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  • Writer's pictureAndrei Ojeda

Maples Pavilion - Stanford Cardinal

Photos by Andrei, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Maples Pavilion 655 Campus Dr Stanford, CA 94305

Year Opened: 1969

Capacity: 7,392


Hoopin’ It Up at The Farm

Built in 1969, Maples Pavilion has been home to the Stanford men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as the women’s volleyball team. Maples underwent a $30 million renovation in 2004 and currently hold 7,392 spectators.

Now in its 50th year of operation, Maples Pavilion is named in honor of Oregon lumber magnate Roscoe W. Maples. Upon his death in 1963, Maples bequeathed most of his $2 million estate to the university. A member of the class of 1904, he left school before graduating to support his parents, and later went on to succeed in the lumber business.

In that time, the Cardinal made 16 NCAA Tournament appearances, reaching the Final Four in 2004 as well as producing future NBA brother tandems of Jarron and Jason Collins and Brook and Robin Lopez.

Food & Beverage 4

Maples Pavilion has a very diverse food menu for a venue its size. At “Cardinal Fast Break” you’ll find a chicken Caesar and turkey cheddar wrap as well as a Bavarian pretzel or a spinach/feta pretzel. For those coming in from the wintery Northern California elements, Vietnamese soup, Pho, with your choice of chicken or vegetarian, is also available.

The standard hot dogs as well as grilled brats, polish pork sausage, and campus classics farm burgers and axe burgers are available at the “From The Farm For The Farm” stand.

Sweet treats range from French beignets, cotton candy, Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars, kettle corn, and chocolate chip cookies.

Coke product beverages as well as Dasani bottled water are the beverage options, with beverages also available in a 32 oz commemorative cup at a reasonable $7. California Pizza Kitchen stands are also on site but not operable due to a lack of attendance.

Atmosphere 3

Maples Pavilion is split into an upper and lower level. The lower level is made up of assigned chair back seats except for one sideline which is the risers in which the student section stands. The sidelines in the upper level are assigned bench seating while the endlines are general admission bench seating.

Banners celebrating the athletic program's national titles and other vast accomplishments including the team’s March Madness appearances are placed throughout the walls in each corner.

Because of the small capacity, you’ll never be far from the action. When packed, the place can be loud. Unfortunately, on most nights, the place is rarely filled and at times can make for a hollow feel.

Neighborhood 4

The closest shopping and dining options are across the El Camino Real in the Town & Country Village. One of the more popular options is Gott’s Roadside which has excellent food but is very crowded during peak times. There are also specialty stores if you like to shop.

Downtown Palo Alto is just a few blocks beyond the Town & Country Village. The Stanford Shopping Center features more shops and restaurants to check out. Palo Alto is a very affluent community and the downtown reflects that.

The most popular sports bars are The Old Pro and The Patio. They have similar options for food and drink but The Patio offers outdoor seating and The Old Pro seems a bit more college-centric.

Fans 3

The crowd is a mix of demographics and is a great outing for families looking for an affordable, accessible basketball option. Most of the fans stay engaged and cheer on the Cardinal at appropriate times.

Like with any fan base, team performance can dictate what type of fans will be at the games.

Because the Cardinal has not exactly been a Top 25 team as of late, as well as its distance from San Francisco and San Jose, where most of their alumnus reside, Maples Pavilion has not exactly been packed to the rafters as in recent times.

It is not uncommon to see a lot of youth groups in attendance on any given night. Though a kind gesture and a great way to establish continual ties with the community, one should not expect a rabid presence that contributes to a true home-court advantage.

Access 4

Stanford sits between two major freeways (101 and 280) and along the thoroughfare El Camino Real. During rush hour the drive to Palo Alto along the vehicle-heavy peninsula is troubled by severe traffic. An alternative to arriving at Maples Pavilion is the Caltrain, the Bay Area’s commuter train that travels to points between San Francisco and San Jose. Palo Alto Station is the station located closest to the venue with a campus shuttle available during weekdays.

The main drag in Palo Alto is the El Camino Real and it runs north/south from just south of San Francisco to San Jose. From El Camino Real you take Galvez St into campus and make a left onto Campus Drive. Parking is available across the street in parking structure 7. Street parking is available on evenings and weekends in Palo Alto.

When entering the pavilion, you can enter through three of the four corners and end up in wide, spacious corridors. You can walk around the interior building and can enter your section number. When you find your section, you walk up into the interior and then either up again to the upper level or back down to the lower level.

Return on Investment 4

General admission tickets to most games, including rivals Cal, UCLA, and Arizona start at $15. I have to believe this is due in large part to the recent lackluster play throughout the entire Pac-12 conference. Though GA’s at $15 are a great bargain, especially for a program like Stanford, be advised that seats directly behind the baskets will have an obstructed view of the overhanging basket supports that extend to the roof. While this may offer an old-school feel, the obstruction can be somewhat annoying.

Like any college athletic program in a major market, the product on the court is not the only source of entertainment for the locals, and with Stanford being a considerable commute for most along The Bay, getting fans to fill the seats can be difficult, leaving blocks of tickets available on any given night.

Extras 3

Going to a Stanford basketball game on The Farm can be a unique experience, if anything, for one reason…The Stanford Tree. Over the years, The Tree has had numerous variations and has made some newsworthy headlines along with the Stanford Band, albeit not always for the right reasons…

During the game, The Tree can be seen dancing and prancing along to tunes from the Stanford Band, ranging from classic rock to alternative. Both The Tree and the band offer an irreverent style of entertainment that’s mostly entertaining but at times can be offensive dependent on one’s point of view. Though the band and The Tree are likely to be at the game, because of their “reputation,” if they should be missing from that evening’s contest, there’s a great chance some “mischief” has been involved…

During the national anthem, the Stanford Dolls can be seen signing the anthem, a nice touch for the hearing-impaired fans.

Final Thoughts

From San Jose to San Francisco, the Bay Area is full of entertainment options. Stanford basketball is one of the more affordable options along the way. If you’re a college basketball fan, a trip to Maples should be on your to-do list. Though Maples does not offer the raucous atmosphere that a Duke basketball experience may offer, the experience here still has its unique qualities.

In addition, you get to be entertained throughout the game by the ever so irreverent Stanford Band along with their famous, or infamous Tree. It’s an experience that needs to be witnessed live at least once along your Stadium Journeys…

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