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Official Review by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
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.
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 an extremely wide range of options at expensive prices. There are many more food and drink options 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; then head up to the seats in the third level.
Just some of the concessions you'll find are:
• Arena Grill offering overpriced burgers and foot long dogs or brats from $6.50 - $15.00 (depends if you get fries and soda with it)
• Jalapeno Café which offers you the more spicy Mexican type fare
• Big Stack BBQ which provides pulled pork and beef brisket sandwiches
• Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory with all kinds of caramel apples and other goodies
• Pizza, Mini donuts stand, Baked potato bar, Go Nuts (which creates a heavenly aroma on the concourse)
There are many, many, many options for alcoholic beverages:
• Vodka lemonade stands ($8.50)
• You'll find Toucan Pub and Tuaca Chill Zone who offer wine, cocktails, margaritas, domestic and premium draft beers from $6 - $8.25
• Many of the other concession stands and bars on the concourse offer: Blue Moon, Colorado Native, Bud, Bud Light, Molson, etc.
One point of note - some concession stands take credit card; some are cash only.
At the start of the 2012 season, Brian Langtry's #6 was raised to the rafters next to that of #22 Gary Gait (widely known as the best lacrosse player of all time). So, there are now two retired Mammoth banners proudly hanging from the rafters of the Pepsi Center in addition to the many others from the Avalanche and the Nuggets.
Also hanging from the rafters is the 2006 NLL Championship banner as well as the three division championship banners.
The Mammoth put on a good show; it is all very well coordinated. There are the introductions with motorcycles on the floor and smoke and fire when the Mammoth players are announced. There are the young, pretty Wild Bunch dancers entertaining the crowd during breaks in the game. And, a half time show that included dogs racing and jumping at the game I visited.
Willie B is the announcer for the Mammoth and does a fantastic job getting the fans to ring their cow bells, make noise, and is a fine source of entertainment and motivation at a game. I couldn't always hear exactly what words he was verbalizing but I definitely got the message and emotion.
Something is a little bit different at this venue - instead of having the game-day staff shoot t-shirts into the crowd using a cannon, there is one man who dances, gets the fans riled up, and throws the shirts into the section(s) he is near - even pulling off and throwing up to 7 or 8 layers of t-shirts he is wearing as he dances. At the game I attended, he only showed himself in the lower level so if you've got a ticket in the 100 level watch for him.
The temperature of the venue was just fine, almost warm. No need to bundle up or layer off.
Pepsi Center is in lower downtown Denver and has plenty of nearby restaurants, clubs, and entertainment.
A stone's throw away from the Pepsi Center is Elitch Gardens (amusement park) and Brooklyn's (sports bar).
Attached to the Pepsi Center is the Blue Sky Grill and it opens 2 hours before the game. Go here if you want better food vs. Brooklyn's. Brooklyn's does have a decent beer selection. One can have a drink at the bar and/or decent food prior to attending a Mammoth game at either place.
Cow Bells. I need to get me some.
The arena seats 18,007 for lacrosse games. The paid attendance for this game was 17,116 and I'd say 90% of them showed up.
At this game, the fans boo'd the visiting team during their introduction and the announcer reduced his voice volume as their introductions were made. The video scoreboard shot of the visiting team introduction was about 1/16th size. One couldn't see, hear, or read any of the visiting team's introductions. Cleverly done.
Other things to be aware of - the shout outs of De-fense! And, "Hey #44 - Get-In-The-Box," the fans yell, stand up and point at an opposing team's player as he walks toward the box when getting a penalty.
The fans are loud! Especially the last two minutes of the game when all fans stand and applaud the players (this game I attended, the winning goal was scored in less than the last two minutes so the crowd was electrified).
My recommendation for a Mammoth game (and any event/game at the Pepsi Center) is to take the Light Rail.
Another recommendation is to use the East entrance vs the Grand Atrium to enter the Pepsi Center to avoid the mob - you won't feel like you're being trampled on or getting crushed going up an escalator. The one area that always scares me when attending an event at the Pepsi Center is the escalators and the people movement (or lack of) in the Grand Atrium. It's a disaster that's bound to happen.
My recommendation is to hang out after the game and don't leave right after the winning goal. 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. There's an interview with a player after the game. Wait the 15 or 20 minutes for the crowd to disperse. Then head out of the arena.
At this game, because some of the concession stands were closed on the third level, during half time the concourse was mobbed around the one concession stand that was open. This may be one of the few times I recommend leaving a few minutes early (before half time) to head to the restroom.
Leg room was fine; arm space wasn't - maybe I'm just getting too fat.
There were plenty of bathrooms that were mediocre/operational, though there was still a wait for the ladies room during halftime and after the game.
Tickets range from $5 - $45. A free game day program is offered to every fan as they enter the arena. You can't go wrong with $5 to see a game at the Pepsi Center. The Mammoth also offer promotions such as Guys Night Out and Party Packs. Check their website for those special deals. You can get club level seats (center court, facing the bench) for $38. I did a comparison. Those exact same seats are $138 for an Avs or Nuggets game.
The one downfall is the food and drinks are way overpriced.
• To those 'Conversion crews' who convert a basketball court on a Friday evening to a hockey arena for the following Saturday afternoon, to a lacrosse venue that same Saturday evening, then back again for a Sunday evening basketball game.
• One can take a tour of the Pepsi Center, which I highly recommend.
• For being able to take in a double header. I was able to see the Avs and the Mammoth at the Pepsi Center the same day.
I've tried to attend a Mammoth game once a year since I've lived in Colorado. This game was the best time I've ever had at one of those games: good game, exciting win, full house, nice neighbors, cow bells. It demonstrates the Mammoth organization is always continuing to improve the game day experience for its fans. Will I go next year? Absolutely.
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.
901 Auraria Pkwy
Denver, Co 80204
1055 Auraria Pkwy
Denver, Co 80204
1000 Chopper Circle
Denver, Co 80204
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