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Official Review by Ed Pelle, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Located about twenty minutes from Spokane Washington, Eastern Washington University is best known for its success in football winning the FCS Championship Game on January 7, 2011. Like many schools in the northwest, Eastern Washington University began its sports affiliation as a member of the NAIA. In 1983, the Eagles became a member of the NCAA and joined the Big Sky Conference in 1987. Reese Court at the Special Events Pavilion has hosted Men's Basketball at Eastern Washington University since 1975 and sits just to the southwest of the campus' signature neon red football field (Roos Field). With a capacity of 6,000, Eagles women's basketball and volleyball teams also use this venue.
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".
There is one small refreshment stand tucked into the corner of the arena. They offer very basic choices such as hot dog ($3), warm pretzel ($2), nachos ($6), small popcorn ($2), large popcorn ($5) and soda ($3).
With only one place to buy food, on a busy day the line here can back up and cause you to miss a significant part of the game.
Though it can hold the same amount of people as the nearby McCarthy Athletic Center on the campus of Gonzaga University the fans here are more subdued. With the recent success of the football team at Roos Field, the university has become more of a football school with large crowds and fans showing up early to tailgate. Given some more success, the Men's Basketball team could start to become the talk of the town again like they were in 2004 when they qualified for their only NCAA Tournament.
The entire town of Cheney, Washington more or less revolves around Eastern Washington University. Directly surrounding the campus is a small residential area that gives way to the one business district in town on 1st Street. Here you will find a few bars and restaurants.
The aptly named Eagles Pub is the place I'd recommend after a game. It's a sports themed bar with several beers on tap and plenty of televisions positioned around with various sports programming. The kitchen here is open late and specializes in making "the best burger in town" for $5.50. Other menu items include wings $6.75, onion rings $5.25, mozzarella sticks $6.75, and a Rueben sandwich for $7.35.
Directly across the street are two smaller bars called Goofy's and Wild Bill's Long Bar if you are looking for some drink specials. These bars tend to be packed with more of the co-eds from the university.
There are also some fast food options nearby on 1st Street like Loco Dogz which makes custom hot dogs.
The lower seating bowl on one side is generally reserved for season ticket holders who have access to an exclusive area of the arena below one basket during the game. The other side of the lower seating bowl is reserved for the student section. The student section attends Men's Basketball events fairly well. Both upper decks are for single game ticket holders. Fans here are passionate about their team but don't regularly sell out Reese Court like they do for football at Roos Field.
Being close to Spokane, Washington helps bring up the score as there is an airport nearby. To get in and out of Cheney you basically have to travel about four miles on a single lane road once you divert from Interstate 90.
Spokane Transit Authority runs bus service from Spokane to Cheney so mass transit is also an option.
This area of the country experiences very cold, wet winters so attempting to get to a basketball game here during winter months can present some problems. Plan accordingly.
All parking is free.
Tickets are inexpensive in this intimate setting. Only in the landscape of mid major basketball can you sit courtside watching the stars of tomorrow for pennies on the dollar. Tickets range from $10 to $15 and the concessions are reasonably priced.
I have included some pictures of the one of a kind red field nicknamed "the inferno" but they do not do it justice. You really need to see it with your own eyes to get the full effect. There are only three fields at the Division I level that are not green, the others being located at Central Arkansas and Boise State.
Below the upper deck positioned around the arena are various exhibits showcasing the school's history and hall of fame members. This was a nice, well done touch to the pavilion.
If you live in Washington and follow college basketball I'd highly recommend checking this venue out.
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