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Official Review by Ryan Norris, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Alex G. Spanos Center is located on the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton, California. It opened in 1981 and now seats over 6,000 spectators and is named after the owner of the San Diego Chargers, a UOP alumn.
From 1981 to the opening of Stockton Arena in 2005, the Spanos Center was the premiere entertainment destination in Stockton as the facility is expandable to accommodate 8,000 people.
When entering the Spanos Center you notice the chair backed seats on one side of the court, wrapping around the backboards on both sides. The opposite side of the court has wooden bleachers, without backs.
The game I went to was against, currently out of conference, Hawaii. However starting next year, Hawaii will be joining the Big West in every sport except football.
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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".
There are two main snack bars in opposite corners of the venue as well as a smaller one beyond one end-line. There should be enough to satisfy your hunger albeit without getting too creative.
Hot dogs ($3.50), polish sausages ($4.50), and personal pizzas ($6.50) were the main dishes. However chili played a big role; chili dogs ($4), chili cheese dogs ($4.50), chili cheese nachos ($4.50-$5.50) or a plain old cup of chili ($2.50) were all available.
Pepsi products ($2.50-$3) and an array of candy and ice cream accompanied the main courses. Cans of Coors Original were available for $3.
The Spanos Center is a beautiful facility with a nicely designed ceiling, centered over the middle of the court. Orange and black banners close in the action and the excellent public address announcer work in concert for a great experience. This is a great place to watch college basketball.
All that being said, there weren't enough spectators to positively affect the atmosphere. The entire upper section was vacant. I'm sure this would be different for a weekend matchup.
The area surrounding the Spanos Center is largely upscale residential, including parts of the UOP campus. There isn't much in way of good hangouts in the immediate area but you can be sure you're in a safe neighborhood, unlike other parts of Stockton.
Though bars and restaurants within walking distance to and from the venue aren't very available, downtown Stockton, as well as the Miracle Mile, is not far away.
I'd recommend going to Valley Brewing Co about two miles away. They serve their own micro brews, good pub food, and you can take in sports memorabilia from all over Northern California as well as Stocktonians who made it to the big leagues.
Lastly, the Stockton Thunder and Stockton Ports play two and a half miles away on the Stockton waterfront.
Though the arena was far emptier than I'd have preferred to see, the fans in attendance were knowledgable and kept up with the roster of their Tigers. My section was full of regulars who all knew each other and talked shop on the previous home game or the last time the Tigers and the Hawaii Warriors met up.
Pacific won by about 10 on this particular night and the crowd of students and families were engaged throughout.
Less than thrilling was the student section that showed up in a large group, midway through the first quarter. When they did arrive I would have liked to see them sporting orange and black but instead the rolled in wearing street clothes and frat sweatshirts.
Spanos Center is located just a few blocks from highway 5 and two miles from 99. Getting from the freeways is easy through safe city blocks.
Take main drags Pershing or Alpine to the convenient (and on this night, spacious) parking lot. You can enter the arena from three of the four corner entrances.
You enter the Spanos Center at the top of the first level and the bottom of the second level. Restrooms and concession stands are at every other corner when you make your way around the court.
A night at Spanos Center is a great buy with general admission going for $10 and assigned seating for $12. The assigned seats are in chair backed seats.
With parking only $5 and concession prices at a reasonable level, combined with quality division I basketball (albeit the Big West Conference) make for a great night in Stockton.
I love the feel in Spanos Center. The banners on one end of the court honor the league championships from every sport for men and women in Pacific history. Below these banners are retired jerseys from all the programs as well. Most notable of which is former number one overall pick, Michael Olowokandi.
At the other end of the court are banners signifying accomplishments at the national collegiate level; for example NCAA tournament appearances by the basketball and swimming teams. Most dominating amongst these are the two National Championships for women's volleyball from the 1980s.
Lastly there was a cool (and very well received) halftime show highlighting a local group of Pacific Islanders. There was a excellent drum circle and (hula?) dancers from Stockton.
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