Xfinity Center – Maryland Terrapins (MBB)
Photos by Jared Goodman, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
Xfinity Center 2001 Paint Branch Dr College Park, MD 20740
Year Opened: 2002
Fear The Turtle
Tucked away in the suburbia of Washington, DC is the vibrant college town of, you guessed it, College Park. The pulse of the city is the University of Maryland, the flagship institution of the UM system and home to the adored Terrapins. During the winter months, the Terps men’s basketball team takes over the town, picking up where the football squad left off.
Food & Beverage 4
The offerings at Xfinity Center are actually pretty basic, as it’s the standard fare that you’d expect from any other venue in the country.
Entrées include pork bbq sandwiches ($10), hot dogs ($4), pizza slices ($5.50), chicken strip baskets ($10), falafels ($9), hamburgers ($9), and chicken sandwiches ($6.50). You can also grab a snack or two, including french fries ($5), medium popcorn ($5), soft pretzels ($4), chips ($3.50), nachos ($5.50), and more.
As far as refreshments, you can grab a medium Pepsi soda ($3.75), a premium draft beer ($10), a canned beer ($8), or a bottle of water ($4).
The interior of the arena is quite impressive, with a quirky entrance area and concourse. There’s plenty of stairs to unique cubbies and hidden trophy cases, which is just a small part of the huge exhibits that showcase Maryland basketball history.
There are tons of artifacts pertaining to the Terps, even going back to their days in the ACC and at historic Cole Field House. The Field House was perhaps most well-known for being the location of the all-black Texas Western’s stunning championship upset of Kentucky. A piece of center court from this venerable venue is fittingly on display at the Xfinity Center.
The arena was designed to feel intimate, as every seat seems to be right on top of the action. This creates a great home court advantage for the Terps, and is of great value to the fans who get a fantastic view of the action no matter where they sit. On the logistical side, the building is relatively simple to navigate, albeit a somewhat bland and unoriginal aesthetic.
One unique tradition of note is the unfurling of two pieces of a giant Maryland flag over the student section during the game. As the flag waves over “The Wall”, a historical montage set to the tune of the theme song of 2001: A Space Odyssey plays on the jumbotron.
The Xfinity Center is smack in the middle of campus, surrounded by all the typical state college environs. This isn’t exactly ideal for fans looking to pre- or post-game in the area, but if you’re truly looking to make a day out of a Maryland basketball game – the nation’s capital is essentially at your feet. Downtown Washington, DC is only a 30-minute train ride from College Park.
It’s probably not desirable to walk to what little is available in close proximity to the arena, but there are several chain restaurants and stores on nearby US 1, which runs just east of campus. Looney’s Pub, a sports bar, is a popular spot for Terps fans.
The same principle also goes for hotels – while there are many in the College Park area and the other DC suburbs in Maryland, none (bar two) are within walking distance. The Hotel at The University of Maryland and the College Park Marriott are the only two lodging options you can reach on foot.
Maryland has one of the best home court advantages in all of college basketball. This is a by-product of “The Wall”, an immense 4,000 seat portion of the arena that’s packed by UM students and built at an intimidating 35-degree incline. Visitors to Xfinity Center are often rocked by the arena’s unique architecture, as this screaming student section appears to be practically on top of the court.
These rabid fans are also known for their unique tradition of rustling newspapers. Surely this is a tradition you won’t find elsewhere in the sport: during opposing player introductions, the students viciously shake and pretend to read the school paper, feigning disinterest.
Additionally, the fans (who are mostly residents of the Baltimore-Washington region) ensure to exclaim “O” when “O’ say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave” is sung during the national anthem. It’s a BW area tradition that can be attributed to MLB’s Baltimore Orioles, also known as the O’s.
Parking near the arena is at a premium, as it’s typically reserved for students and season ticket holders, but there are other options for casual fans. Parking permits for the Stadium Drive Garage must be purchased online prior to game day, and will run you $15. If you want to try your hand at free parking, Lot 1 near the Field Hockey complex is available at no-charge and is a short 10-minute walk to the arena, though it fills up quickly.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of driving, public transit is also an option. The College Park Metro station is about 2 miles from the arena, which translates to a 40-minute walk or a lightning fast Uber ride.
College Park is a few miles north of the District of Columbia, and is conveniently located off the Capital Beltway (I-495), the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and Interstate 95.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to a Terps game can cost you a pretty penny depending on the opponent. For Big 10 conference games, prices fluctuate greatly. They can skyrocket if the visiting team is ranked, or if Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, or Purdue are in town; they can plummet if it’s a non-conference game against, say, Tennessee Tech. There’s really no telling what you can anticipate to fork over for a pair of tickets.
Parking is free if you play it right, but will usually run you $15. Concessions will cost around $15 per person, so a family of four is looking at around $75 for a night in College Park, ticket prices not included.
The Xfinity Center deserves an extra point for its incredible intimacy and outrageous student section that rivals Duke’s Cameron Crazies. Another point is deserved for the immense amount of Terps history that’s preserved within the arena’s walls, including many trophies from multiple sports at UM. A final point for the unique newspaper and flag traditions – both of these customs truly give Xfinity Center its own personality.
Whether it’s bringing a newspaper to rustle pre-game, or spying Testudo riling up the fans, you’re bound to have a fun-filled exciting game day experience at Maryland’s Xfinity Center. While it’s not considered a must-visit for college basketball die-hards, the great atmosphere in College Park shouldn’t be missed.