, about 90 percent full.
The facility is beautiful. Glass windows surround the wide corridors revealing well-manicured swimming pools and football fields. The promenades surrounding the court within the facility have an indoor/outdoor feel with one end of the arena uncovered from the elements. This allows for plenty of ventilation in the walkways and refreshing atmosphere.
Glass doors lead you to the warm pavilion atmosphere. Head up the stairs into the cytoplasm and find your seat. Mine was about 20 rows behind the backboard, revealing the student section to my left and the Stanford tree front and center.
855 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94301
640 Emerson St
Palo Alto, CA 94301
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