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Official Review by Ryan Napralla, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
In 1994, head coach Dick Bennett and his son Tony led the UW-Green Bay Phoenix in an upset of Jason Kidd and the 5th-seeded California Golden Bears in the first round of the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament. Any Phoenix fan will tell you that this victory was UW-Green Bay’s “One Shining Moment.” At that time, the Phoenix played in the 5,000-seat Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena. By 2002, the Brown County Arena was severely outdated. Enter the Resch Center next door, a 10,000-seat, multi-purpose facility that UWGB has called home for over 13 years.
Dick Bennett is a coaching legend in Wisconsin, Tony Bennett’s #25 is the only retired number in Phoenix history, and Green Bay basketball continues its struggle to rise up to a position of significance in a football-crazed town.
The Resch Center sits approximately nine miles from the UW-Green Bay campus, which appears to affect student attendance, as Green Bay lacks efficient public transportation to get young fans to and from campus. Couple that with a young, 45-year program history (only 32 of which have been at the Division I level), and the Phoenix provide a solid basketball experience that currently lacks a big time college atmosphere.
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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".
One of the benefits of UW-Green Bay playing basketball off campus at the Resch Center is that a fan can enjoy a beer (or multiple beers) during the game. The Resch Center offers a modest choice of draft beers at its concession stands, but a "Bud Light Night" makes 24-ounce $2.00 Bud Lights the most popular choice among fans. Soft drinks are provided by 7-Up, RC Cola, Dr. Pepper, and Sun Drop and can be purchased in bottles or from the fountain.
The food menu at the Resch Center is not spectacular. If you're in town for the game, plan to take advantage of one of the numerous establishments that surround the Resch Center and Lambeau Field. Relying on what the Resch Center provides (pizza, brats, pretzels, and hot dogs) may leave you unsatisfied. DiGiorno personal pizzas are the signature items and will set you back $7.00.
Likely the best atmosphere in the Phoenix season will be a match-up against Wisconsin, Marquette, or UW. Games against conference rivals from the Horizon League are also typically well attended. For marquee games, expect nearly 5,000 to turn out. For weekend games with an 8:00PM tip-off and a promotion like "Bud Light Night,", locals are encouraged to get out and support their team.
The UWGB basketball game has a minor league feel to it. Home games often come along with advertised giveaways such as winter hats, sunglasses, youth jerseys, and trading cards. In addition, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay offers Festival Foods Family Games on a limited schedule where tickets are discounted, parking is free, and sodas and hot dogs are only $1.00.
Breaks in the action are typically filled with promotional dance-offs, full court dashes to collect pizza boxes, and slinging rubber chickens into shopping carts. The ability to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two at the off-campus Resch Center is a nice perk and even on "Bud Light Night," Phoenix fans appear to enjoy themselves responsibly.
Even when the Phoenix host a season-high crowd, the Resch Center sits half full and often sits three-quarters empty, as the official capacity for basketball is listed as 9,729. The student section and the band are deserving of a lot of credit as a spirited group, but even their section will look half full. A few Phoenix alums confided that it's difficult for students to get to the game, especially since shuttle services from campus were discontinued a few years ago.
The Resch Center was obviously built for hockey. As a result, Sections 201, 202, and 203 keep you the furthest distance from the action despite providing the most affordable experience ($11.00 per ticket). $20.00 will provide the best viewing experience in Sections 207-210 and 220-223, alongside the court. The Resch Center website provides a helpful seating chart to illustrate premier seating locations.
The Resch Center literally sits in the shadow of Lambeau Field and is in the heart of the Stadium District in Green Bay. Consequently, there is no shortage of pre or postgame options for food and spirits. The D2 Sports Pub (attached to the Midway Best Western Hotel) is the closest establishment (maybe 20 feet) to the Resch Center. Other staples of the Stadium District within walking distance include The Stadium View Bar & Grille, Anduzzi's Sports Club, The Bar, The Green Bay Distillery, Burkel's One Block Over, and Badger State Brewing.
Parking is abundant and the fee to do so is minimal, as the Lambeau Field parking lot serves as the official lot for the Resch and charges only $5.00. If interested in saving a few bucks, seek out the bars and restaurants around the Resch Center that offer free parking.
Phoenix fans are knowledgeable and know when to get loud. During a well attended back-and-forth game against a conference rival, expect the Resch Center to get plenty loud during key defensive moments. UWGB alums, casual basketball fans, and families enjoying an affordable night out are typically well represented. Students can be hit or miss, especially during the winter break when class is not in session. Regardless of when the game is played, UWGB needs to figure out a way to get more of its student body involved in order for Phoenix games to have that true college basketball atmosphere.
5,000 basketball fans descending upon the Resch Center compared to 70,000 Packers fans flocking to Lambeau Field are night and day comparisons. Parking near the Resch Center is abundant. The Lambeau Field parking lot is the official lot for Resch Center events and the charge is minimal. Parking at nearby establishments is free; they only hope that you'll stop in for a beer and burger before or after the game.
Fans enter the Resch Center through a lobby on the south side of the arena. Many people purchase tickets on site, which can overcrowd the lobby in a hurry. If you wish to avoid any crowds, purchase tickets ahead of time and head either left or right through the gates upon your arrival. Fans can access their 100 level courtside seats via the arena floor tunnels but most spectators head up a flight of stairs to the main concourse and 200 level sections.
The second floor concourse provides adequate space, concession stands, and restrooms. The north end of the concourse is typically not accessible, as Sections 212 through 218 tend to be closed off for basketball games.
For local Northeast Wisconsin sports fans, a Green Bay Phoenix basketball game is a solid entertainment choice. The program has been near the top of the Horizon League standings in recent years and the product appeals to all demographics.
In the world of mid-major college basketball, UW-Green Bay suffers from not being a destination for many Wisconsin college basketball fans. The Wisconsin Badgers have the state's attention and affection during most winters, but anyone willing to make the trek to Titletown will have a positive experience. If specifically planning a trip to the Resch Center, look for Wisconsin, Marquette, and/or UW-Milwaukee on the schedule, as these opponents draw the largest crowds.
If UW-Green Bay basketball brings you in town for a weekend, it might be worth looking into a women's basketball game at the on-campus Kress Events Center. Over the past five years, UWGB women's basketball has the third highest winning percentage in the NCAA. The women play at the 4,018-seat Kress Events Center, which is a seven year-old venue in the middle of the campus. The women average 2,000 fans a game, which fits better in the more intimate Kress Center.
Considering its proximity to the Resch Center, Lambeau Field and everything that it offers (food, tours, shopping) is also a great way to spend a day prior to an evening Phoenix tip-off.
Member Review by mtrebby123 on Dec 27, 2012
The Resch Center is home to four different teams, three of which are semi-professional (two are arena football and the other hockey). The list includes the Gamblers of the USHL, Blizzard of the IFL, and Chill of the LFL.
Its collegiate basketball team, the UW-Green Bay Phoenix, draws more fans than those other three, and also are probably the most consistently followed and supported team.
Opened in 2002, the Resch has always been home to the Phoenix. It holds 9,729 fans for basketball, and unfortunately attendance rarely gets up toward that number.
But, it’s tough to consistently support a Horizon League program unless you have some affiliation to the school or are just looking for a team to root for. During my most recent visit in Dec 2012, the opponent was Marquette, and the arena had one of its louder nights. I talked with some regulars, though, and that was a rare night. It’s a nice place to watch a game, but will not be blowing anyone away.
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