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Official Review by Paul Donaldson, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
LSU Gymnastics has a storied tradition at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC). The PMAC was originally constructed in 1972 and currently serves as host to both LSU men’s and women’s basketball as well as the gymnastics team.
The gymnastics experience can often be dwarfed by the attention garnered by other LSU sports. However, a trip to the PMAC for an SEC level gymnastics competition is great family entertainment with an olympic flare. While the attention may be less, the experience by no means is. Fans show up in droves and the production of the competition is top notch. Home competitions typically take place on Friday nights around 7pm.
If you’re a die-hard LSU fan, have little ones in gymnastics, or are looking for a more unique sports experience for family entertainment purposes, consider an affordable ticket for an LSU Tigers Gymnastics competition at the PMAC in Baton Rouge.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The PMAC provides a good variety of options with a few tasty signature items.
Your staple stadium fare is available including hot dogs at $3.50 and nachos at $4.50 (nachos grande: $7.50). "Bottomless Popcorn" is available for $8, plus a "kid's' serving at $3. You can also get a Manda Sausage Poboy (the term 'poboy' here is used very loosely) for $6 and a Tiger Burger ($6 - tiger meat not included).
The Kid's Meal is a great deal at $6 and includes a hot dog, small popcorn and a 16 ounce drink in a carry tray.
For more variety, check out some of the specialty stands around the concourse. Bayou Cafe offers a Ditka Dog (spicy beef Polish sausage with sauteed onions), a chili-cheese dog, chicken & sausage jambalaya, and also crawfish or meat pies. Taco Churros serves up both brisket nachos and Cochon de Lait Nachos.
Soda options are headlined by Coca-Cola products. A 32-ounce soda is available in a souvenir cup for $5.50 while a 22-ounce soda comes in at $4. A kid's drink runs $3 (16-ounce). Bottled Dasani water is $5.50 for a liter and $3 for a half liter. Alcoholic beverages are not sold at the PMAC.
The overall atmosphere for LSU gymnastics competition is entertaining and action packed.
The gymnastics experience inside the PMAC is a top-notch production. From an excellent team entrance video, to pyrotechnics during athlete introductions, the pre-match fanfare will certainly grab your attention. The competition floor is laid out nicely, allowing fans to focus attention on whichever event is going on at the time. With multiple stations in action at the same time, this can be a challenge at other venues.
The energy level is high throughout the event. With a strong showing by the student section and both the LSU cheer squad and pep-band on hand, you definitely have the college feel you'd expect at a collegiate competition. The promotions team comes through with entertainment on the center-hung video board (from dance cams to kiss cams) and also by throwing t-shirts into the stands on occasion.
While there is plenty to be excited about, in terms of atmosphere, the PMAC is an aging structure (though it has held together well aesthetically speaking). A few upgrades are needed to keep pace in the college athletics facility arms race. For one, the center-hung video scoreboard is acceptable, but pales in comparison to many new facilities across the nation. The lighting inside the arena is similar to what you'd expect in a theatre; very dark with a strongly lit floor. It would be nice to have a little more light throughout the seating areas. Also, while other facilities are bolstering their wi-fi and charging station access, the PMAC could use some work in becoming more smartphone friendly.
The PMAC is located on the campus of Louisiana State University on the south side of Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is a growing city and the capital of Louisiana. Much of that growth can be seen near the downtown area and the surrounding suburbs. The LSU campus is like a small city on its own. It's a beautiful area that provides a great backdrop for Tiger gymnastics. There's a good assortment of entertainment options in the immediate area, and more within a reasonable drive around the city.
Within walking distance from the PMAC is a popular area known as North Gates. You'll find a few recommended restaurants in this area, including The Chimes. Known for their cajun style dishes and collegiate atmosphere, this is one of those "must-stop" restaurants while in town. Fans of the Raising Canes restaurant can rejoice at the birthplace of the franchise, known as the Mothership, at 3313 Highland Road. Louie's is a North Gate staple and offers a good breakfast or late night snack (they're open 24/7). Highland Coffees is a nice local coffee shop.
Across from the PMAC is the multi-million dollar home of LSU's live mascot, the Mike the Tiger Habitat and also LSU's Tiger Stadium. This is a great area for photo opportunities. The Varsity is located in North Gates and is one of the most popular college bars in the area (check their website for live music schedules). Slinky's is another good college town bar.
Baton Rouge offers plenty of quality lodging options. For a comfortable stay on campus, consider booking a room at the Cook Hotel and Conference Center which is run by the LSU Alumni Association.
Attendance is on an upswing for LSU gymnastics and continues to climb. From an average crowd of about 3,000 in 2010, crowds now typically range around 8,000, with multiple eclipses of the 10,000 mark in 2016. This has LSU around the top five nationally in attendance each year.
LSU fans are passionate. Whether it's Tiger football on a Saturday night or the balance beam on Friday nights, LSU faithful get on their feet and make their presence known. The student section regularly fills their reserved area in the lower bowl and several students will come dressed up or with body paint.
Depending on the size of the crowd, access in and around the PMAC can be a mixed bag.
For large crowds, you may find it difficult to navigate the concourse as the lines extend back into the walkway, clogging up your pathway. Restrooms can back up as well, especially for the lady's room considering the crowd will be largely female.
Getting to the PMAC, however, isn't much of a challenge. The LSU campus is located just off I-10. This stretch of interstate can certainly clog during rush hour, though it is typically cleared out for Friday evening matches. Once you've made it on campus, plenty of free parking is available within walking distance. Be sure to review the parking map below before heading out to the PMAC.
If you need to pick up tickets from will call, you'll want to take the breeze-way up to the concourse level on the southwest side of the facility. Lines are short, and once you have your tickets you'll quickly make your way through the gate.
Comparatively speaking, tickets prices are extremely low considering the value on your return. Reserved seats in the lower bowl are $8, while general admission in the upper level runs only $5. Kids aged 3-12 can get admission for only $3. Concession prices are a bit on the high side, but are somewhat off-set by free parking available on campus and a free program.
Overall, the low cost and high return on investment is a highlight of the experience.
The LSU gymnastics experience offers a few "extra" components which help to enhance the overall experience.
-Walk through the concourse with an eye out for several gymnastics related murals. You'll spot a painting which honors the 2002 gymnastics legends, accomplishments and coach DD Breaux. There is also a quadrant of the concourse coined the "Walk of Champions" which features gymnastics pictures and displays.
-Above the competition floor, you'll notice several banners hanging from the rafters which honor numerous Super Six appearances as well as other accomplishments.
- Be sure to stop by the Mike the Tiger Habitat just outside the PMAC to see LSU's live tiger mascot.
- Match programs are free in the concourse by each seating area entrance. Fans can purchase LSU gear at the apparel shop inside the concourse.
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3357 Highland Rd
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
3313 Highland Rd
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
3350 Highland Rd
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
3353 Highland Rd
Baton Rouge, LA 70802