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  • Steve Ohnsman

Breslin Center – Michigan State Spartans

Photo Courtesy of Michigan State University Athletics

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29

Breslin Center One Birch Rd East Lansing, MI 48824

Year Opened: 1989

Capacity: 14,759


Making Breslin Better for Basketball

The Breslin Center is the home to the Michigan State Spartans basketball program and over a two year period, the school spent $50 million from private donations to renovate the Breslin Center. They expanded the concourse, built the Gilbert Pavilion, constructed a new ticket office, improved bathroom facilities, added the Tom Izzo Hall of History and improved locker rooms as well as training facilities. The arena opened in 1989 and has 14,797 seats for basketball. The building is named after Jack Breslin, a three-sport star at MSU in the mid-1940s who then worked at the school for over 30 years. The arena features many areas for visitors to enjoy including the Hall of Fame, that features a superb display of both men’s and women’s championship trophies. On the outside of the building, a dynamic statue of former star Magic Johnson is on display.

Food & Beverage 4

The concourse behind the seating bowl offers concession stands and portable food carts. The Fresh Start stand offers healthy alternatives such as a grain bowl, fruit and yogurt parfait, the Hawaiian Stand offers smoothies for $6-$10, and Sparty’s Steakhouse has steak and meatball sandwiches for $10 as well as steak nachos and all-beef hot dogs.

Chicken Utopia features wings, tenders, and sandwiches all for $6.50, the MacCo has various mac and cheese choices $6-$10, Spartanville sausages go for $6.50, Smokestack BBQ features BBQ sliders and BBQ nachos, and multiple stands provide hot dogs, bratwurst and pizza slices. Fountain Pepsi products, Tim Horton’s coffee, and other traditional snacks are available at all stands.

Atmosphere 4

When it comes to atmosphere, there are not too many better places in the Big Ten than the Breslin Center. The school has a strong following from both alumni and students. Breslin Center has a “cozy” feel to it which is great for the fans.

The seat back chairs in the 200 level are recommended, close to center court as possible. These seats are comfortable with good sight lines, but they do lack cup holders. The 200 section provides both seat back chairs in the first 12 rows and 5 rows of bleacher seats at the top. The 100 section is the closest to the court and is typically sold out to season ticket holders and players’ parents. To sit there, fans typically will need to go to secondary ticket website sources. The center court video board offers in-game action, replays and lots of crowd shots. Its only downside is the small size of the statistic information displayed at the top of the board. The many Final Four and NCAA Championship (two for the men; one for the women) banners overhead are a reminder of the school’s great history.

Quite a few in-game promotions take place but the stars of the show are the players, Izzone, Pep Band and larger than life mascot Sparty. The $5 programs are sold all over the concourse and they are worth the price with lots of information on the players, coaches and team history.

Neighborhood 4

Popular nearby restaurants are the Harrison Roadhouse for its burgers and beer selection, Crunchy’s for burgers and pizza, and Charlie Kang’s for Chinese/Korean fare–the latter two are on the main drag, East Grand River Avenue, where new restaurants seem to open every few months. Venturing a little farther afield will provide diners many choices in downtown Lansing. Lodging abounds around the Lansing area, especially near the I-96 corridor. Near MSU, fans will find the East Lansing Marriott, the Kellogg Center on campus, and the delightful Wild Goose Inn B&B. In downtown Lansing, travelers will enjoy the State Capitol building and the R. E. Olds Transportation Museum. It is always enjoyable to walk along the banks of the Red Cedar River on campus.

Fans 5

The incredibly vibrant atmosphere is what makes the Breslin Center so special. The student section in the lower bowl (nearly surrounding the court) is named the Izzone after native Michigan head coach Tom Izzo who was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. He was born in the Upper Peninsula “The UP” town of Iron Mountain and has become an adored legend. The recently constructed Hall of History is named after him. The Izzone section is fun for the students and other fans. The superb MSU Pep Band sits behind one basket; each song they play gets the students moving with the beat in a well-choreographed style. Games are often sold out, so get your tickets early; the school ranks third in the Big 10 conference behind Wisconsin and Indiana in attendance marks. The fans are fully engaged throughout the game.

Access 4

There are various $10 parking in lots and garages surrounding Breslin and are highly recommended, but due to the location on campus, driving home after the game will take a while to clear the area after each game. At halftime, fairly long lines exist for both the men and women’s restrooms. Good news: hands-free air dryers have been installed. The concourse and food lines move slowly at halftime which is to be expected. We recommend using the Gilbert Pavilion entrance to enjoy some new pictures and basketball-related items. Another suggestion is to arrive early enough to enjoy the Izzo Hall of Fame before the game – bring your camera.

Return on Investment 4

Lower level seats, if available, cost $34. Upper-level seats (200 section) with backs are $26 and bleacher seats are $17. Fans buying tickets online in advance have the choice of having them mailed out or picked up at the will call window; either option costs an additional $12 each per ticket, quite a princely sum and much higher than most professional sports teams. This information makes the secondary market much more attractive. Concession and parking prices are fair for Big 10 events.

Extras 5

One point each for the student Izzone fans, the excellent MSU Pep Band, the beloved head coach Tom Izzo – his facial grimaces on TV are priceless, the beautiful banners hanging over the court, and the new Tom Izzo Hall of Fame plus the Gilbert Pavilion area.

Final Thoughts

This is one of the holy grails for college basketball fans. If you are lucky enough to attend a Big 10 game vs one of MSU’s traditional rivals such as Michigan, Indiana, Purdue or Wisconsin, you will have a memorable experience.

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