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Official Review by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The sport of lacrosse is growing in Colorado with plenty of high school, youth and adult teams, leagues, and clubs.
Two professional lacrosse teams are located in Denver, CO. The MLL (Major League Lacrosse) Outlaws play at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and the NLL (National League Lacrosse) Mammoth play at the Pepsi Center.
The Pepsi Center is a multi-purpose venue in downtown Denver, CO. It is also home of the NBA Nuggets and the NHL Avalanche, as well as an event center for many concerts and conventions throughout the year. The team less portrayed in its souvenir shop, along the walls, and in advertisements is the NLL Mammoth.
Founded in 2003, the Colorado Mammoth are celebrating their 14th season in the NLL this year (2017). They have made the playoffs all but one of their years in existence. They won the NLL Championship in 2006 and won division championships in 2003, 2004, and 2007. It’s been awhile since they’ve placed a banner on the rafters. Will this be the year?
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 Pepsi Center offers a wide range of options at expensive prices. There are many more food and drink choices on the first level than the third. If you have tickets for the third level, I recommend strolling around the first level and finding something to eat there, use the tables/chairs scattered throughout the concourse for consuming the food and drink, then head up to the seats in the third level.
Selections include the standard hot dogs, pizza, pretzels, nachos, popcorn, candy, etc. Different or unique options are baked potatoes, chicken sandwiches, cheese steak sandwiches, chicken and waffles, mac and cheese balls, grilled cheese sandwiches, Go Nuts, bratwurst, Caesar salad, and onion rings. Pepsi varieties (of course) are the soda choice.
The traditional domestic beer offerings like Coors, Coors Light, Bud, Bud Light, and Miller Lite are available The venue offers local brews such as Colorado Native, Dales Pale Ale, Odells, Breckenridge (most of these are on level 100) and other beer offerings include Fat Tire, Stella, Shock Top, and Red Hook. Premium cocktails, vodka lemonade, Moscow mule and basically, anything you might want to drink is here.
One point of note - some concession stands are closed during Mammoth games as the fan attendance is not as large as at an Avalanche or Nuggets game. And, outside food and beverages are not allowed in the Pepsi Center.
The Mammoth put on a good show; it is all very well coordinated. The introduction includes motorcycles on the court and smoke and fire when the Mammoth players are announced. The young, pretty Wild Bunch dancers entertain the crowd during breaks in the game. And, a half time show includes various entertainment acts.
Several promotions are offered throughout the season such as Lacrosse Put Out Cancer, player autographs after game, and youth lacrosse games to name a few.
Willie B is no longer the announcer/emcee for the Mammoth. The new announcer still does a great job getting the fans to ring their cow bells, make noise, and is a fine source of entertainment and motivation at a game but it's just not the same. I can't always hear exactly what words he is verbalizing as it is muffled.
The temperature of the venue is fine. Bring layers just in case it's too warm or too cold.
I was extremely disappointed at the Pepsi Center's customer service and did not feel welcome at the game of this review. Getting through security was not fan friendly. And, at end the of the game, on the third level, while peering to look down at the set up for an autograph session I was brusquely told "It's time to Get Out." I do not have a desire to go back. Hopefully, this will be different should you attend.
Downtown Denver is a happening place to be. Numerous restaurants, bars, and shopping are within four or five blocks of the arena. It is safe walking in and around the downtown area before or after a game.
Denver is known for its craft brews. Be sure to take a brewery tour if you're a connoisseur of the hops. I'd recommend Wynkoop's at the corner of 18th St and Wynkoop St or Jagged Mountain (good IPAs) at the corner of 20th St and Lawrence St.
The 16th Street Mall is just within a few blocks and is a pedestrian outdoor mall containing many of those shops and eateries. Free shuttle buses cruise the 1.25 mile strip and one can hop and off at most corners as desired.
Check out recently renovated Union Station, a historic train station just a few blocks away. This houses a hotel, shops, bars, restaurants, and a public park atmosphere. A good place to eat pre or postgame is the Thirsty Lion - it has a happy hour every day with a wide variety of beers and appetizer choices (enough for a meal).
Across the parking lot from the Pepsi Center is Brooklyn's, a sports bar good for a bite to eat before or after the game, though it can get crowded. If the downstairs bar is full, head up the stairs. There is a bar area up there which might not be as full.
The closest hotel is the Springhill Suites by Marriott and is only a .2 mile walk to the Pepsi Center and is walking distance to most of the downtown activities and venues.
The Mammoth fans are pretty spectacular.
As Mammoth player introductions are made, all fans stand, ring their cow bells and cheer. They boo the visiting team during their introduction and turn an about-face as they are announced.
When the Mammoth score a goal, fans high-five their neighbors in celebration; doesn't really matter if you're a stranger.
When an opposing team's player gets a penalty, fans chant, "Hey #xx
Average attendance has declined a bit over the years and the arena is not as packed as it once was: In the 2000's, the average attendance ranged from 16,000 - 17,000; so far in the 2010's that number has reduced to 13,000 - 15,000 a game.
My recommendation for a Mammoth game (and any event/game at the Pepsi Center) is to take the RTD Light Rail and get off at the Pepsi Center/Elitch Gardens Station. New in 2016 is an A Line train from DIA (Denver International Airport) direct to the Union Station, a short ˝ mile walk to the Pepsi Center. Fans who want to visit a Mammoth game and downtown Denver won't necessarily require a car rental anymore.
If driving, take I-25 and get off at Auraria Parkway if coming from the south or Speer Blvd if coming from the north. Parking on the grounds ranges from $15 - $30. The $30 is valet parking and is open the general public. The nearby Auraria Campus, home of the University of Colorado Denver and Metro State University, has cheaper parking while only being a 5-10 minute walk to the arena.
Getting through security is hit or miss. Sometimes the gate staff are courteous other times they appear to growl and roll their eyes in annoyance at fans entering the venue and security area, which is what happened on this game day review. This needs to be improved as fans don't always feel welcome.
Hang out for a few minutes after the game and don't leave immediately after the winning goal (but only just a few minutes otherwise you'll be told to 'Get Out'). Players celebrate; shake hands with opponents like they do in the hockey playoffs and Stanley Cups finals. Players walk the entire court raising their sticks to the fans to show their appreciation. Sometimes there's an interview with a player after the game; other times a postgame autograph session is setup.
Plenty of operational bathrooms are available with minimal or no wait.
Tickets range from $10 ($12 when purchased game day) - $76. New in 2017 are general admission seats. For $21, a fan can sit anywhere in sections 112 - 114 (rows eight and above behind one of the nets).
Go to Happy Hour at the Thirsty Lion to lower food/drink expense and consider taking the light rail.
Although ticket prices are inexpensive compared to the other teams at the Pepsi Center, I just can't give a high ROI at an arena whose staff member tells me to 'Get Out.'
Three retired Mammoth jerseys hang from the rafters: #22 Gary Gait (widely known as the best lacrosse player of all time), #6 Brian Langtry, and #9 Gavin Prout.
To those 'conversion crews' who convert a basketball court on a Fri evening to a hockey arena for the following Sat afternoon to a lacrosse venue that same Sat evening then back again for a Sun evening basketball game.
For being able to take in a doubleheader. Once or twice a year a fan can see an Avalanche and a Mammoth at the Pepsi Center the same day.
The game of box lacrosse is an exciting, enjoyable, fantastic game to watch live. And, I'd recommend anyone who hasn't seen a game yet to check it out. Customer service and being made feel welcome needs to improve at the Pepsi Center to make the entire experience worth coming back.
Member Review by megminard on Mar 14, 2012
The Pepsi Center is a multi-purpose venue in downtown Denver, CO. It is the home of the NLL Mammoth, NBA Nuggets, NHL Avalanche, and also serves as an event center for concerts and conventions throughout the year. The team less portrayed in its souvenir shop, along the walls, and in advertisements is the NLL Mammoth. None the less, the Mammoth games are equally as fun and entertaining to attend at the Pepsi Center as its other sports teams.
Founded in 2003, the Colorado Mammoth are celebrating their 10th season in the NLL this year (2012). They won the NLL Championship in 2006 and have won their division championship in two additional years.
I still don’t quite understand all the rules of lacrosse, particularly the penalties. Why whacking an opponent’s helmet off the front of his head isn’t called a penalty, boggles me. The game feels like a mix between hockey and basketball. The NLL players seem to know and respect each other; however, there are times that some scuffles break out.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on Jan 22, 2014
Surprisingly well attended franchise here. As this is a venue used by both the NBA and NHL, it has all the major league food options, but prices are a bit much. I loved the Arby's burgers on the 100 level, but at $6.25, a bit more than you would pay outside, but what else is new. Parking is also overpriced, but easy to exit after the game. There are ticket deals, including a "Guys night out" which gives you 2 tickets, 2 beers (or sodas) and $10 credit at the gift shop for $29. The NLL generally only plays on the weekend, but they can switch between hockey and lacrosse quite quickly, so check for a doubleheader, which happens once or twice a year.
Member Review by bryce.stevenson on May 22, 2015
Lacrosse was once a niche sport in this country. You would have been hard pressed to find a lacrosse stick west of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The popularity of lacrosse is surging - US Lacrosse reports a 34% increase in boys teams and a 36% increase in girls teams at the high school level since 2013. Professional leagues have sprung up as the game begins to spread - Major League Lacrosse has teams playing traditional outdoor lacrosse, and the National Lacrosse League has led the charge of box lacrosse. Box lacrosse takes all of the skill and athleticism of traditional lacrosse and compresses into a playing field the size of an ice hockey rink. And yes, they leave the boards up.
After playing in Baltimore, Washington DC and Pittsburgh, the team currently known as the Mammoth arrived in Denver in 2003. Owned by local sports and real estate baron Stan Kroenke, the Mammoth set up shop and became a big hit immediately, setting league attendance records in 2004 and 2006, and winning the league's Champion's Cup in 2006.
Opened in 1999, the Pepsi Center houses each of Kroenke Sports Enterprises' arena teams - the Mammoth, the Nuggets, and the Avalanche. The "Can" replaced the aging McNichols Arena, and despite being 16 years old, still feels brand new. Official seating capacity for lacrosse games is 18,007, with the seating configuration being identical to the setup used for NHL games.
901 Auraria Pkwy
Denver, CO 80204
1000 Chopper Circle
Denver, CO 80204
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1190 Auraria Pkwy
Denver, CO 80204