Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Grand Canyon University Arena 3300 West Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85017
Year Opened: 2011 Capacity: 7,000
Grand Canyon University is a large private Christian university located north of downtown Phoenix, AZ. 20,000 students attend the physical campus with another 70,000 doing so online.
The university opened in 1949 and has been located in Phoenix in 1951.
Grand Canyon University has been controversial in that it has held a for-profit status for many years. The school is trying to shed that status but so far the federal government is not convinced. That for-profit status has made some other colleges unhappy about Grand Canyon playing NCAA basketball, although recently much of that controversy has been cooling.
Grand Canyon University offers over 200 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs through its nine colleges.
Grand Canyon University is a member of NCAA Division I with most sports participating in the Western Athletic Conference. The school's mascot is the Antelope.
One of the most famous alumni is comedian Bill Engvall, while businessman Jerry Colangelo is maybe the person most known as having a Grand Canyon affiliation.
The Grand Canyon University Arena, most often referred to as the GCU Arena, was opened in 2011. Just over three years after opening, GCU Arena closed on March 3, 2014, to undergo a massive remodel that saw an addition of 2,000 more seats.
Food & Beverage 3
GCU Arena has five concession stands offering a decent amount of food offerings at a very good value. The Qdoba offerings or the burger are our recommended choices.
Pepsi is the cola brand of choice and there is no alcohol sold.
It is quite weird that a new arena went through a massive remodeling so soon after it opened, but the additions made a very good arena even better, as well as larger.
The new upper deck addition did create some weird things in GCU Arena. The upper deck itself has some support straps that hang into view, but luckily they don’t impede views much. There are also some weird seats under the upper deck along the north part of the arena. They are very nearly enclosed and make a theater kind of seating area. We really liked that seating area very much. It is unlike any other seating area we have seen before.
The game atmosphere is pretty amazing. We will touch on the student section under the Fans area, but there is so many things that enhance the experience here. There is a band, cheerleaders as well as the perfect amount of basketball cheer to make it a special place. Just one note, the arena is very loud, both from the fans as well as with the music played.
Much of the concourses are carpeted and likely will see wear and tear quicker than a tiled or concrete floor.
Grand Canyon University is located in a very urban and sometimes rough neighborhood. There may not be too many local establishments that a sports fan will enjoy in the direct area so it may be best to do those kinds of things away from the arena.
The university claims to have lowered crime rates in the area, as well as increasing property prices. The university also does a good job of engaging and working with the local neighborhood to try to become a good neighbor.
Posting and the Highland Food Hun are some local options for food. Otherwise, downtown Phoenix is likely where a fan will need to look for good restaurants and bars. Rise Uptown Hotel is a good hotel option. If the GCU Hotel opens for guests again that is another good choice as it is right on campus.
The student section alone makes it that this arena gets a full set of stars for fan support.
That student section, called the “Havoc”, deserves a place alongside all great student sections in the country. It may even be at the top of that list. They are loud and proud throughout the entire night. They are cheering, singing, dancing and creating a great atmosphere unlike almost any this reporter has witnessed previously. We also saw the students rush into the arena, run up the stairs all in the search for the best seat. It was quite a sight.
The other fans in the arena are nearly just as joyous and engaged as the students. They may not dance and sing as much as the students, but they clearly know the game and enjoy the basketball experience.
The university is located north of downtown along 33rd Avenue. The access to the area is good and the free parking at either the large garage off of 33rd Avenue or other nearby parking lots makes getting to a game fairly easy.
Security checks are outside of the arena itself and makes it an easy way in to the venue.
Return on Investment 4
The Antelopes offer fairly cheap tickets, sometimes far under $20. With the decent priced concessions and the free parking, the return on investment here is strong.
The Jerry Colangelo Museum is located next to the arena and showcases items from the businessman’s life and career in and outside of basketball. Colangelo was a star basketball player at Illinois as well as being identified with the United States Olympic Team.
A vault of Bibles is buried underneath center court.
The unique upper deck and related seating makes for some interesting extras to see here at the GCU Arena.
There is a very good team store located at the entrance level of the arena.
GCU Arena is a gem of an arena that offers a great basketball atmosphere with a student section that rivals any other in the nation.