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  • Writer's pictureAndrei Ojeda

Jenny Craig Pavilion – San Diego Toreros

Photos by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Jenny Craig Pavilion 5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110

Year Opened: 2000

Capacity: 5,100


Journey to The Slim Gym

While the venue looks like a pristine, new facility, it actually opened back in 2000. When the doors opened, Jenny Craig herself was there to present it to the students and faculty. The facility was constructed at a cost of $17 million and seats 5,100 fans. We’ve all heard of stadium names that have received nicknames rather than their true corporate nickname such as “The Pond” (Honda Center – Anaheim Ducks), or “The Big A” (Angel Stadium of Anaheim) or even the Jenny Craig Pavilion, which many like to refer as, JCP, which may lead some to think the venue is named after the once popular department store JC Penny. Even with the JCP moniker, the JCP also goes by another nickname, and of all the nicknames, it may have the best of them all, known as the “Slim Gym” as a play on the diet plan.

Strangely enough, the Torero basketball program is more known for producing NBA coaches than players. While the program has laid the groundwork for players to ascend into the NBA, many of them achieved more success in the coaching ranks. Three of them include Bernie Bickerstaff (Sonics, Nuggets, Wizards), Eric Musselman (Warriors, Kings), and Mike Brown (Cavaliers).

Before proceeding, I should also mention the nickname of the University of San Diego. Those who have not experienced the local culture may not be familiar with the term “torero.” A popular term in Spain, Portugal, and Mexico, torero is a term used for a bullfighter. The term is synonymous with “matador,” the nickname for the team two hours north at Cal State Northridge.

Food & Beverage 3

The dining options here are a step above what you would normally find in a small venue. One can even step out to the courtyard and purchase food in one of a few pop up stands as well as a food truck.

Inside the foyer, you have your basic fare, hot dogs, nachos and fries ($5), garlic fries ($6.50), chicken tenders ($7.50 / $9 with fries) and BBQ pulled pork sandwich ($9). Healthy options, ironically limited in a venue named after a health guru, are Caesar salad ($8) and whole fruit ($2).

The beverage options include soda (Coke products: medium $4.50 for 21 oz, $5.50 for 32 oz.) bottled water and Powerade ($4.50), and coffee or hot cocoa ($3).

If you decide you want to step outside into the courtyard a food truck offers bbq chicken sandwich and cheeseburger and fries ($10).

Doggos Gus has a pop up stand that serves Mexican Gourmet Hot Dogs, $6 for a Baja Doggo, a jumbo bacon wrapped dog topped with grilled onions and jalapenos ($7 for super jumbo) as well as Doggo Nachos, chips covered with nacho cheese and topped with bacon wrapped hot dog slices ($7).

Other pop up stands at the courtyard offer kettle corn ($6) and Greek dining options. Gyro and falafel wraps are $7, plates $12. Gyro and falafel plates come with salad, rice, hummus, pita bread, and water.

The food and beverage prices are very reasonable, especially the Greek plates. JCP does a nice job of allowing fans to venture out into the courtyard. Not only does this improve pedestrian flow should JCP entertain a good sized crowd, but access to the courtyard also allows fans a chance to step outside and mingle among each other while soaking in the scenery amidst the nice Southern California weather.

If there is one minor drawback, the foyer and courtyard, located in the south end of the arena where fans enter, are the only locations where food can be purchased.

Atmosphere 3

Contributing to the atmosphere is the aesthetic appeal that JCP offers the moment one steps inside the building as fans walk through one of the more impressive foyers leading into the seating area.

Though it may be one of the more aesthetically pleasing college venues you may have a chance to visit, even when packed the fans don’t quite provide that intimidation factor that you would find at let’s say, Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Though the USD basketball program can produce a respectable team every now and then, the feeling you get among those in attendance is that the visiting team is as much responsible for the big turnout, a fact not lost among both the locals and the team as well.

Neighborhood 3

The USD campus is located close to several points of interest such as Old Town, Fashion Valley Mall, Mission Valley, Old Town, Mission, and Pacific Beach and Downtown. If you have some free time during the day and feel like exploring the city, chances are you won’t be too far removed from the campus.

Fans 3

With top-ranked Gonzaga in town, JCP would be filled to capacity for the 15th time during its existence. Though the home team would be totally outmanned on this evening, the enthusiasm of the fans, particularly the students behind the north basket close to the visitors’ bench, would not be dampened, even “playfully” heckling certain visiting players in spite of the home 5 trailing huge deep into the 2nd half.

Access 3

On most nights, access to the JCP requires little to no effort. But on that occasion when the JCP is filled to capacity, you will want to give yourself some ample time if you hope to arrive by the opening tip-off.

To enter the JCP you will be walking up a hill. If a good-sized crowd is projected, it is possible that you will be standing in a long beeline along a narrow sidewalk before you arrive at the entrance.

Once you do arrive at the top, you will be rewarded by walking through a huge courtyard, which is used for fans to mingle during the game should they decide to step out. The courtyard, with its tranquil scenery highlighted by a fountain that beautifully blends in with the surrounding architecture, makes for a great halftime destination.

As you enter the arena, you will be walking through a very impressive foyer, highlighted by its arches, tiled floor, ceiling design, and light fixtures. Inside the foyer are displays highlighting some of USD’s great athletic moments as well as its former players who made significant contributions to the program.

Inside the arena spacious walkway circles throughout the entire seating bowl, allowing fans to roam without missing any of the action.

Return on Investment 3

Single game tickets prices start at $8 for youth baseline, $14-$16 for baseline or sideline seats. Premium game tickets can range from $25-$40 for BYU and Gonzaga.

The price for even the premium games particularly Gonzaga is actually not bad when compared to other upper-level collegiate venues.

Extras 3

Inside the JCP there are two boards, one on each end that provides the fans live in-game action as well as replays, player stats and of course the score. I bring this up because most small venues only provide one board, which, depending on a fan’s desire to look at stats and replays, can be an inconvenience depending on their seating location.

The 16th century Spanish Renaissance look to the JCP blends in really nicely with the buildings throughout campus. USD’s hillside location in Alcala Park also provides nice views overlooking Mission Bay.

The Torero program has now participated in the NCAA Tournament four times. A banner above the USD team bench commemorates 1984, 1987, 2003, and 2008 seasons. The most recent appearance in 2008 even saw the school reach the second round. The Toreros would be the first collegiate program in San Diego to advance past the first round of the NCAA Tournament, which may come as a surprise to some given San Diego State’s recent run of tournament appearances under Steve Fisher.

Final Thoughts

Though it is likely you will be occupied with other activities in America’s Finest City prior to the game, if you have some other free time on your hands, take the time to walk around campus and take in some of the other 16th Century Spanish designed architecture, as well as the scenic views overlooking Mission Bay.

If you have an opportunity to visit a West Coast Conference venue in Southern California, if you are a diehard college hoops fan, seize the opportunity to do it. Some of the more underrated and more economical collegiate basketball experiences can be found in such venues in Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, and USD. Like with many programs without the deep history, you just never know if you’re witnessing a future “Cinderella” in the making.

Got any other thoughts? Questions? Reach me on my Twitter @Good_Drei. Also, follow my Facebook page Drei’s Stadium Journeys.

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