Denver's Pepsi Center continues to serve as a first-class home court for the NBA's Denver Nuggets. The arena holds 19,155 fans and hosts an improving product. The 2016-17 season has seen a resurgent Nuggets team competing for playoff contention in a home that provides a fun, engaging environment for fans. Pepsi Center also has the benefit of being situated near some of Denver's best neighborhoods, notably Lower Downtown ("LoDo") and the Highlands. Fans enjoy several transportation options for attending games, as well, helping to make the overall Nuggets experience a very good one.
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".
Pepsi Center offers a good variety of concessions with quick lines and good service. Fans can pay using cash, credit, or tickets with food and beverage credit that the team sells as part of promotional sales.
With more than 45 concession stands, Pepsi Center has food for everyone and the quality is good. There are also four restaurants throughout the arena. One of them, the 325-seat Breckenridge Brewery Mountain House, was inspired by Q Creek Ranch in Wyoming, a working cattle ranch 150 miles north of Denver. The restaurant has Breckenridge Beer on tap and a menu that includes buffalo red chili, salads, and burgers. But the restaurant's best feature might be its decor. The ceilings are built from reclaimed snow fencing from Wyoming's plains. Additionally, salvaged, fallen timber from Yellowstone National Park wildfires has been re-purposed into the restaurant's walls and support beams. Floors include wood that the arena rescued from turn-of-the-century barns. Notably, fans can reserve tables online via the Pepsi Center's website.
Traditional fare (hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken strips) is also available, as Pepsi Center also offers a broad range of food. Fans can purchase a chicken caesar salad ($7.25) or a Mediterranean quinoa salad ($8). Baked potatoes, Italian ices, and smoothies are among Pepsi Center's other offerings.
Given the venue's name, it should come as no surprise that Pepsi products are the only sodas available, both in bottles and at the fountain. A full bar meets fans on the Pepsi Center's first level. Coors and Breckenridge beers are sold throughout Pepsi Center.
A visit to the Breckenridge Brewery is certainly worth a visit, if only to appreciate the decor. Fans will not be disappointed with the concessions inside Pepsi Center, either. The food and drink options are what fans should expect. The quality of food is good and priced as one would expect at an NBA arena.
Pepsi Center feels like an NBA arena should. Lines of sight are good, as are acoustics. Pepsi Center's primary video board has exceptional resolution and the team's DJ provides an entertaining soundtrack to the action.
Installed before the start of the Nuggets' 2013-14 season, the Pepsi Center's main video board is nothing short of exceptional -- both in terms of size and resolution. This video board hangs over the court and includes the scoreboard, in-game statistics, and video of the action below. It measures 27 feet high by 48 feet long, parallel to the court below.
Fans sitting at either end of Pepsi Center are not forgotten; the board's sides have video screens measuring 21 feet in height and 25 feet in width. The picture quality -- 800 times better than Pepsi Center's prior scoreboard -- is spectacular. Fans sitting in seats in the middle of Pepsi Center (i.e. between the tops of the keys) enjoy a high-definition, 1080p picture. The arena's sound system was also upgraded before the start of the 2013-14 season, making for a first-rate audio-visual experience that complements the action on the floor.
Not only does DJ Bedz run the Pepsi Center's turntables, the Nuggets also have their own drumline. The team's mascot, Rocky, is a crowd favorite. He attempts backwards, half-court shots during timeouts to win prizes for fans.
The best seats are in Pepsi Center's mid-section. Fans in these seats have the best view of the game and of the video board. Seats in the end zones tend to be farther from the action, particularly in the 300 level.
Pepsi Center is situated within walking or biking distance of two of Denver's most popular neighborhoods, Lower Downtown ("LoDo") and the Highlands. Fans can plan a night out around a Nuggets game, with numerous bars and restaurants nearby. This enhances the experience of seeing a game at the Pepsi Center.
Dining possibilities near Pepsi Center are vast. Brooklyn's sits just across the street from Pepsi Center's ticket office, providing a good option for fans wanting to meet pre or postgame. Bars and restaurants teem in both LoDo and the Highlands.
Denver's recently renovated Union Station, just a short walk north from Pepsi Center, has craft cocktails and quality burgers, salads, and sandwiches. In the Highlands neighborhood to the west of Pepsi Center, Fire on the Mountain offers some of Denver's best chicken wings along with a full bar and extensive, rotating beers on tap.
Pepsi Center sits along the banks of the South Platte River. Those with an adventurous streak can rent kayaks just a short walk away, at Confluence Kayaks, and run the rapids in the arena's shadow. Pepsi Center also neighbors Elitch Gardens, Denver's only amusement park. Fans can park at Pepsi Center and walk next door for roller coasters and a wave pool.
The Crawford Hotel at Union Station opened in 2014 to glowing reviews. The rooms are designed to replicate the experience of traveling in a luxury sleeper car, apropos of the hotel's placement in a working, 123 year-old train station. For those looking for a closer place to stay, a SpringHill Suites sits just across Auraria Parkway from Pepsi Center.
Over the past few years, the Nuggets have lacked a superstar player and on-court success. That has begun to change with the emergence of center Nikola Jokic and competition for a playoff spot in the NBA's Western Conference. Fans have begun to come to Pepsi Center in response.
While not always at capacity, the Nuggets have a passionate core of fans. Games with rivals and the top teams in the league (think Cleveland, Golden State) draw well.
Fans at Nuggets games know both their team and the NBA. They are intelligent and tend to get loud. DJ Bedz helps set a fun and rowdy mood.
There are several options, in addition to driving, for fans attending a game at Pepsi Center. This makes Pepsi Center one of the most accessible venues in the NBA and removes the frustration of traffic and parking. Although Pepsi Center has plenty of parking, there are several fun ways to get to a game that do not involve a car.
A light rail station adjoins the arena, serving other parts of downtown and the city's south suburbs. A public bike share station sits just to Pepsi Center's south. And Pepsi Center has four bike racks situated around the venue; fans can walk or ride to a game on paved trails along both the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. Pepsi Center also has a dedicated area just outside the Grand Atrium for Lyft and Uber passengers.
There is plenty of parking on the Pepsi Center grounds. Parking in those lots starts at $15, with valet parking also available.
The most impressive way to enter Pepsi Center is through the Grand Atrium, located on the arena's southwest side. A large sculpture depicting basketball and hockey players weighs 2,000 pounds and is suspended from the ceiling. Fans must pass through metal detectors once inside, which can cause lines to form. But arena staff are friendly and help lines move quickly. The Nuggets use a proprietary ticketing platform (FlashSeats) with an app, making ticketing easy.
Traffic inside Pepsi Center flows well. Although fans cannot see the action while on the concourses, there is no shortage of television screens. Restrooms are plentiful and clean. There are several elevators and escalators to take fans up and down Pepsi Center's five levels.
Seeing any NBA game in person tends to be a costly experience. That being said, the Nuggets have several options that make the experience much more reasonable.
Fans can enjoy a Nuggets game with as little or as much extravagance as they prefer. Tickets range from $15 to $1,500 (for courtside seats). Hot dogs ($5.25), fries ($4.50), and bottomless popcorn ($8.25) are all options for those wanting to eat on a relative budget.
The Nuggets have launched a new program called the Buzzer Beater Pass. Fans who register for a text alert can receive last-minute offers for $15 Nuggets tickets 24-hours before tip-off. The Nuggets also offer family nights (4 tickets for $80, with each ticket having $15 in food and beverage credit) and "Junior Jam Nights," where kids receive a free ticket with the purchase of a full-price, adult ticket.
Several extras make Pepsi Center a great place to see an NBA game. Fans can acquaint themselves with the history not just of Pepsi Center, but also of the teams that call it home, on the plaza outside the Grand Atrium. Several boards set forth the Nuggets All-Stars, key wins, and history. Additionally, a statue of the mascot, Rocky, welcomes fans as they approach the Grand Atrium. Once inside, "Pepsi Point" (located between the second and third levels) provides fans with the opportunity to pose for photos behind the replicated torso of a Nuggets player.
Pepsi Center is a great venue not only for Nuggets die-hards, but also for fans wanting to see their first NBA game. Pepsi Center honors the Nuggets' history while also providing a great experience through the arena's audio-visual features. Given its proximity to Denver's great night life, NBA fans are wise to plan a visit to Pepsi Center.
As the Pepsi Center moves into its second decade of use in 2011, the arena remains state-of-the-art both inside and out. Located in the heart of Denver, Pepsi is definitely the center of attention on many Colorado nights and the stunning multi-use arena is befitting the beautiful capital of the Centennial State. It is home of the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, the NLL's Colorado Mammoth, and it regularly hosts the world's biggest musical performers when they come to town.
The Pepsi Center catches the fan and any architecture lover's eye right away. It combines soft curves and an overall elliptical shape, contrasting them with sharp triangle-like protrusions that are made up of hundreds of windows - creating awesome glass facades, giving everyone a "wow" sensation when it is admired from close or afar.
The many doors at the main entrance of the Pepsi Center and the plentiful number of ushers eager to help in any way possible makes going into the building a breeze. After entering into the grand atrium, the "Altitude Authentics" team store invites visitors and is seemingly always packed. Fans can find all the latest gear for both the Nuggets and Avalanche and the store offers all the hats, jerseys and other memorabilia that can't be found anywhere else.
As you travel up the great escalators in the huge entrance of the Pepsi Center, you notice a massive and visually interesting hanging statue, half made up of hockey players, half basketballers.
Once on the first, second or third level, food and drink stands and bathrooms are abundant while their lines are usually nonexistent. When it comes to watching a game, there's literally not a bad seat in the house as the Pepsi Center is a marvelous place to catch a competitive contest.
Pepsi, or "The Can", has been arguably the top sporting venue in the Mile High City since it opened in 2001. What makes it great? A few things. First and foremost is the fan experience. Ushers are wonderful. Lines move quickly into the stadium and the great atrium is certainly inviting. Lately, the Pepsi was upgraded with four gigantic screens hanging over the hardwood/ice. Owners had to make the tough call of choosing only basketball and hockey (the screens hang too low for indoor football, which was played there in the past), but the choice was an intelligent one. Pepsi is wonderful through and through and has barely shown its age.
Great location, good fans, easy to get to on transit, tickets affordable, if only the team could meet expectations, this would be one of the best venues in the NBA.
The Pepsi Center is a multiuse facility that hosts the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and the Colorado Mammoth NLL (lacrosse) team as well as numerous concerts and shows throughout the year. The Pepsi Center opened in 1999 and remains a state of the art venue 16 years later. It has three levels of seats and two suite levels. The Pepsi Center catches the fan and any architecture lover's eye right away. It combines soft curves and an overall elliptical shape, contrasting them with sharp triangle-like protrusions that are made up of hundreds of windows - creating awesome glass facades, giving everyone a "wow" sensation when it is admired from close or afar.
The Denver Nuggets have played at the Pepsi Center since 1999 but have a long history with the ABA and NBA. The Nuggets began play in 1967 in the now defunct ABA under the name “Aurora Larks.” After one season, they changed their name to the Denver Rockets until 1974. Just imagine if that name had stuck today. The Rockets had modest ABA success with multiple playoff seasons but early exits each year. Under the new Nuggets name, they made the ABA finals in 1976 before losing to Julius Erving and the New York Nets.
NBA success for the Nuggets has been varied. There have been some periods where the Nuggets make the playoffs multiple years in a row as well as years of continued struggles. The Nuggets have made three western conference finals and lost all three. The franchise record for wins in a season is 57 during the 2012-2013 season but that year ended like so many other Nuggets playoff runs; a first round loss.
Originally founded as the Denver Rockets of the ABA in 1967, the Nuggets joined the NBA along with the Pacers, Nets and Spurs. The team had many different owners before being bought, along with the NHL's Avalanche, by Stan Kroenke in 2000.
After a long run of success as a member of the ABA, the Nuggets experienced long droughts of excellence throughout the 80's and 90's. The 2003 Draft brought Carmelo Anthony to town, leading to a long run of playoff appearances. Ever since Anthony was traded to the New York Knicks in 2011, the Nuggets have had fleeting success with 3 coaches in 5 years.
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 17 years old, still feels brand new. Official seating capacity for basketball games in the arena is 19,155.
The Pepsi Center is a fairly modern, well-designed building. The concourses are wide and fairly easy to navigate. Seating has been updated in the last couple of years and is more comfortable. The fans are not die-hard and many come to just hang out, ignoring the game. Parking can be had in certain places for under $10. If the weather is bad, get ready for the walk.
The overall atmosphere currently (2015,2016) is very poor. Fans just aren't showing up and the team has been bad. When this new generation of players has matured and the Nuggets return to the playoffs, I expect the Pepsi Center to return to being "The Can" and the sound level and atmosphere will become what it once was in the 2012 season for the ages.
1919 Blake St
Denver, CO 80202
901 Auraria Parkway
Denver, CO 80204
1701 Wynkoop St
Denver, CO 80202
2373 15th St
Denver, CO 80202
1190 Auraria Pkwy
Denver, CO 80204