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.
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 nearly identical concession stands, called "Fan Fare" at one end of the arena. Here you'll find arena staples such as hot dogs, Louisiana hot links, hamburgers, nachos, etc., ranging from $4.50-$6. Snacks such as churros and soft pretzels are also available here alongside Pepsi products.
The concourse stretches like a horseshoe above the sitting sections, hugging three quarters of the court. The sideline stands have pull down chair-backed seats with plenty of legroom and wide aisles.
On one end line there is bleacher seating below a huge scoreboard. This scoreboard is great because it is easy to read and has the necessary stats for the individuals on the floor. One drawback is that this screen, for as big as it is, doesn't have video capabilities. The space designated for the scoreboard would be plenty big for a video screen. Though there is no video being played within the seating area, there is a live feed that is broadcast on small flat screens around the concourse so you won't miss much if you have to leave your seat.
The other end line is filled with more pull down chair-backed seats. What's odd about this section is how far away this section is from end line. The pep band fits between the stands and the court with plenty of room to spare. The fans sitting in this section would be more impactful if they were closer to the gameplay.
High above one end line are the basketball banners honoring retired numbers and accomplishments of the team. One accomplishment honored was a trip to the CBI Tournament; not winning the CBI, just attending. I overheard one visiting fan asking, "What's the CBI?" There are banners on one sideline that honor the accomplishments of many other SJSU sports teams including boxing, track, and others.
Lake many schools are doing now, San Jose State now has graphics on their floor in the form of five Spartan warriors.
Overall the renovations and upgrades made to the Event Center are small but impactful just like the ones made recently at Spartan Stadium. Spartan Stadium plans to make an even bigger overhaul with the addition of the "Vermeil-Walsh Athletic Complex" beyond one of its end zones.
The San Jose State campus is located in one of the nicer urban areas of downtown. There are tons of bars and restaurants on 2nd Street, which happens to be on your way from the Caltrain station to the Event Center.
One of the most popular locations is Iguanas Taqueria. Crawling with students and families, Iguanas is home to the Burritozilla, an 18 inch, 5 pound behemoth.
Peanuts Deluxe Cafe serves American food for all three meals. Omelettes in the morning to burgers at night, this is a great place to stop for a quick meal. Note that they are closed on Sundays.
I've never really found a favorite bar in downtown San Jose. To me, the sports bars are just ok and the wine bars are too stuffy. Up pops Original Gravity Public House, a great beer bar on 1st Street. Here you'll find only unique beers from your favorite breweries, from the Bay Area and beyond.
There are many options for anyone in the immediate area; Dosa for Indian, Sa-By for Thai, and Tofoo Com Chay for vegetarian.
There is a large nearby rotunda (Plaza de Cesar Chavez) and when nice out, can be full of people enjoying the weather. This park is surrounded by museums, theaters and civic centers and seems to be a bit of hub for all things cultural in San Jose. My favorite cup of coffee is also poured there at a Philz Coffee location where every cup is individually brewed.
If you decide to walk under the 280 overpass you'll be pleased to find the Guadalupe River and its corresponding river trail. Weather permitting, I recommend a stroll or light jog for as long as the heart desires. It's beautiful over there.
The Spartan fanbase is certainly one that has grown in the last few years and it shows in the attendance. They are engaged in the action throughout, even when getting blown out by a top-ten, nationally ranked team. I think the increased exposure with moving to the MWC has certainly helped draw people in.
One quibble is the student section. The students were designated to sit on one end of one of the sidelines. There was a sign near the aisle to that section that said, "Student section is for standing only." There were no students standing. It would be hard to characterize it as a student section at all.
San Jose State is surrounded by three different freeways; 280, 101, 680. Each one of these has an exit within a mile of the University with 280 being the closest freeway. Whichever freeway you take will let you off in an easily navigated area of downtown San Jose.
When exiting from 280-Southbound, simply exit at 7th Street and make a left at the first light. The street will dead end into the 7th Street garage, 2 blocks from the Event Center. The fee for parking is $10. All the surface streets surrounding the venue have "No parking before 8pm" except certain neighborhood permits. So if you plan on parking on city streets, look for signs that allow it.
Caltrain is an option when coming from San Francisco or the peninsula to the North. It is a fifteen minute walk from the station to the University or you can take the free shuttle provided by the city called DASH.
When you approach the Event Center, you first notice the box office. To the left of the box office is a staircase that takes you up to the main entrance. In recent years, a DJ and lighting have been added along this spacious walkway and it has the feel like you're entering a party.
The concourse looks onto the court from both sidelines and is enclosed behind the one end line. It is on this end line that the two concession stands are. Every seat is below the concourse. So to recap, walk up the stairs outside and down the stairs once inside.
For Mountain West Conference games, adult general admission tickets start at $14.25. It is $16.30 for a reserved seat and I'd recommend spending the extra two bucks as the sightlines are much better. The price has gone up in recent years, but so too has the experience.
The food seems reasonably priced but it isn't anything spectacular. Parking has gone up in recent years but overall going to San Jose State game is a good value, particularly when you consider you can check out top quality opponents like San Diego State or New Mexico.
I was pleasantly surprised to see fans were seated in both baseline sections. During my last trip there was a sad looking black curtain behind the band and cheerleaders that only covered up about a third of the seating section. It was good to see the venue filled to about 85 percent.
Another extra would be the concert posters they have on display of many of the acts that have played the Event Center. When looking at the seating setup it's easy to see that basketball wasn't the top priority.
Lastly is the new graphics on the court. While I'm not a fan of this new trend and think the Spartans display is one of the worst, many fans seem to like it. It gives fans a sense of pride and uniqueness. The new floor along the party-like atmosphere near the upstairs entrance is a definite extra I wasn't expecting.
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.
330 S 3rd St
San Jose, CA 95112
275 East San Fernando Street
San Jose, CA 95112
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