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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

Pan American Center - New Mexico State Aggies WBB

Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Pan American Center 1810 University Ave Las Cruces, NM 88003

Year Opened: 1968 Capacity: 12,573



Pan American Center is home to New Mexico State men’s and women’s Aggie basketball and volleyball. The arena hosts various other events throughout the year.  The building is celebrating 56 years; it has had several renovations since it first opened in 1968. It sits proudly on the New Mexico State University campus in Las Cruces, NM.

The New Mexico State women’s basketball team began playing in the 1973-74 season at the Activity Center.  They moved to the Pan Am Center at the beginning of the 1976-77 season and have been playing there since.  The team won the WAC championship in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019.  They have been to the NCAA Tournament six times.  The Aggies became a member of C*USA (Conference USA) in 2023.

Spending a few hours at a women’s Aggie basketball game is enjoyable, fun, and entertaining. It’s well worth the visit.

Food & Beverage 3

The arena offers basic stadium fare, enough for a snack during a game.  Sausage and hot dogs, nachos, and popcorn cost $6.  Snacks like churros, jumbo pretzels, Cracker Jack, candy, and pickles run $3 - $5. 

Pepsi sodas run $6/$7.  Gatorade and bottled water cost $5.  Domestic beers and raspberry margaritas in a can are for sale as well.

Fans can get a combo hot dog, chips, and fountain drink for $9.   The nachos seem to be the favorite item of choice for fans.

Atmosphere 5

Aggies women’s basketball does a tremendous job at providing a safe, entertaining, pleasurable game day experience. 

Fans enter the seating area and either travel down to the first level of 25 rows of seats or up to a second level.  A walkway is between the two levels.  At the game I went to, the second level was closed off, and it looks like the university is replacing the chair backs and seats in that level. 

The seating consists of red plastic fold-down stadium seats (no cup holders) on all four sides of the court.  It includes two levels on the court sidelines and one level behind each basket.  The Jag and Linda Cheema Suites fill out an area behind one of the end zones.   

The arena has a nice-looking court with light and dark wood and the NM Aggies logo in the center.  Lots of banners (championship, NCAA tournament appearances, retired numbers) hang from the ceiling.  Photos of outstanding Aggie athletes line the upper outer concourse walls.

The venue has a clear, crisp center-hung scoreboard over the courts which shows a video of the game, the score, which team has possession of the ball, time left of the quarter, and more.  The end zones both have scores displayed as well.

Besides the game, the organization offers plenty of other entertainment.  A passionate pep band plays often.  Lovely! Wonderful!  And a small dance squad cheers on the team.  The players descend the arena’s stairs to get to the court before introductions and the beginning of the second half.  Other activities include t-shirt tosses, the YMCA dance, a young children’s dance club performing at half-time, dance cams over the video scoreboard, and more.

The team has a phenomenal announcer who calls substitutions, who scored a basket, the play on the court, fouls, etc. in a clear, understandable voice.  All this is done without extraneous music played at the same time.  The Aggies baseball game day operations should take lessons from their women’s basketball counterparts.

The announcer calls “Out of bound – Aggie Ball!”  The crowd responds with “Aggie Ball!”  It’s a chuckle full of fun.  Believe me-- it’s much more entertaining when you’re there than can be described in words.  It puts a smile on your face, and you just can’t help but participate.

The temperature in the arena is comfortable.  A long-sleeved t-shirt suffices. Finally, the music volume is perfect as you can converse with your neighbor without yelling.

Neighborhood 4

The Pan Am Center is near the other on-campus NM State Athletic fields in Las Cruces, NM.  Plenty of restaurants and hotels are within 1 – 2 miles of the arena. 

Ten or more restaurants (including fast food) are along University Ave from I-10 to the arena:  I-Hop, Burger King, Panda Express, and Chick-fil-A.  The Game Sports Bar and Grill is a decent pregame place to visit for a beer and a bite.  Weck’s, an NM breakfast/lunch chain, is a worthwhile visit before an afternoon game. 

Other things to see and do when visiting Las Cruces include the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum about three miles from Pan Am Center.  The Museum of Science and Nature or the Las Cruces Railroad Museum may also be worth a visit, depending on your interests.  Of course, a visit to see the world’s largest chile pepper may be in order, too!

Plenty of hotels are near the university.  The closest are the Hilton Garden Inn Las Cruces, Comfort Suites University, and Sleep Inn University.   A whole slew more is within two–three miles of Pan Am Center.

Other sports in the area are the Aggies baseball team and the men’s basketball team.  A trip to El Paso, TX (a 45-minute drive) will take you to the El Paso Chihuahuas, AAA minor league baseball affiliate of the San Diego Padres. 


Fans 2

Fans of Aggies basketball include students, alumni, families, and others.  The arena is not full for women’s basketball games.  So far this 2023-2024 season, average attendance is 681. This surprises me as it’s such an enjoyable time.  Attendance increases as the season draws closer to spring.

Besides playing tunes, the pep band dances, hops, cheers, spins, and fully encourages the players on the court.  It is fantastic to see such enthusiasm. 

Access 3

Getting to the Pan Am Center is an easy drive off I-10.  Plenty of free parking surrounds the east and south sides of the arena.  Handicapped parking is available, as are accessible seats.  Check here for more information on accessible features at the arena.

Las Cruces does have a bus stop (Aggie Green), but it looks as if it’s operational only Monday-Friday, 7 am – 6 pm, so it may not be suitable for use when attending a game.  Las Cruces Airport is 12+ miles from the university.

The venue has a little plaza area with benches outside the ticket office.  It’s a nice place to wait for friends.  The ticket office is a separate building with polite staff manning the booths.

Clear bags 12” x 6” 12” are allowed, as are small clutches. Pan Am Center has plenty of clean restrooms on the concourse level.

Return on Investment 4

Attending an Aggies women’s basketball game is well worth the price.  They charge only $7 for general admission (you sit wherever you want).  The parking is free.  Food prices are less than in other D1 schools.

The university offers an Aggie Country Pass which, for one price ($140 adult, $80 senior, $70 NM State faculty) allows entry to all NM State home soccer, volleyball, women's basketball, baseball, and softball games.  This may be the way to go if you plan on seeing lots of games.  I’ve seen this type of package at other colleges but at far lower prices. 


Extras 3

The fabulous PA announcer deserves an extra mention.  Fans can easily keep score of the game just based on his announcement.

The stunning court floor is pleasing to the eye and makes an attractive addition to the arena.

All the NM State banners and photos displayed provide visitors with the vast athletic accomplishments the university has produced. 

Final Thoughts

Attending an Aggies women’s basketball game is a delightful few hours of entertainment and is well worth your sports dollar investment.  It deserves to be more popular than it currently is.


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