Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center Not Worthy of Big Ten Basketball

Paul SwaneySenior Analyst IMarch 4, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 13:  Stanley Pringle #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions dribbles the ball against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 13, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Illionis won 64-63. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It’s clear when you arrive at the Bryce Jordan Center that you are in football country.

I like that the Nittany Lions have created an opportunity for their fans to be basketball fans.

Similar to Michigan State, the students are center court, but they are still trying to find their sustainability. Success can certainly breed that sort of fanaticism that makes a place special.

In the meantime, parking is close, free and plentiful. I would like to see a seating upgrade under one basket where they offer stackable chairs rather than permanent seats. You get the feeling that this is a program entering its teenage years, and I look forward to seeing them mature to adulthood.


FANFARE Score: 18 (out of 35)

Food & Beverage: 3

There are plenty of concession stands inside the Bryce Jordan Center, so you should be able to find something to nibble on. Burgers, chicken fingers, pizza and ice cream are all good choices. You won’t find anything that will blow you away, but you don’t have to leave hungry.


Atmosphere: 2

The venue feels big, and the fans have trouble filling it up. With the team not delivering the excitement to make up for the lack of energy, spectators are left feeling somewhat empty from the experience.

The University has done a good job of placing the student section down near the floor, so there is the potential for this to turn into a true home team advantage.

Because Bryce Jordan is meant to host music events just as much as basketball games, it has an elongated seating structure.

The result is stackable chairs at the ends that make for uncomfortable seating, as well as a feeling that the arena is not as intimate as it could be if it were a basketball-only venue.


Neighborhood: 3

It was difficult to judge the town as many stores, restaurants and bars were closed on a Sunday afternoon. I found one bar that I really loved—Zeno’s.

Any bar where you have to take the stairs below street level is usually a good thing, and although the bartenders seemed apathetic to non-regulars (tourists like myself), the beer selection makes up for any perceived slight.


I can also recommend Phyrst, which is a bar with some character. They offer live music and a good drink selection.


Fans: 2

I found the fan experience to be highly disappointing. Not only are the students in a position where they could be a factor in the outcome of games, but the alumni and other fans are hardly noticeable.

Like I said, this is clearly football country, and basketball is just a distraction until the fall.


Access: 5

One piece of good news is that Bryce Jordan is located near Beaver Stadium, meaning that parking is both plentiful and free. Free parking next to the stadium is always a good thing.

Additionally, getting in and out is a breeze since games don’t tend to be highly attended.

Restrooms are also easily accessed, and the stadium in general is easy to get around.


Return on Investment: 2

Games aren’t overly expensive, and parking is free. So if you’re just a college basketball junkie, and you live nearby, then this may be a good option.

For me, this just wasn’t worth the time and cost it took to travel there, and I can’t recommend making the trip to the casual fan.


Etc: 1

When I attended in February 2009, the Phillies’ World Series trophy was in the house, as was the Phillie Phanatic. That piece of good fortune was certainly worth an extra point in my book.

Paul Swaney is the Co-Founder of Stadium Journey.


Review originally published on