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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

Ball Arena - Colorado Mammoth

Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Ball Arena 1000 Chopper Circle Denver, CO 80204

Year Opened: 1999

Capacity: 17,800

Get in the Box

Note: The name of the venue changed from Pepsi Center to Ball Arena Oct, 2020.

Founded in 2003, the Colorado Mammoth are celebrating their 15th season in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) this 2018/2019 season. They have made the playoffs in all but one of their years in existence. They captured the NLL championship in 2006 and won division titles in 2003, 2004, and 2007. It’s been a while since they’ve placed a banner on the rafters.

Two professional lacrosse teams are located in Denver, CO. The Major League Lacrosse (MLL) Outlaws play at Broncos Stadium at Mile High and the Mammoth play at the Pepsi Center.

The Pepsi Center is a multi-purpose venue in downtown Denver, CO. It is also home of the NBA Nuggets and the NHL Avalanche, as well as an event center for many concerts and conventions throughout the year. The team less featured in its souvenir shop, along the walls, and in advertisements is the NLL Mammoth.

Food & Beverage 4

Some concession stands are closed during Mammoth games as the fan attendance is not as large as at an Avalanche or Nuggets game. Outside food and beverages are not allowed in the Pepsi Center.

That said, the Pepsi Center still offers a wide range of options at expensive prices. Many more food and drink choices are on the first level than the third. If you have tickets for the third level, I recommend strolling around the first level before heading up. Tables are scattered throughout the concourse for consuming the food and drink, people watching, and soaking up the surroundings.

Selections include the standard hot dogs, pizza, pretzels, nachos, popcorn, candy, etc. Different or unique options are baked potatoes, chicken sandwiches, cheese steak sandwiches, chicken and waffles, mac and cheese balls, grilled cheese sandwiches, Go Nuts, bratwurst, Caesar salad, and onion rings. Pepsi varieties (of course) are the soda choice.

The traditional domestic beer offerings like Coors, Coors Light, Bud, Bud Light, and Miller Lite are available. The venue offers local brews such as Colorado Native, Dales Pale Ale, Odells, Breckenridge (most of these are on the first level) and other beer offerings include Fat Tire, Stella, Shock Top, and Red Hook. Premium cocktails, vodka lemonade, Moscow mule and basically, anything you might want to drink is here.

For those looking for a sit-down meal inside the arena, the Breckenridge Brewery Mountain House fits the bill. Its mountain lodge theme will transport you to the Rockies… while sparing you the frosty temperatures.

Atmosphere 2

The Mammoth put on a good show; it is all very well coordinated. The introduction includes motorcycles on the court and smoke and fire when the Mammoth players are announced. The young, pretty, athletic Wild Bunch dancers entertain the crowd during breaks in the game. And, a half time show includes various entertainment acts.

Several promotions are offered throughout the season such as Lacrosse Put Out Cancer, player autographs after game, and youth lacrosse games to name a few. Get in the Box posters and both teams’ line ups are handed out on entry to the Pepsi Center.

An announcer/emcee for the Mammoth does a good job getting the fans to ring their cow bells, make noise, and is a fine source of entertainment and motivation at a game. The temperature of the venue is fine. Bring layers just in case it’s too warm or too cold.

Two lines of closed captioning is offered in each of the four corners of the banner board section of the Pepsi Center and provide announcer comments and scoring and penalty results. Nice job to the Pepsi Center for providing that. More venues should do that.

Closed Captioning at Ball Arena, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey

At the game of this review, when entering the ticket box office area to purchase a ticket, a security rep stormed over and shouted “NO, you can’t come in here! We don’t open till 12 noon!” I would have left and never come back if I wasn’t doing a review for Stadium Journey. It’s a very poor way of welcoming Mammoth fans.

Neighborhood 5

Downtown Denver is a happening place to be. Numerous restaurants, bars, and shopping are within four or five blocks of the arena. It is safe walking in and around the downtown area before or after a game.

Denver is known for its craft brews. Be sure to take a brewery tour if you’re a connoisseur of the hops. I’d recommend Wynkoop’s at the corner of 18th St and Wynkoop St or Jagged Mountain (good IPAs) at the corner of 20th St and Lawrence St.

The 16th Street Mall is just within a few blocks and is a pedestrian outdoor mall containing many of those shops and eateries. Free shuttle buses cruise the 1.25 mile strip and one can hop and off at most corners as desired.

Check out recently renovated Union Station, a historic train station just a few blocks away. This houses a hotel, shops, bars, restaurants, and a public park atmosphere. A good place to eat pre or post game is the Thirsty Lion – it has a happy hour every day with a wide variety of beers and appetizers (enough for a meal) choices.

Brooklyn’s (a sports bar) is in the parking lot of the Pepsi Center. Although convenient, this place is not recommended as the food is not great and the drinks are quite expensive. A better place worth checking out just two blocks from the Pepsi Center is Tivoli’s Brewery who serves their own beer and has really good food choices.

The closest hotel is the Springhill Suites by Marriott and is only a 0.2 mile walk to the Pepsi Center and is walking distance to most of the downtown activities and venues.

Fans 4

The Mammoth fans are pretty spectacular.

As Mammoth player introductions are made, all fans stand, ring their cow bells and cheer. They boo the visiting team during their introduction.

When the Mammoth score a goal, fans high-five their neighbors in celebration; doesn’t really matter if you’re a stranger.

When an opposing team’s player gets a penalty, fans chant, “Hey #xx <insert player #> – Get-In-The-Box,” and stand up and point at the player as he walks toward the box. The last two minutes of the game all fans stand and applaud the players.

Average attendance has declined a bit over the years and the arena is not as packed as it once was: In the 2000’s, the average attendance ranged from 16,000 – 17,000; that number has reduced slightly to 13,000 – 16,000 a game with 14,465 the average attendance in the 2017 season.

Access 3

My recommendation for a Mammoth game (and any event/game at the Pepsi Center) is to take the RTD Light Rail and get off at the Pepsi Center/Elitch Gardens Station. An A Line train from DIA (Denver International Airport) travels direct to Union Station which is a short 0.5 mile walk to the Pepsi Center. Fans who want to visit a Mammoth game and downtown Denver won’t necessarily require a car anymore.

If driving, take I-25 and get off at Auraria Parkway if coming from the south or Speer Blvd if coming from the north. Parking on the Pepsi Center grounds ranges from $15 – $30. The $30 is valet parking and is open to the general public. The nearby Auraria Campus, home of the University of Colorado Denver and Metro State University, has cheaper parking while only being a 5-10 minute walk to the arena.

A designated Lyft/Uber area is just outside the venue.

Getting through security is hit or miss. Sometimes the gate staff are courteous other times they appear to growl and roll their eyes in annoyance at fans entering the venue and security area. This needs to be improved as fans don’t always feel welcome.

One must go through a security and metal detector just to purchase game day tickets which is asinine.

Plenty of operational bathrooms are available with minimal or no wait.

Hang out for a few minutes after the game and don’t leave immediately after the winning goal (but only just a few minutes otherwise you’ll be told to ‘Get Out’ about only 10 minutes after the end of the game; another un-fan friendly experience I’ve had at a Mammoth game). Players celebrate; shake hands with opponents like they do in the hockey playoffs and Stanley Cups finals. Players walk the entire court raising their sticks to the fans to show their appreciation. Sometimes there’s an interview with a player after the game; other times a post game autograph session is set up.

Return on Investment 2

Tickets range from $10 (the $2 surcharge is not added when purchasing game day tickets this 2018/2019 season!) through $32 for fieldside VIP seats.

Go to Happy Hour at the Thirsty Lion to lower food/drink expense and consider taking the light rail.

Although ticket prices are extremely inexpensive compared to the other teams at the Pepsi Center, I just can’t give a high ROI rating at a sports team whose security team sternly tells me I’m not allowed in and I have to go through metal detectors just to purchase a ticket.

Extras 3

Four retired Mammoth jerseys hang from the rafters: #22 Gary Gait (widely known as the best lacrosse player of all time), #6 Brian Langtry, #9 Gavin Prout, and #24 John Grant Jr.

Colorado Mammoth Retired Numbers, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey

Kudos to those ‘conversion crews’ who convert a basketball court on a Fri evening to a hockey arena for the following Sat afternoon to a lacrosse venue that same Sat evening then back again for a Sun evening basketball game.

For being able to take in a double header. Once or twice a year a fan can see an Avalanche and a Mammoth game at the Pepsi Center the same day.

Final Thoughts

The game of box lacrosse is an exciting, enjoyable, fantastic game to watch live. I’d recommend anyone who hasn’t seen a game yet to check it out. Customer service and being made to feel welcome each and every time needs to improve at Mammoth games at the Pepsi Center to make the entire experience worth coming back.

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