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Official Review by Dan Donnelly, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Event Center on the campus of San Jose State University was constructed in 1989. It sits in the heart of campus just off of the Mall. It seats 4,600 for sporting events and 5,000+ for concerts. The stadium has a feel of a much bigger venue due to the high ceiling and the seating on three sides with real seat backs.The San Jose State Spartans are part of the Mountain West Conference (MWC) after previously being a member of the Western Athletic Conference. One of San Jose's most famous recent alumni is Joey Chestnut, the world famous competitive eater. From the hardwood, Darnell Hillman, Ricky Berry and Oliver St Jean all made it to the NBA with some notoriety.
The Spartans have been to the NCAA tourney three times in the last 65 years. San Jose State is the oldest college on the West Coast having been established in 1857. There are 26,000+ undergraduate students and 6,000 graduate students. Although there is on campus housing, SJSU is considered a commuter school where campus life on weekends is sparse at best. The campus sits in downtown San Jose near many good restaurants and bars.
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 are two very nice concession stands on opposite corners of the west end of the arena. The food selection is decent, complete with the California friendly veggie burger. Prices are reasonable, service is adequate and the workers are friendly. Major credit cards are accepted.
The two stands offer identical menus. Lines were short during my most recent visit as the crowd was light. Aside from the veggie burger for $7, they offer ball tip and pulled pork sandwiches for $8.
The Event Center is a Pepsi venue. They do also serve an energy drink called Rockstar and coffee from Starbucks.There is no alcohol served for sporting events.
I would recommend just the regular beef hot dog and a Gatorade. Water at $3 is still too hard to swallow.
The game I attended was on a Saturday and SJSU is a commuter school with students disappearing for the weekend. The student section was occupied mostly by other SJSU sports teams that were not very vocal or engaged. There were youth groups and die hard local fans in attendance. The crowd was sparse and I would estimate 750 fans in total. However, I give the band and cheerleaders high marks for being very energized and entertaining throughout the game. If not for them, the arena would have been eerily quiet.
The arena has a bigger feel than the 4,600 seating capacity it has. With the high ceilings and seat backs in every seat it provides for a comfortable setting. All of the fans sit on the long sides of the court as the one area behind the west end basket is far back from the action and is probably only accessed for concerts. The east end is fitted with fold out bench style bleachers with about 10 rows. There are no suites and prices for seats range from $13 for general admission to $22 for reserved. There is a "Spartan Foundation Club" room that hosts its members throughout the game. They have a large, fantastic scoreboard in the east end and a smaller one on the west end. One item that is missing is a video screen on the scoreboard. In all four corners there is a hologram of a spartan helmet. On the floor itself is an artist's rendition of spartan warriors preparing for battle. The band mostly provides the music throughout the game.
Again high marks to the band and cheer squads as they keep the fans engaged throughout. The band razzes the opposing team at every chance. The cheer squad throws t-shirts and mini nerf balls into the crowd. They also drag kids out on to the court to do the popular dances the Whip and the Nae Nae. Halftime entertainment can include the bowl-winning football team being recognized at mid-court. or a half court shooting contest or a race by two contestants. The announcer is first rate.
Anywhere on either sideline will be a great seat. There are no obstructed views. The student section is on the northwest section of the arena. To see the logo correctly, you will want to sit on the south sideline.
The Event Center sits in the heart of the campus which is in downtown San Jose. San Jose is thriving with corporate life as it is the pulse of the Silicon Valley. There are a variety of ethnic restaurants and traditional ones along with many bars within steps of campus. The campus itself is a collection of new buildings combined with many that have a 60's architecture style mixed in with several Spanish adobe structures. The campus itself seems to be more safe than the immediate area surrounding it. On campus housing has been increased in recent years to accommodate 3,500 students.
Smoke Eaters known for their spicy chicken wings and Iguanas famous for monster sized burritos are two popular local eating joints that I have personally been to several times and enjoyed. A little over a mile away is Henry's Hi-Life close to SAP Center where the Sharks play. Henry's has an old school bar in the front run by charismatic bartenders with fun personalities. The back half is a steakhouse that has incredibly fast service with great food at a reasonable price. This is my favorite stop when I am in San Jose.
The Winchester Mystery House known for its bizarre architecture is a few minutes drive from campus. The house was originally owned by the widow of the same Winchester of Winchester gun fame. For the techies in your crew the Tech Museum of Innovation is within walking distance to campus. There are many cool things that show the evolution of high tech in the Silicon Valley area through the years as well as newer inventions.
Marriott, Hilton, and Hilton Garden Inn all have properties within walking distance to campus, downtown, restaurants, and entertainment.
The commuter school effect combined with the fact that there are five other Division I basketball programs in the Bay Area has some bearing on the sparse attendance.
Attendance is light compared to all other schools in the Bay Area and in the MWC. Weeknight attendance is somewhat higher than weekend but an average crowd is approximately 1,000 fans.
Aside from the band and cheerleaders, the crowd is fairly quiet.
The Event Center at SJSU is easy to get to from the 280 freeway off of the 7th Street exit. It can also be accessed from the City Center or Guadalupe Parkway easily if you are coming from that direction.
The box office is at the bottom of a large stairway that takes you into the arena. The concourse is spacious and easy to get around once inside. Looking down onto the floor of the court from the concourse gives it a much larger appearance than it is.
The Mineta San Jose Airport is less than 10 minutes away.
There is one parking garage for visitors about 200 yards from the arena. The costs is 5 dollars and is very easy to access and depart.
The San Jose State Event Center offers a great value for a Division I college basketball game. The ROI would be higher if the fan base was larger and more engaged.
Take a stroll around campus and a get a feel for the growth of the oldest college on the West Coast. You can spot structures from different eras that represent the fabric of time woven into the school history. You can also visit Spartan Stadium where the football team plays sitting one mile south, off campus. Last if you are a hockey fan, the San Jose Sharks of the NHL play in the SAP center one mile west. If you are lucky, you may be able to catch a game in both venues on the same day. Being close to downtown San Jose is also a plus.
My takeaway after the game I attended is that the atmosphere on a week night game is most likely much more festive. In fact, I attended a game five years ago when the Spartans played Boise State. The game went into an astounding five overtimes. The vibe and atmosphere on that night was off the charts. The physical attributes of the facility are above par for a mid-major program. If you combine the proximity of the bustling city with all it has to offer with a competitive game at the Event Center, one can have an amazing time.
Member Review by ryannorris
The San Jose State University Event Center is the home of the Spartans of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Located at the corner of South 7th and San Carlos Streets, the Event Center holds 4,600 spectators for basketball games and over 6,500 for concerts and other events.
It seems this venue is just as popular for music as it is for college basketball since so many big names have performed at the San Jose State campus. It seems to be the second option for arena style concerts in San Jose behind the Sharks home at HP Pavilion.
The outdoor facade is pleasing on the eyes as it has complex, modern features, but is still able to blend in with the older buildings around it and on this night, welcomed in the Weber State Wildcats from Ogden, Utah.
This drizzly Friday night brought no more than 500 butts to the seats inside. It could not have been more than 20% full for this non-conference battle and noticeably lacked any sort of student section. The only thing more obvious than the empty seats were the distractingly bad silver bathrobes the Spartans were wearing.
The banners that hung over one baseline represented the accomplishments of several different sports (baseball, gymnastics, volleyball, etc), while the banners high above the sidelines were designated for basketball accomplishments. Of the banners hanging, one was for the retired number 34, in honor of Rick Berry (no, not that Rick Barry).
At either baseline were black curtains that covered up excess bleacher seating, presumably available for bigger games or events. Above these curtains were very nice scoreboards, making available any information you might need.
Member Review by ryannorris on Jan 31, 2014
What a difference a move to a more prestigious conference makes. Though San Jose State has yet to experience any quantifiable success on the court in the Mountain West Conference, the increased buzz surrounding the program is undeniable. It also helps that they have natural rivalries with the other CSU schools, San Diego State and Fresno State.
The folks in charge of the basketball games at the Event Center have really done a lot to create a place that fans want to go. And why not? In a city of over 1 million people and on a campus of over 30,000 students, the basketball games should be well attended.
The Spartans have made the NCAA Tournament three times in their history, most recently in 1996. They were defeated that year in the first round, just like their other trips to the tournament. In fact, SJSU has never made it past the first round of any postseason tournament, including the NIT and the CBI.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on Feb 04, 2016
Attended a Fresno State game, which jacked up ticket prices to $16 for GA. Fortunately, ushers do not check, and I sat where I wanted, but that was way too much (tickets are $10 for most other opponents). Food is half price for students, and the student section is well populated. There is a plaque honouring Bill Walsh on the lower level as you exit post game, but that is about it.
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