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Official Review by Jeff Cheshire, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Located on Auckland's North Shore, the North Shore Events Centre plays home to the New Zealand Breakers. The Breakers are New Zealand's premier basketball franchise, forming in 2003 and playing in the Australian-based National Basketball League (NBL). The team has played at various stadiums over the years but has settled at the stadium known variously as NSEC and the Breakerdome, recently playing its 300th game in the stadium.
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".
It's hard to complain here. The NSEC offers a great range of food and drink, all at a reasonable price as far as stadium food goes. All your stadium favourites are here along with a great range of different drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. There's also plenty of places to buy from, with shops in various locations around the stadium making for easy access should you want to purchase a snack or drink while watching the game.
The atmosphere was electric. The crowd was into the game from start and it seemed to just get more and more into it as the game progressed. By the time the game got to the second period of overtime, the noise was amazing and ultimately rode the players home to victory. The players only added to this atmosphere, looking to get the crowd involved by showing plenty of emotion late in the game when they came up with a big play.
There are no bad neighbourhoods in New Zealand but whether or not you like Auckland can depend on whether or not you are a big city type of person. In general though, it is a nice place with plenty of friendly people around and lots to do if you're looking to fill in a few hours. The weather was nice, as it usually is during Breakers season as the Australian NBL is played over the summer, making for a much better experience.
Right from the start it was clear that this was a crowd of genuine fans, with many people wearing various Breakers clothing and talking excitedly about the game. Once the game got going, this was confirmed as the crowd got fully behind their team, proving to be very enthusiastic and very loud.
One can only assume that this will only improve with time, as the Breakers continue to attract more and more fans as basketball continues to grow in what has forever been a rugby-mad New Zealand. While the Breakers will always play second-fiddle to the traditionally popular sports in New Zealand, they will no doubt increase their popularity and therefore their fanbase as time goes by.
The NSEC was relatively easy to access with plenty of parking available at and close to the stadium. Getting in was a quick process with no wait time at all at the gates and well labelled signs inside meant finding your way around inside was no problem at all.
The one negative came in the fact that the NSEC is located a reasonable way out of town meaning travelling time can be fairly lengthy depending on where you were staying. Although as mentioned earlier, how much of a problem this is can depend on whether or not you are used to the big city lifestyle that comes with staying in Auckland. Staying on the North Shore would be advisable if your primary purpose is to attend a Breakers game. But if you were looking to see more of Auckland and were to find accommodation in the city, ensure you allow 30-45 minutes to get to the stadium.
Tickets come at very affordable prices, ranging from $10-$22.50, depending on your age and the quality of seats you are after. Although in saying this, there aren't any bad seats at the NSEC and whether you pay $10 or $22.50 can largely depend on how much you mind watching a game from behind the basket.
As far as the experience went, the ticket was worth every penny, making for a very high return on investment.
The above categories cover most of what the NSEC has to offer, although the various crowd activities during breaks added interest and the recent addition of the franchise's first championship banner was a nice touch.
**Photo courtesy of the North Shore Events Centre
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