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Official Review by Paul Derrick, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
It has been called many names from "The House that Pete Built" to "The Deaf Dome" by Dick Vitale, but there is one thing that is the same and that is that the Pete Maravich Assembly Center is the home of the LSU Tigers and it can get pretty crazy. The LSU Tigers have called the Pete Maravich Center home since 1972.
The arena was originally called the LSU Assembly Center at its opening but was renamed to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in 1988 shortly after Pete's death. Pete never played in the arena but had always wanted LSU to build a larger arena for its basketball team which he felt was always in the shadow of the LSU Tigers football program. The Pete Maravich Center has the capacity to hold 13,215 fans which still only makes it the 7th largest arena in the SEC.
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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 Tigers have all the basics covered in concessions offering popcorn, candy, nachos as well as hamburgers and hot dogs and one specialty item; the sausage po boy. Coca-Cola products can be had in three different souvenir cup sizes (22 oz for $4, 32 oz for $4.50 and the 44 oz for $5). I would like to see more of a variety in the food options, but what they have are very reasonably priced and makes a trip to the Pete Maravich Center not only enjoyable but also affordable.
The atmosphere at Pete Maravich unfortunately wasn't what I was expecting. I was slightly disappointed since I knew the Pete Maravich Center was nicknamed the "Deaf Dome," so I was definitely expecting a somewhat hostile and rowdy crowd with an amazing student section. What I saw instead, when I got to Pete Maravich Center for an out of conference game, was a decent sized crowd with a dismal student section.
I will chalk this up to being at the wrong game at the wrong time. The crowd that was there did do what was expected in that they cheered for the team after big shots and after the Tigers went on a nice run. The arena is definitely a jewel though and the university does a great job in commemorating the teams and players of the past with championship banners hanging from the rafters and murals throughout the arena.
One nice plus I did see was the section of plaques for the LSU sports hall of fame. It's always great to see a university show its pride in past sports alumni. The seating at the Pete Maravich Center is great and there definitely isn't a bad seat in the house.
Baton Rouge is a perfect example of a great college town. The entire state of Louisiana bleeds purple and yellow, and on game day the fans of the Bayou Bengals are honed in on LSU sports. Yes, the state doesn't really get behind the basketball team like they do their football neighbors over at Tiger Stadium, but tons of the alumni and students still pack Pete Maravich Center on a typical game day.
The one restaurant that I recommend to every fan and person making their way through Baton Rouge is Brunet's Cajun Restaurant. Brunet's is everything you would want from a great Cajun restaurant. Their meals are not only greatly presented and taste good, but are reasonably priced. They are even open late on game days. There can be a crowd though so try to get there early.
If the bar scene is more your thing, then Baton Rouge is definitely your place as well. Just a couple of places that I recommend are Phil Brady's on Government Street, Boudreaux & Thibodeaux's on 3rd Street and Bogie's Bar on East Boyd. All these places have great drink specialties and are key drinking holes for Tigerland.
The fans for basketball are not nearly as rowdy and crazy as the ones you will see at Tiger Stadium, but they still come out and provide great attendance figures. I saw many fans, students and kids in LSU gear and face paint. They did a great job at cheering at key times for the Tigers. I was somewhat disappointed in the size of the student section for the game. Even though the students that were in attendance did a great job at chants and doing their fair share in keeping the opponents off key, there just wasn't enough to live up to the "Deaf Dome" moniker that has been given to the arena.
Getting to and from the Pete Maravich Center is an absolute breeze. I found free parking within a short distance to the arena. The concourses are all very wide and make for maneuvering around the arena to be very easy. The bathrooms are pretty up to date and plentiful and I never saw or experienced much of a line even during peak times.
Tickets for Tigers basketball at the Pete Maravich Center can be had for as little as $15 for adults and $5 for kids under 12. I think these are great prices for a trip to see SEC basketball. With free parking and reasonable food prices, you can easily come out of a trip to Pete Maravich Center with spending less than 50 bucks. I would recommend catching a game against another SEC foe as you will probably see the Tigers fans at their best then.
I give one extra point to free parking availability. Rarely can you find free parking nowadays so when I do find it available I always like to commend the university.
My second point is for the big Shaquille O'Neal statue out in front of the arena. Shaq was and still is a great staple to the university and its basketball team.
My third extra point goes to the university and the renaming of the arena to show their respect and appreciation to Pete Maravich. Pete was a one of a kind in his playing days and truly meant a lot to the university.
My last point is actually a bit of trivia for rock and roll fans around the world. Can any one name the band that was killed in a plane crash on their way to perform at the Pete Maravich Center?
Answer: Lynyrd Skynyrd
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3357 Highland Rd
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
135 S Flannery Rd
Baton Rouge, LA 70815
4848 Government St
Baton Rouge, LA 70806
214 3rd St
Baton Rouge, LA 70801
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