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Official Review by Stephen Gillam, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
With the recent success of the New Zealand Breakers, someone in a high place decided the North Shore Events Centre just wasn't big enough. While the team still plays there, around half of the regular season games have been shifted to New Zealand's largest indoor venue, Vector Arena.
Being the truly loyal bandwagoner that I am, I went along to the deciding Game Three of the Grand Finals series of the National Basketball League. The NBL is made up of nine teams, including eight in Australia and one team, the Breakers, based in New Zealand.
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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".
I'm not really a fan of stadium food, but I've certainly seen a lot worse than what was on offer at Vector Arena.
The range available was great. Alcoholic drinks include four types of beer, four types of wine and three different cocktails but will set you back close to $10, while the non-alcoholic selection includes the standard Coca-Cola range, water, energy drinks and orange juice. None of it is cheap, mind you, but there's a solid variety.
In terms of food, they basically serve small meals. For $8, I was able to get a cheeseburger which was slightly stale and undercooked in parts, but still tasted good and filled a hole for a couple of hours which is basically what you want. Also served are hot chips which can also be served with fish or calamari. The chicken range is decent too, including burgers and dippers.
If you want a proper meal, I suggest going elsewhere before or after the game.
In terms of atmosphere, this game was about the best I've seen. The noise of 10,000 fans was amplified by the closed-off building and it was great to be a part of.
The public address announcer and the players all did a superb job of keeping the crowd involved throughout the game.
The spectators with young kids put plugs in their ears to prevent permanent damage. This may be a wise thing to consider.
The Vector Arena is in a nice area of town. On the one hand, you have Auckland's waterfront - a beautiful place to behold in itself - just across the road.
And on the other hand, you have its proximity to central town. Finding food or somewhere to kill a bit of time is pretty easy to do, and you won't have to move far from the grounds.
If you plan on staying the night in Auckland after the game, I suggest finding somewhere beforehand as getting a room on short notice can be difficult.
Most of the fans are friendly enough to have a chat about the game during half time, and they clearly know their basketball. They were extremely passionate about their team and were happy to stand up and make lots of noise during the game. Despite obvious bias, they clearly know their stuff too.
To get to the stadium, you have to take a small bridge over a pair of train tracks. This railway leads to Britomart: the city's transport hub. Almost every train in the city stops here, and there are plenty of buses to be found within a few blocks' radius.
Parking is also fairly easy if you're happy to give yourself 20 minutes or so. Nearby public parking buildings are in abundance, and only cost $15 for the whole night if you arrive after 6:00 pm.
The stadium itself is fairly well designed and does well to spread foot traffic for ease of access when arriving and leaving.
Tickets here started at around $15 but went as high as $60. Personally, I think this was well worth it since it was the Grand Final, but I'd be hard-pressed to find reasons to spend that much during the regular season.
In saying that, almost all the seats provide an excellent view of the game and they put on a great show during NZ Breakers games at Vector Arena.
To start the second half, they get everyone to stand for "Can You Feel It" by the Jackson Five. It's an interesting way to create an atmosphere, but it works pretty well.
The scoreboard doesn't show players' names or scores - only their numbers and personal foul tally. While it's easy to read, there's also only the one board. For me, this is an area I found to be pretty remiss.
A bonus point was awarded for the organisers resisting the obvious urge to play "We Are the Champions" after the game.
This was easily the best indoor arena I've ever been to. It's a really beautiful building in which noise carries extremely well. I left the place fully satisfied and actually rather wishing I lived in Auckland for a while.
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