Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wolstein Center, Cleveland OH

Basic Information
Team: Cleveland State University Vikings (Horizon League)
Game: Vikings vs Butler University-2/11/2012
Team Website:
Ticket Information: (216) 687-4848
Tourism Information: (888) 246-4459 or
Online Broadcasts: WHKW-AM 1220
Local Newspaper: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Team Information: Cleveland State University has been playing intercollegiate basketball since 1929, when the school, then known as Fenn College, went 5-5 in it's first campaign. In 1965, Fenn was renamed Cleveland State University, and it's sports teams changed from the Foxes to the more intimidating Vikings. CSU's most memorable mens' basketball season to date was the 1985-86 campaign, when the Vikings, under coach Kevin Mackey, went 29-4 for the season, which included a major shocker in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when CSU, a fourteen seed, upset the highly favored Indiana Hoosiers 83-79. The Vikings would advance to the "Sweet Sixteen" that year, but the ride would end there when they were defeated by Navy.

Affiliation: Cleveland State is a member of the Horizon League.

Arena Capacity: The Wolstein Center has a full capacity of 13,610, but in the seating configuration that the Vikings currently use, the arena seats approximately 8,500.

How About That Name (And Some History): Opened on November 1, 1992, CSU Convocation Center was constructed for the cost of $55 million, and until the opening of Ohio State's Schottenstein Center, was the largest university-owned arena in the state of Ohio. In addition to being the home of Cleveland State's men's and women's basketball teams, the arena has hosted rodeos, concerts, professional wrestling, and from 1992 through 2005, professional indoor soccer with the Cleveland Crunch and Cleveland Force.

The building was renamed the Wolstein Center on January 1, 2005 when it was renamed in honor of Bart and Iris Wolstein. Bart Wolstein was a prominent local lawyer and businessman. The new name of the arena did not sit well with many long-time Cleveland soccer fans, as Wolstein was the owner of the original Cleveland Force, who were unceremoniously folded by the Wolstein family in July 1988.
On The Town: Located on America's "North Coast", Cleveland is a city that is reinventing itself. No longer is it the capital of the "Rust Belt", Cleveland now features an new skyline, increased industry, world class sporting facilities, and of course, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Cleveland metropolitan area has a population of 396,815, making it the 45th largest city in the United States. Three major interstate highways service Cleveland: Interstates 71 and 77 run south out of downtown, and Interstate 90 connects the city to points east and west.

Cleveland got it's name on July 22, 1976, when a group surveying the area called the Western Reserve, named the main city "Cleaveland" after the groups' leader, General Moses Cleaveland. Ironically, after supervising the layout and design of the new city, Cleaveland went back to his home of Connecticut, never to return.

Cleveland became a transportation and manufacturing hub in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. With the completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal, coal and iron ore flowed through the lakefront, and Cleveland quickly became one of the largest cities in the country. In 1870, John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil in Cleveland, and would become one of the richest men in the United States.

Alan Freed, a well-known DJ on Cleveland's WJW-AM, coined the term "rock and roll" for the new popular music craze in the fifties. Fifty years later, Cleveland is now the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which was opened on the lakefront in 1995.
Well-known Cleveland natives include comedian Drew Carey, former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, actors Paul Newman and Arsenio Hall, and James H. Garfield, the 20th president of the United States.

Getting There: From I-77, exit at the E 14th/E 22nd St exit, and follow signs towards E 22nd St. Make a left onto E 22nd St, then follow to arena, which will be on the left.

Nearby Airport: Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is located approximately twenty minutes southwest of the Wolstein Center.

What To Do: The aforementioned Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is probably the most popular tourist destination in C-Town. Located on the lakefront, approximately a mile from the Wolstein Center, it was designed by famed architect I.M. Pei and rises over 170 feet over Lake Erie. With over 150,000 square feet of exhibit space over seven floors, the Rock Hall houses thousands of pieces of rock memorabilia spanning the entire history of the genre. The top floor includes the "hallowed ground" in which the inductees are honored, with their signatures etched in glass and back lit for dramatic effect. For more information, visit

Where To Eat Before The Game: A two block walk north of the Wolstein Center on Euclid Avenue is the Rascal House, one of Cleveland's best pizzerias. A frequent haunt of CSU students, the Rascal House features pizza, wings, as well as a full bar. For more information, call (216) 781-6784 or visit
Where To Stay: There are many large "chain" hotels in the downtown Cleveland area, but these tend to run on the expensive side. For more economical choices, check in the Independence area (15 minutes from the arena) or near the airport.

Ticket Prices: Vikings tickets are priced as follows: $25.00 (lower center), $15.00 (lower baseline), $10.00 (lower corners), $10.00 (upper center), $8.00 (upper end zone).

Parking: There is a large covered parking structure immediately adjacent to the Wolstein Center which costs $6.00 per car.

The Good Seats: Having spent more than a little time at the Wolstein Center when it was the home of indoor soccer in Cleveland, I can say that all of the seats give a good view. I sat in the upper end zone for this game, and it was a very good vantage point.

Getting In: The main entrance of the Wolstein Center is located on the Prospect Ave side of the arena also is the location of the box office.

Arena Food: Sadly, since my last visit, the Wolstein Center seems to have had a downgrade in the food selection and quality. There isn't really a "signature" item, and while the prices aren't too bad, the quality is seriously lacking.
The Saturday game I attended was "Dollar Dog" day. While the price was right, the dog itself left something to be desired. It was definitely pre-made, and had been sitting for a while. When it was presented to me, the wiener was only lukewarm, and in a soggy and mangled bun. Taste-wise, I've had a lot better. I also had an order of french fries, which weren't too bad, but could have been served a lot hotter.

A hot dog specialty stand is available as well as a pizza stand.

Here is a sampling of the Wolstein Center's concession prices:

Hot Dog: $4.00   Hamburger: $7.00   Nachos: $5.00   Draft Beer: $6.00   Pretzel: $3.00   Large Soda: $5.00   French Fries: $3.00    

Soft Drinks: Pepsi products are served at the Wolstein Center.

ATM: An ATM (I didn't get the brand) is available in the concourse of the arena.

Souvenirs: A souvenir stand is set up on the concourse near the main entrance. The Vikings have a good sized line of merchandise at decent prices.
Restrooms: Restrooms are liberally located on the arena concourse and are fairly clean and well stocked.

Mascot: "Vike" the Viking is pretty lively, but spends most of his time at floor level.

Dance Team: CSU features the Vikings co-ed cheerleading team as well as the Lady Vikings dance team. Both are featured prominently during the game.

Program: A complimentary roster sheet is handed to fans as they enter the building. The CSU basketball yearbook (featuring both men's and women's teams), is sold at the merchandise stand for $2.00.

Scoreboard/Arena Voice:  The Wolstein Center has a scoreboard located on each corner of the building. Two feature the pertinent game information and the other two have large video boards. The video boards are eight years old, and the picture quality isn't the best. The game data boards are large and are easy to read.
The PA voice is good the building has excellent acoustics. The CSU pep band provides a good musical accompaniment to the action.

Arena Staff: Everyone was pretty laid back and fairly helpful and friendly.

Atmosphere: Despite the poor weather and 11AM tipoff, the crowd of about five thousand was quite lively and into the game, especially when the Vikings made their second half comeback.

Overall: If you're looking for an inexpensive, low-stress day out, a CSU Vikings basketball game is a great way to enjoy downtown Cleveland. I would just recommend eating before you get there.