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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Chaifetz Arena – St. Louis Billikens

Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Chaifetz Arena 1 S Compton Ave St. Louis, MO 63103

Year Opened: 2008

Capacity: 10,600


The Home of Budweiser and Billikens

Saint Louis University (SLU) is a Catholic Jesuit university located in the Midtown Arts District of Saint Louis. It was founded in 1818 and currently has just under 14,000 students. The school is heavily involved in community service as part of its Jesuit mission. It is ranked #3 in the country for community involvement by the Princeton Review.

The athletic teams at SLU are known as the Billikens. So, what exactly is a Billiken? A Billiken is a mythical creature that brings good luck to those who are around them. They represent “things as they ought to be”. An SLU Billiken is blue and white and somewhat resembles one of the Teletubbies that used to appear on public television. Saint Louis University is the only university in the country that has a Billiken as its mascot.

The Billikens basketball program is the headline team at SLU, as there is no football program. The Billikens play in the Atlantic 10 Basketball Conference and have done quite well over the years. The Billikens have made the NCAA Tournament ten times and the NIT Tournament twenty times.

They have been the Conference Tournament Champions three times and Conference Regular Season Champions seven times. The team typically draws a crowd of 6,800 for home games, but it can be higher depending on who the opposing team is.

The Billikens play their home schedule at the on-campus Chaifetz Arena. The arena opened in 2008. It has a 10,600-seat capacity for basketball games. It offers a terrific atmosphere for watching games and is referred to as the “Jewel of Midtown” by many people in the area. The arena also offers 14 luxury boxes for major supporters.

Food & Beverage 3

There are six concession stands along the concourse at Chaifitz. They sell the typical arena staples, such as hot dogs ( $5), chicken tenders ($6), hamburgers ($7), pizza slices ($7), and candy ($5 ). The arena sells Pepsi brand sodas ($6), beer ($9), and bottled water ($5).

Atmosphere 4

The Chaifetz Arena is a wonderful place to enjoy a basketball game. There are two levels of seating in the arena, which both deliver great sight lines of the action due to a steep pitch to the seating bowl. All seats offer chairbacks, and the seats feature the blue color scheme used by all Billiken teams.

Chaifetz has a great electronics package in place, as it has four 14X 45 corner video boards/ scoreboards, a 959-foot ribbon board on the facing of the upper level, and an excellent sound system. The arena also has excellent lighting, which is used very effectively during the pregame introduction of the team.

The seating around the court keeps the crowd very involved in the game. One end of the court features the SLUnatic student section, which always seems to have an appropriate (or inappropriate?) cheer for almost any situation on the court. The alumni tend to be seated on the sides of the court or at midcourt, and they also add to the energy in the building. The third component of the crowd is simply locals who love basketball. There is no NBA franchise nearby, so these folks have adopted the Billikens as “their team”.

Neighborhood 4

SLU’s park-like campus is in the Midtown Arts District of St. Louis. It is within walking distance of several museums and the St. Louis Performing Arts Center. The campus is known for its stunning architecture, including several churches and numerous sculptures that grace the area.

Among the many restaurants in the area, Pappy’s Smokehouse stands out for its terrific barbeque. It is located just off campus on Olive Street. The restaurant has been highly rated by both Southern Living and the Food Network for many of its menu items.

The Element St. Louis Midtown Hotel offers easy access to Charifetz Arena, as it is located on Forest Park Avenue adjacent to the campus. The hotel has a rooftop bar that is very popular with SLU students.

Fans 3

The St. Louis Billikens have a very local and vocal fan base. They draw from both members of the SLU community (students, faculty, and alumni) and from outside of the school, as they are the dominant basketball program in the Greater St. Louis area.

The student section at the basketball games is known as the SLUnatics. They stand for practically the entire game and are never at a loss for some type of cheer. SLUnatics do everything they can to break a player’s concentration when the opposition is at the free-throw line.

The SLUnatics are aided by the 100-member St. Louis University Pep Band (otherwise known as the “Billiken Band”). The band seems to play for the entirety of the game, as it has a song for nearly every situation or opponent. They coordinate the tunes they play with both the cheer team and the dance team. The band attends every home game and all postseason games.

Access 4

Saint Louis University and Chaifetz Arena are easily accessed by public transportation or car. The university is located close to the many interstate highways that service the St. Louis area.

Directions from I-64 from the east: Take exit 37A onto Bernard/Market Street. Stay on Market Street until you reach Olive St. Turn left on Olive to the parking garage.

Directions for I-64 coming from the west: Take I-64 West toward Midtown and take exit 38A onto Forest Park. Take a right at Grand, then left at Lindell.

From I-44 heading east: Take I-44 East toward downtown St. Louis. Take exit 287A onto Kingshighway. Merge onto I-64 East, then take Exit 37A onto Bernard /Market.

The SLU campus and Chaifetz can also be accessed via St. Louis’ light rail system. Take the train to the Grand Station. Shuttles run on game nights, with direct service to Chaifitz Arena. Doors to the arena open 60 minutes before tipoff, allowing you plenty of time to get to your seats.

Return on Investment 3

A trip to the Chaifetz Arena and a Billikens game can be an expensive proposition, as ticket prices, parking and concessions are not cheap.

Tickets to Billikens games are available at several price points. The cheapest tickets are $20 (upper level behind the basket) Other tickets are available in these price ranges. Upper-level corner tickets are $25, upper-level tickets on the side are $30, and an upper level at midcourt sells for $50. Lower-level seats are $50 for corner or behind-the-basket seats, lower-level midcourt costs $85, and lower-level midcourt first 10 rows are $200.

Parking for Billikens games costs $15 prepaid or $20 day of the event at the Olive/Compton Parking Deck next to the arena. Parking for all Billiken games is available at the Olive/Compton Parking Garage on the SLU Campus. It is located on Olive Street.

Extras 4

As you enter Chaifetz Arena you will see a statue of a Billiken. Stop and rub its tummy. This will supposedly bring you good luck. As you enter the arena, make sure to check out all the Championship banners that hang from the rafters.

Chaifetz Arena has hosted dozens of music concerts featuring artists like Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Carrie Underwood, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, the Eagles, and many other top groups. Make sure you check out the Billiken Hall of Fame Walkway along the concourse of the Chaifetz Arena.

Final Thoughts

Chaifetz Arena is a convenient facility for basketball fans in the St. Louis area. It offers comfortable seating, excellent views of the action, and plenty of college spirit, courtesy of the Billiken Band and the SLUnatics.

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