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Official Review by Jason Bartel, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Built in 1974, Wells Fargo Arena is the home of the Arizona State basketball programs, as well as the school’s volleyball, gymnastics, and wrestling teams. It was constructed for the low price tag of $8 million. Each sport has their NCAA Tournament appearances listed on banners in the arena, and it is plainly obvious that wrestling has outdone all the other sports by a wide margin.
The arena sits directly next to Sun Devil Stadium by the Tempe Buttes. This is a perfect representation of how the basketball program has always been in the shadow of the ASU football program. The basketball experience is decent though, especially for a school that has no real basketball history to build on.
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".
Wells Fargo Arena has concession stands located throughout the main concourse. Food prices are typical for what you would expect in an arena (hot dogs and nachos $4, popcorn $5, sodas $3-$7).
In addition to the regular concession stands, there is a food court area in the northeast section of the concourse, which offers build your own burgers, tacos, burritos, Papa John's Pizza, etc. This is a little more costly (the burger combo is $10), but it is certainly a nice change of pace from the regular concession stands. This area also has some tables set up for fans to sit down and enjoy their meal right there instead of returning to their seat.
On the north side of the arena, there is a special stand set up just for kids' meals. It has junior hot dogs, chicken tenders, small things of popcorn and a couple of other goodies just for the kids. On the west side, there is a stand dedicated to desserts, perfect for the second half of a game after having lunch or dinner before the game.
ASU's a Coca-Cola facility, and there are no alcohol options at on-campus arenas in the Pac-12.
Right when you walk into the main seating area, you immediately notice the mural of current and former ASU student-athletes lining the top of the arena. Combine that arena-wide mural with the maroon and gold walls, seats and banners, and there's no mistaking where you are.
Doors open one hour before tipoff, and fans can enter through any side, but the majority of fans come in through the south entrance. Students come in through the east doors. There's no problem getting around the concourse, as the main exterior concourse is fairly wide.
Every seat is remarkably close to the court, even up near the top. The intimate setting certainly helps put the fans right on top of the action, and makes the cheap seats more worth it. The seats themselves are not particularly comfortable, and do not have cup holders for fans.
The student section behind the west basket comes right down to court level, but along the sidelines the seats are not particularly close to the floor. The ASU pitchfork logo faces the south seats (sections R-V). The ASU bench is in the northwest corner (sections B-D), with the visiting bench on the northeast side (sections H and J). ASU enters the floor through the west tunnel, while the visiting team has to go through the student section and the east tunnel. This can lead to some issues with the visiting team getting the business from the Sun Devil students.
The main scoreboard sits above center court, and has four video boards. Each end behind the basket also has a video board, but everyone can easily see the main scoreboard. It's not overwhelmingly large, but fits perfect into a venue the size of Wells Fargo Arena. The main scoreboard has the basics (team score, fouls and timeouts remaining), while the video boards at each end have more detailed stats for the players currently on the floor.
The sound system leaves a lot to be desired, but the ASU pep band makes up for it with their size and volume. There are a couple of promotions during media timeouts, but most of them are filled by the ASU cheerleaders doing routines to pep band songs.
One tradition I don't understand: Don't Stop Believin' is played right before tip of every game.
Arizona St. probably has one of the best neighborhoods for its athletic facilities in the world. Wells Fargo Arena is located directly next to Sun Devil Stadium, and just a few hundred yards south of Packard Stadium.
Mill Avenue is just a short walk away, and is the place to go pretty much all the time when you're at ASU, but especially on game-days. Whatever kind of food or atmosphere or price you're looking for as far as food and drink are concerned, Mill Ave. has it. It's one of those places where you could go to a different restaurant or bar before every ASU basketball game and still not see everything by the end of the year.
Also not too far away is Buffalo Wild Wings, and several other places on Rural Rd. University Ave also has a lot of choices for people to eat and drink, including Devil's Advocate, Flaming Kabob, and Gus's New York Pizza, all of which are within a few blocks of Wells Fargo Arena.
About a mile northeast of Wells Fargo Arena is Tempe Marketplace, which has even more restaurants and shops, as well as a movie theater.
Golf your thing? The ASU Karsten Golf Course is literally right across the street from the ASU athletic facilities. There are several other golf courses not too far away as well.
Basically, any ASU game that you attend can be turned into an all-day event without ever having to move your car. The area is also accessible by the Phoenix light rail system, so even if you start in Downtown Phoenix, you really don't have to drive anywhere, all day long. There are hotels all over the area, or you could stay at a place that is near the light rail and make it to the game easily as well.
The Sun Devil student section brings it the best they can, but by no means is it full. The students closest to the floor are loud, but higher up in the section are students sitting during game action, or just a whole bunch of empty seats.
The rest of the fans stand at the beginning of each half until the opposing team scores, and the cheerleaders join them in the aisles. Then you don't hear from the regular fans for the rest of the game unless ASU has a completely dominating few minutes, or it's the last few minutes of a close game. All the noise for most of the game is generated by the pep band and about 100 students.
At the end of the national anthem, the ASU student section replaces "Brave" with "Devils"....um, alrighty.
A couple of other traditions include the students putting their hands up and yelling "Whoop!" before each ASU free throw. After a made free throw, they say "ASU" just like at the end of the fight song. Not a lot of strong traditions here though.
To distract opposing free throw shooters in the second half, the student section brings out two black curtains, and perform different things each time. It's a little bizarre, and blocks out the most passionate fans at the bottom.
All the ASU stadiums are located on the northeast side of campus, near the interchange of the Loop 101 Pima and Loop 202 Red Mountain Fwys. Wells Fargo Arena itself is located close to the Rural Rd. and University intersection. It is very easy to get to just by taking the Rural/Scottsdale exit on the 202 Red Mt.
If you're flying in, the Valley Metro Light Rail goes straight from Sky Harbor International Airport to the ASU / Downtown Tempe area.
General parking in the area is seven dollars on surface streets, and the garage next to the arena is reserved. The surface lots aren't such a bad deal because they are right next to the stadium, and have solar panels above them to keep your car in the shade.
Once in the arena, everything is fairly accessible. Some of the concession lines due bleed out into the concourse, so that makes it a little more difficult to get around. Handicap access is fairly straight forward. Each entrance has ramps leading up to it from the ground, and the handicap seating is right where fans enter the seating area.
At halftime it gets very difficult to walk around the concourse though, especially near the concession stands and the food court.
ASU has always been the little brother when it comes to basketball because of the powerhouse in Tucson. ASU is by no means a basketball school, and does not have a lot of basketball tradition. It's definitely more affordable to go to an Arizona St. game compared to a Wildcats game, but the quality of basketball, and the quality of the overall game experience are much lower than at McKale Center. Tickets for ASU games cost anywhere from $13-$69, and the $13 tickets are very reasonable with how the arena's set up.
For Pac-12 games, it's definitely reasonable to go an ASU game, especially if you're a transplanted fan of the visiting team living in Phoenix.
Throughout the concourse, you will find the ASU Athletics Hall of Fame. It's pretty cool to see all of that history in one place. ASU also has their trophy case set up in the south lobby to add to that history.
The neighborhood is an extra point on its own. It really just doesn't get any better than Mill Ave and the surrounding area.
While I was spoiled by spending my college days in Tucson and experiencing at least 15 Arizona games every year, I was pleasantly surprised by the ASU set up and what they've tried to do to come up with a home-court advantage. The maroon and gold all over the place certainly helps make it their own, and the intimacy makes it a fun place to watch some Pac-12 hoops.
Member Review by bdenny29
Situated in the shadows of Sun Devil Stadium, Wells Fargo Arena has played home to Arizona State's basketball teams since 1974. While the Sun Devil hoops program has never been confused with the elite in the nation, they typically provide a competitive team that will neither thrill nor disappoint. With recent renovations to the home court complete, the same can now be said of Wells Fargo Arena.
Member Review by sgswaney on Mar 29, 2013
Although I don't attend many college basketball games, this venue seemed mediocre. That being said, it was a blast even though the home team fell to Washington 68-59. Super easy and affordable parking at the garage across the street and inexpensive tickets (I think they were something like $17) made for a great basketball night. The food was really basic, but I was happy with a brat, a coke, and some popcorn.
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