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Official Review by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Opened for business in 1994, the Walter Pyramid, or as locals affectionately call it, The Pyramid, has become as much an iconic sight in Long Beach as The Queen Mary. OK, that may be a stretch. Celebrating 20 years of operation, it is one of four pyramid buildings in the U.S. along with others in Las Vegas, Memphis, and San Diego. In addition to hosting Long Beach State athletics, it was also the home of the NBA Summer Pro League from 1995 to 2007. When seen from a distance, when you see the sight of a blue shaped pyramid, there’s no mistaking where you are…THE BEACH.
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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".
The Walter Pyramid offers only two concession areas, one at the north end and one at the south serving your basic arena fare, cheese pizza ($3.75), pepperoni pizza ($4) salad ($7), soda (24 oz for $3.50, 32 oz for $3.75), Go Beach Water ($3), Powerade ($3.50), and Red Bull ($4). The dessert menu includes items such as frozen lemonade ($4), cookie sandwich ($3.50), and a drumstick ($3). A Kettle corn stand is also set up, selling in bags for ($4) for a small, ($6) for a large and ($5) for caramel.
With the students away on winter break (funny, the previous reviewer Drew C had the same experience. Oh the timing...), the student section, dubbed The Maniacs, was filled up with local youth groups. The band was made up of alumni members.
Despite the absence of a true student section on this day, The Pyramid was packed nonetheless and the enthusiasm of the locals was very high. I can only imagine how much louder this place could be with an actual student presence.
The seats are placed on movable sections supported by hydraulics, giving fans the chance to create a louder atmosphere as they can stomp their feet on the metal panels. With a capacity of just over 4,000 seats the inside of The Pyramid, while feeling rather cavernous, is rather intimate with no seat being too far away from the action.
"Prospectin' Pete," the 49ers mascot, makes an appearance in between breaks in the action but never really engages himself in any kind of fan interaction as he stayed pretty much in one corner of the floor during the action. With a huge presence of kids and other youth groups in attendance, one would think a mascot would do most of their interaction with that core group.
The area surrounding the campus of Long Beach State does not really offer much in terms of pre/postgame dining and entertainment. However, for the tourists, The Pike is where the major attractions such as The Queen Mary, Aquarium of The Pacific (one of my favorite Long Beach attractions) and other dining options such as CPK, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Hooters are among the local dining options all located in one central area.
Should you happen to have some time to kill before the game and find yourself in The Pike, I highly recommend The Aquarium of The Pacific. One of my favorite things to do at The Aquarium is the touch tanks where you get to pet little baby sharks and rays. Lots of fun for kids.
Despite the students being off on break, the majority of the arena seemed to be filled and the fans were very much involved with the action. While I did not see a lot of Long Beach State colors on the fan base, nor did I hear many orchestrated chants, the fans seemed engaged on every play and were typically on their feet after a big play.
The student section known as the Monson Maniacs was on winter break; it seems to be a rather passionate group with lots of great perks for those who join.
Arriving to the arena should not be too difficult as it is easily accessible from the 405 freeway and Pacific Coast Highway. Parking garages are located nearby with parking costs at $5. Should you decide to use public transit, the Long Beach Transit offers service from downtown LB, with routes 91 and 94 taking passengers inside campus leaving them a short walk away from the arena.
When entering the arena, most fans walk up a flight of stairs through an upper concourse that encircles the entire arena. The concourses here at The Pyramid may be some of the widest concourses you will find yourself walking through in any of your indoor arena visits. One of the nice things about the concourse here is that you can walk all the way around and not miss any of the action happening on the court.
Ticket prices to see Long Beach State basketball can range from $9 up to $25 depending on seat location and level of game. With every seat close to the action and the local 5 in the hunt for a Big West title, Long Beach State games are a good bargain. They also offer a great alternative for the locals who don't want to travel all the way to Los Angeles to see a basketball game in a really nice venue.
One of the nice things about walking around The Pyramid aside from the ability to walk around the wide concourses without missing any of the action on the floor are the various murals and quotes from past Long Beach State athletes who would go on to stardom, among them Lucious Harris, Craig Hodges, and quotes from current MLB stars Evan Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki and of course Jared Weaver.
Along the west concourse is the school's Hall of Fame display that also include former 49er and UNLV head coach Jerry Tarkanian. Next to the HOF display is a kids play area where kids can get in some mini hoops action away from the hoops action on the court. For good measure, the home team is also available for postgame autographs along the HOF display, with most of those in line being kids from the local youth groups.
Also, at the south end of The Pyramid is a good sized LED video board that not only displays game stats but shows highlights and other game related action as well. The size and display of the board are so impressive it would also be of great use in an NBA venue.
It would be very difficult to miss the location of The Walter Pyramid while on campus. One only has to look toward a blue pyramid shaped building and walk toward it.
Though the inside can feel quite cavernous due to its high ceiling, all seats are close to the action. I also like the design of the court, with sand dunes and palm trees tastefully engrained onto the floor without being a distraction to the viewer. During my trips to various Big West venues this season, I have noticed that schools, particularly the smaller level Division 1 schools, have taken extra steps when presenting the appearance of their court, no doubt to help recruit top tier high school talent.
The east concourse, though wide enough that a truck can drive through, could use some more exhibits such as the west concourse has with the HOF and kids play area. I could imagine that temporary bleachers could be set up there should an event with a good sized overflow crowd is expected.
A basketball game inside The Walter Pyramid is one you should experience. It's not often you can say that you viewed a sporting event under a pyramid-shaped building. In addition to the unique experience, the fans here know how to pack the building, providing quite a home court advantage for the local 5.
Member Review by DrewCieszynski
Despite their perceived extinction thousands of years before America was even discovered, the United States continues to have a fascination with "modern pyramids." Some of the more notable ones include Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tennessee or the Luxor Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. A third pyramid is found south of Los Angeles in Long Beach, known as the Walter Pyramid.
The Pyramid was opened in 1994 at a cost of approximately $22 million. It was originally known as the Long Beach Pyramid, but later became the "Walter Pyramid" on March 5, 2005 as Mike and Arlene gave the athletics program a donation that significantly surpassed all others in school history.
If you are a "mathlete," you can appreciate this "true" pyramid as each side measures 345 feet. Driving past, you'll quickly notice the cobalt blue exterior made from aluminum. Locals can notice it from the 405 freeway and many points in Long Beach as it rises 18 stories beyond the skyline. It is said that the building uses 18,000 steel tubes and connection modules, held together by over 160,000 three-quarter inch bolts.
Once inside, fans will find 5,000 permanent seats, although some games have spilled over that mark. The interior is a sharp contrast from the exterior, with colors of black and gold rather than the dark blue.
The Pyramid is home to the California State University, Long Beach 49ers. As you walk through the venue, the nickname of 49ers is not so apparent as is the nickname "The Beach" or "Long Beach State."
At one end of the arena, you'll find the retired numbers from the program. While the school has produced over 15 NBA players, only three jerseys are retired for Men's Basketball: Ed Ratleff (42), Bryon Russell (32), and Lucious Harris (30).
As of 2010, the 49ers had eight NCAA Tournament appearances, winning seven games over that span. Prior to playing in the Walter Pyramid, the 49ers played in the downtown Long Beach Arena and at an on-campus venue known as the "Gold Mine," which had a capacity of less than 2,000.
1760 Bellflower Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90815
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