Beeghley Center – Youngstown State Penguins
Photo Courtesy of James Mullen
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71
Beeghley Center 1 University Plaza Youngstown, OH 44502
Year Opened: 1972
In 1981, the Youngstown State Penguins began competition at the Division I level as an independent. Today they are a member of the basketball-rich Horizon League. Their home is the Beeghly Center, built in 1972. It is a modest arena, with few exciting amenities for fans, but can be a good place to see some Division I college basketball up close and personal.
The court itself is named for legendary YSU baseball and basketball coach, Dominic Rosselli. Dom Rosselli Court stands as a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated 43 years of his life to coaching at the university. He stands as the all-time leader in coaching wins for the program for both basketball and baseball.
Athletically, Youngstown State is much more known as a football school than a basketball school. The women’s basketball team has shown more success than the men’s, making an appearance in the NCAA Tournament’s second round in 1998. More than 30 years into their history as a D-I school, and the men have yet to make an appearance in the Big Dance.
Food & Beverage 2
There is one lone concession stand in the main lobby when entering. You will find less than what is offered in most college basketball arenas. The one somewhat unique item was the pepperoni roll ($3.25), which was decent, but is no longer on the menu. Without it, your choices are limited to hot dog ($3), pretzel ($3), nachos ($4/$5), popcorn ($3), or peanuts ($3.50). Prices have increased dramatically since the 2011-2012 season when we last reviewed the facility, but the quality has dropped. Be sure to eat before or wait it out until after the game.
Beverages are provided by Pepsi, with a 20-ounce bottle costing $3.25. Bottles of water ($3) and Gatorade ($3.25) are also available. Hot beverages, including cocoa and coffee can be found if you need something to warm you up on a cold Ohio winter’s night ($2.50).
The bottom line is you won’t starve here, but you are better off getting a meal before or after a game.
The arena feels small, but is a good size for this level of basketball. At each end behind/above the basket, there are permanent wooden bleachers, installed during a renovation in 1983. Along each sideline, there are ten rows red plastic seats with chairbacks, but no cup holder. These seats are dubbed the “Penguin Club.” Seats provide less than average leg room and generally will be uncomfortable if you have anyone sitting behind or in front of you as they lean slightly.
Above that, there is an upper section of expandable wooden bleachers, which rise up 33 rows. If you choose these seats, be sure to go with row W or lower so your view of the scoreboard is not obstructed. These bleacher seats can be a bit wobbly so if your step is not steady, then consider the red seats or permanent bleachers behind the baskets.
The cheerleaders do an above average job of encouraging the fans. The small pep band is powerful and energetic, and much better than what you would expect for this level of basketball. The band and the cheerleaders have begun to do a better job of coordinating their activities, adding some much needed energy to the arena experience at Youngstown State.
There is a male penguin mascot, named Pete. He is sometimes joined by the female penguin mascot, named Penny. He’s fairly inactive during the game, but seems to be beloved as he waddles around the court.
Youngstown State turns out the lights and adds spotlights to the introduction of the home team, an act that feels rather overdone for a venue of this size. The scoreboard has had a video screen added in recent years, and also displays stats for the players on the floor (fouls and points), as well as everything else you need to follow the game.
Youngstown, Ohio is in eastern Ohio, about 10 miles from the Pennsylvania border, just off I-80. The basketball arena is on campus so there are a number of fast food, or college ready food (coffee shops and burritos) within walking distance. For a real treat, take the walk to Charlie Staples Bar-B-Que, an institution for over 40 years. You’ll likely be greeted by Charlie himself, who is almost always at the restaurant. They use a sauce recipe that is over 100 years old. This is a definite stop for anyone who likes a good ‘Que.
Royal Oaks Bar & Grill comes highly recommended, as does O’Donold’s Irish Pub.
If you want to get a little art into your trip to Youngstown, then consider making the trip to the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, or the smaller branch in nearby Howland Township.
About six miles away you’ll find the town of Niles, birthplace of the 25th President of the United States, William McKinley. Here you can find his library, museum, and the home where he was born.
Your best bet for a hotel would be to head north after the basketball game where you will find several chain hotels along I-80, including a Days Inn with rates beginning at $50 a night. If you’ll be in town for a few nights, then check the schedue of the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms, who play at the nearby Covelli Centre.
The real disappointment here is that there is no clear student section anywhere in the arena. The other fans don’t bring enough energy to make up for this deficit. If it wasn’t for a much better than average pep band, and decent cheerleading squad, this place would be rather dead.
The Youngstown State campus is just a short drive from I-80, and is approximately halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, about an hour drive in either direction. Shoot for the parking garage at the corner of 5th and Lincoln Avenue, where you can find parking for just $5. Police officers will be ticketing cars parked on the road, so be sure to check the signs before parking your car if you choose to go elsewhere besides the lot.
If you have any trouble finding the basketball arena, look for Stambaugh Stadium (“The Ice Castle”), which is easily seen from many vantage points around the city.
Once inside the arena, you should have no trouble getting around, although the restrooms can get a bit cramped during peak times. If you want to avoid a crowd, then sneak out a couple of minutes early at halftime or the end of the game.
Return on Investment 3
It is worth your while to purchase tickets in advance, both to secure a seat, as well as to save $2 per seat. On game day, tickets are $14 for reserved seats, and $10 for general admission. In this case, my recommendation is to go for the reserved seat, so you can have the comfort of a seatback, for just $4 more. Sections 12-17 would give you a view of the benches, and that menacing Penguin logo at center court. Section 15, row 5 would be ideal. However, if you are over six feet tall, then you may find the reserved seats a bit cramped, and would likely be better off in the bleachers.
When you add in parking, drink, and something to eat, you end up with a very affordable price of less than $25. That said, unless you are a big time fan of the Penguins, that night’s opponent or college basketball in general, then this experience just barely makes it in at the right price.
There is a large bookstore across the plaza from the arena entrance. This is a good place to pick up any Youngstown State gear that you may want. There is also merchandise sold in the main lobby of the arena. I’ll also offer one additional point for the much better than average pep band, which helps to fill the void left by the absence of a student section.
The Horizon League is generally an entertaining basketball conference, and this could be a decent place to see a game. Unfortunately, with no student presence and unappetizing concession choices, there is little to like about the arena experience besides the action on the floor.