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Official Review by Rich Kurtzman, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Pepsi Center is a magnificent arena that makes any Mile High City resident proud.
Located in the heart of downtown Denver, Colorado, Pepsi Center is a state-of-the art facility and the home of not only the Colorado Avalanche but the NBA's Denver Nuggets and NLL's Colorado Mammoth.
Opened in 1999, the Pepsi Center doesn't seem to have aged at all, as its modern design of smooth curves juxtaposed with a sharp angles jutting away from the main structure create the great atrium. The glass facades invite any and all passersby to peek inside of the Pepsi Center and they show off the interesting interior of the arena.
Pepsi Center is one of a few shining stars of Denver's downtown, and its location in the center of the city places "The Can" within walking distance of up-scale shopping and dining in the 16th Street Mall, hundreds of bars and restaurants in LoDo, next door to Six Flags at Elitch Gardens and near the convention center and performing arts complex.
And Pepsi Center even has shopping and restaurants within its walls, in Altitude Authentics - where fans can purchase official team-related merchandise - and three restaurants in Blue Sky Grill, The Denver Post Newsroom and The Ridgeline.
Make sure to check out the Pepsi Center website for all the need-to-know information on the world class arena.
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 has much more to offer than Pepsi products and the overall selection of food and drink is seemingly endless.
Unlike many stadiums that have cookie cutter concession stands, a multitude of different food artisans are sprinkled around the perimeter of both concourses.
There's Bar-B-Que, fresh-made paninis, buffalo burgers, carved sandwiches, fajitas and more traditional hot dogs, fries, nachos and so much more.
On this night, I ate at Big Stack BBQ, which featured a beef brisket or pulled pork sandwich on Texas toast with fries or sweet potato fries, which I got. The meal was $10.50, but it was well worth it, as it tasted great and the portions were enough to fill up the hungriest sports fan.
Sweets include candy, ice cream, funnel cakes and, of course, Pepsi products.
Besides soda, there are a bevy of adult beverages to drink including Coors, Budweiser, Blue Moon and other beers, and hard alcohol cocktail stands as well. Domestic beers ($6.75) can be found at any place food is sold, and the soft drink of choice is, of course, Pepsi ($4.75). Also, Jack Daniels mixed drink stands are on every level and their bartenders make a variety of potent potables if beer is not your taste.
Plus, Blue Sky Grill offers both fine dining and a wide wine list, and some reasonably priced sandwiches, soups and salads as well.
The atmosphere is fun, rowdy and loud. That is, when the stadium is full.
At times, the atmosphere is somewhat laid-back and fun-loving, and there are many more adults than families, although the Pepsi Center is certainly family-friendly.
Still, no matter how full the arena is, it's always loud when the Avalanche score and the fans go crazy when they play electronic music.
They play much more rock and electronic, along with much more organ, than they do during Nuggets games, and it fits their audience well. The Pepsi Center is all about taking care of their fans, The ushers greet you at every entrance and are there to answer any questions you may have.
LoDo, or Lower Downtown, is the most happening neighborhood in the Centennial State.
There are literally hundreds of bars and restaurants within a short walking distance of the arena, meaning eating and drinking before or after games is quick and easy to do. Urbanspoon has a decent rating system and their list of reviewed restaurants is extensive.
Brooklyn's is an upscale feeling sports bar with good, if not great food. The restaurant's front door is literally within 100 feet of Pepsi Center and it makes for a great place to pre or postgame party, making it a fan-favorite. They boast 10 HD plasma TVs, which make watching the game there almost as fun as in the venue, plus 15 beers on tap and 15 in bottle. Burgers run under $10, can be buffalo, chicken, beef or veggie, and they are delicious.
Plus, there's shopping and other entertainment in abundance (dance clubs, bowling, a theme park, aquarium, performing arts center, etc.) all around, making Pepsi Center's neighborhood tough to beat.
Avalanche fans certainly are loud and proud, you can tell by how many have filled the stands over the years. In fact, the Avalanche hold the NHL record for most consecutive sellout crowds with 487 straight, which amazingly spanned from their first season in Denver, 1995, through 2006.
Avs fans are knowledgeable on the sport of hockey and love cheering their team to victory, and nearly everyone that attends games wears a jersey of some sort. If you attend an Avalanche game, make sure to take a look at fans' jerseys, as you'll see an assortment of old and new and some of the players' names will take you back in time to the Stanley Cup winning teams 10 and 15 years ago.
Lately though, as the Avalanche are rebuilding, some games have bunches of empty seats, which is why the fans don't get a perfect score.
Pepsi Center's location, just off I-25, makes it easily accessible from anywhere in the city. Patrons can also drive to The Can on Speer, which runs right by the building, or they can take the RTD Light Rail for a few dollars, which drops fans off a couple hundred feet from the main entrance.
There are lots and lots of bathrooms throughout the arena, meaning finding one nearby your seat is easy and lines are usually not long.
Parking in the stadium's surrounding lots can be somewhat expensive at $10-$15, although much cheaper parking can be found only a few blocks from the stadium, even on the weekends, in LoDo.
Avalanche tickets are among the most expensive in Denver sports, which drives the return on investment down a bit.
Still, cheaper seats can be found in the nosebleed sections (where your Rocky Mountain Regional Correspondent often takes in the action from) and there's not a bad seat in the house.
Although, if you can ever sit down low at an Avalanche game, it's one of the most exciting experiences you can have in sports. The massive men crash into the boards, meaning you can see and hear the emotion of the game only feet in front of you.
Ushers are everywhere and are welcome to help you with anything you may need and the amenities are almost endless, meaning fans young and old alike will have a great time.
The Pepsi Center (PC) opened its doors in 1999, four years after the Colorado Avalanche moved to Denver. PC is now the home of the NHL Colorado Avalanche, NBA Denver Nuggets, and the NLL Colorado Mammoth. Other than sporting events, this 18,007 (hockey) capacity arena has hosted the Democratic National Convention, concerts, ice and family shows. It has hosted several Stanley Cup playoff games including a game 7 Stanley Cup Championship that the Avalanche won in 2001.
Located right off the highway in downtown Denver, the Pepsi Center is in an ideal location. With easy access via car, light rail, or bus it is in close proximity to most everything. Within a short walk you can make your way to many restaurants and bars for pre & post game activities. Whatever your taste buds might be in the mood for, you're sure to find it within a couple miles of the arena.
Member Review by ragnar81 on Apr 28, 2013
But not terrible either. The best thing is the location and proximity to great pre and post game establishments. Easy access and an OK atmosphere (as long as the Avs are winning or in the game.) Previous comments on the PA system are spot on, hard to understand much of the time. Decent concessions at above average prices, but the 16th Street mall is a must, especially after early games or prior to later games. All in all, a fun experience.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on Jan 22, 2014
The Pepsi Center is a nice venue, but the recent struggles of the team seem to hurt attendance and there wasn't much intensity at the game I attended, helped by a poor performance on the ice. Generally agree with the official review here otherwise. Make sure to check out ticket specials as some deals can be had.