Boise State vs. San Diego State: Experiencing Viejas Arena as a Visiting Fan

Chris drives down to San Diego, goes to the Mesa and recaps the game at Viejas for the first time in true enemy territory.

Thank goodness for late start times.

Driving down to San Diego and hitting rush hour traffic, made the 8 p.m. start time that much better. I had gone to Viejas once before, but that was for a non-conference game as a bystander, rather that an intense conference game as a diehard fan. Picking up the tickets and the family member who had the season tickets, we drove up to Montezuma Mesa early so we could take our time.

Viejas Arena is situated on top of the historic Aztec Bowl which was built in 1936. Being that the Aztec Bowl couldn't be torn down since it is on the National Register of Historic Places list, the new Arena was built on top, with the ground floor being where part of the football field used to be. This is only the base of Viejas Arena's unique nature. The grounds are set up so that the outside of the arena is where to get concessions and memorabilia and the inside is for watching only. This sets up a sort of carnival-like environment on the outside.

Here, like PETCO Park (where the Padres play), not only do you get your typical "stadium food" but you're also treated to local establishments. I personally went to Belinda's Cocina for a burrito, and really got spoiled: they did a half and half burrito with Chipotle Chicken and Verde Chili Pork (all for $7 mind you). No need for salsa here, the flavor was delicious and spicy.

We got to our seats and then I walked around for a little bit during warmups. The Show was surprisingly nice to me and one member even posed for a picture. Then, it was gametime:

The intensity started as the game began. J.J. O'Brien and James Rahon led the way in the first half with 10 and 11 points respectively, as 12,000+ fans were creating a near deafening atmosphere. Up 34-17 with a little under 6 minutes, the Broncos started charging back to pull it to 38-28 at halftime.

Of course halftime means snack time, and there's nothing that screams "snack" more than ice cream. Just inside the arena, they have little Coldstone stands with the specials mixes (like the Oreo Overload I had) pre-made. Sure Coldstone isn't local, but it's ice cream.

The beginning of the second half brought a little hostility. After a Tapley jumper to make it 40-28, Derrick Marks began his scoring streak. I got a little more brave in the second half as well. With Jamaal Franklin at the line, and the arena dead silent, I yelled "MISSSSSSSSS!" and the FT was missed. Aztec fans behind me started cursing at me while other Boise State fans around me - all 10-20 of them -- turned their head away. I kept it up though, which proved to be useful and annoying. With a Marks three to put the Broncos ahead, I got a lot more grief thrown my way.

With 19.2 seconds left in the game, SDSU forced a costly turnover which they converted for two. Down by one, they went ahead and fouled Marks. With The Show at his front, being as rambunctious as possible, he sank the first and missed the second. The Aztecs, down 62-60 marched up the court, with Franklin slipping, the ball falling out of his hands and conveniently rolling to Tapley who punched in the 3, with 2.8 seconds. A shot by Thompson bounced off the rim (which wouldn't have counted anyway since he released it just a hair too late) and I was being yelled at in my ear by overjoyed 'Tec fans (the ones who were left anyway). I shared handshakes with the courteous fans who were cussing me out 15 minutes earlier and it was all over.

Viejas Arena:

Pros:

  • Unique Design every seat being a good seat
  • Affordable
  • Likes to use local city tastes as part of the environment
  • The Show influences the crowd

Cons

  • Difficult to find if you don't know where you're going
  • Many fans attend in typical SD fashion (arrive on time or slightly late, leave early)

Overall Grade: A-

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