Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Cintas Center FANFARE Score: 4.14
Cintas Center 1624 Herald Ave Cincinnati, OH 45207
Year Opened: 2000 Capacity: 10,250
All For One at Xavier’s Cintas Center
The Cintas Center is the home of the Xavier University men’s and women’s basketball teams. It was built through private donations as part of the school’s Century Campaign, opening in June 2000 at $46 million. The arena has a capacity of 10,250 and includes a large open concourse, an auxiliary gym, and multiple meeting and event spaces.
The Musketeers have flourished, posting a 310-54 record as of this writing. The team also advanced to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament three times since the Cintas Center opened, while the program has made 28 appearances in the post-season tournament.
However, as modern as a building as it is, it will go under the knife as construction begins on refreshing suites, adding new seating options, and expanding hospitality and other social areas over the next two summers. The renovations will be completed in time for the 2024/2025 season and will decrease capacity to 10,224.
Food & Beverages 4
The Cintas Center offers a fair amount of food that is very traditional for a college basketball game. There is nothing unusual, but the building offers Hoopy Hour before the game. Fans can enjoy $2 discounts 60 minutes before the game.
Fans will find hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, chicken tenders, popcorn, chips, peanuts, and candy. The most unusual item is the Cincy pork nachos: barbecue pulled pork covered with cheese and topped with pickled onions and jalapenos. There is a kiosk called the Quatman Cafe, offering freshly made burgers and local Cincinnati Grippo’s barbecue potato chips.
If you're looking to wash all that food down, you will find Pepsi products and an assortment of beer from Bud Light, to Sam Adams, to Great Lakes. A lot of the craft beer is located in D'Artagnan's Deck in section 200. There is also White Claw and wine offered at the game.
A Xavier game is quite the experience with a rabid student section, along with near-capacity crowds to provide a home-court advantage for the Musketeers. Also, when your team is naturally ranked, it can provide quite the atmosphere for the first-time visitor.
The Cintas Center feels more like a multi-purpose venue but is the ideal size for basketball. The main concourse is decorated with giant photographs of the various sports teams that play on campus and more than enough historical photos of Xavier logos from the past. this is perhaps one of the things that stand out as a school has quite an array of word marks and brands from its glorious past.
There was also a Hall of Fame that included memorabilia and historic pieces from Xavier’s basketball, football, volleyball, and Olympic sports teams. The Hall of Fame also features a video highlighting the history and tradition of Xavier athletics. Former NBA Draft pick and Musketeer David West has a colorful mural inside the building.
The student section produces quite a bit of noise, and they line up very early before a game. They provide a beautiful backdrop to the athletes on the court and bring the decibels up quite a bit. The school has two official mascots, D'Artagnan, and The Blue Bob. A bizarre trio, but beloved figures at the arena. D'Artagnan waves the flag before games, while The Blue Blob looks like a Jim Henson creation.
There is not a bad seat in the house, and most of the fans are focused on the court below. Banners are hanging from the rafters, and a modern visual scoreboard looms above the center court. The seating bowl does not wrap all the way around, but the outer concourse does for easy access for visitors.
The University Station development near Cintas Center has finally filled in. The mix of campus housing and street-level retail has brought some life to what was long an empty lot at the gateway to the university area. It does feature several food options, but since it is aimed at the college crowd, most are quick service shops like Starbucks and donut bakeries, along with a Gold Star Chili.
There are several restaurants just off-campus, including Betta’s Italian Oven, a popular pregame spot near the corner of Cleneay and Montgomery Road. A short drive north on Montgomery will lead you to Gordo’s Pub & Grill (4328 Montgomery), featuring one of the city’s best burgers, along with a creative beer list.
Across the street from the campus is one of the city’s best microbreweries, Listerman Brewing Company. The small, unassuming building offers everything from pale ales and IPAs to peanut butter porters and vanilla and cinnamon stouts. A great place to meet before taking in a Musketeers game.
It's hard not to be impressed with the number of fans in the building. They are among the loudest and most dedicated in the state and could give some of the larger schools a run for their money as well. The student section makes their presence known and can stand up with the best of them, too.
If you're coming to the area via the Dana Avenue exit off I-71, it's best to give yourself some time, as the road toward campus can back up before big games. If coming from the north, you may find an easier path by taking SR-562 (a.k.a. the Norwood Lateral, as it runs between the city's two north-south interstates) and exiting at the US-22 (Montgomery Road). Then head west and turn left onto Montgomery. Follow this for a mile, and you'll encounter signs for the large basketball parking lot.
Once inside the building, the main concourse wraps around the seating Bowl and allows easy access in and out when necessary. There is plenty of parking surrounding the arena and off the main streets of the neighborhood.
Return on Investment 4
The price of tickets through the school could range from $40-$50, but slightly lower on secondary market sites. However, games can sell out fast, and depending on who the team is playing, prices can dip under $20 for non-rivals.
Public parking lots are located on the South side of campus. Gameday parking will be available in Lot E off Montgomery Road, and any lot labeled P. There is a charge of a $20 fee for any of these lots.
The Cintas Center earns a point for the decorations throughout the concourse, honoring the school's past. It earns an additional point for the Hoopy Hour, where concession prices or slashed a couple of bucks. The third point is awarded to the student section that is on its feet throughout the entire game. The fourth point is to The Blue Bob, one of the most unusual but endearing mascots in college sports.