- Andrei Ojeda
Bren Events Center – UC Irvine Anteaters
Photos by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Bren Events Center 100 Bren Event Center Dr Irvine, CA 92612
Year Opened: 1987
The Bren Center, which officially opened in 1988, is a nice intimate venue that serves as the home to many of UC Irvine’s athletic programs. This small, non-descript venue holds just under 5,000 for basketball, guaranteeing that no matter where you are seated, you will never be far away from the action. Upon arriving to The Bren, a statue of an anteater is located just outside the arena’s southeast entrance.
A catchphrase that one will hear a lot on game nights, particularly after a made free throw, is Zot Zot, used from the comic strip B.C.
Food & Beverage 3
Nothing beyond your usual arena basics. Your options…
Hot Dogs, Chili Dogs, Bratwurst, Foot Long Hot Dogs $5-$7.50
Chicken Sandwich $8.50
Nachos $5/Deluxe Nachos $7.50
Theatre Candy $4.50
Churros, Salted/Cinnamon Pretzel $4.50
Pepsi products $4-$5
Hot Chocolate $3.50
Bottled water $3.50/Gatorade $4.50
Domestic beer and wine $8/Craft beer $9
In this non-descript venue, don’t expect to be overwhelmed by a huge history of national title banners hanging from the rafters or exhibits honoring famous alumni. The Bren Center does honor the university’s athletic accomplishments, both team and individual wise. On the north end of the arena, you will see a display of banners that honor each athletic team’s national championships. On the other end of the Bren in the concourse, an athletic Hall of Fame can be seen honoring famous UCI athletes.
Not far from the Bren is the University Center. Tender Greens, Chick-fil-A, Blaze Pizza, Chipotle, and Taco Bell are some of your pre and postgame dining options at the University Center, as well as the SoCal favorite, In-N-Out.
Not far from campus in Newport Beach is Fashion Island, offering a more extensive restaurant selection from both fast food to casual.
Coming off a March Madness run that saw their Anteaters advance to the 2nd round, a near capacity crowd was out in force.
Throughout the night, chants of “Let’s Go Eaters” and “Zot Zot” can be heard especially after each successful free throw. “Zot Zot” is a rally cry used among the UCI Anteater faithful based on the comic strip B.C., in which the anteaters tongue makes this sound. The comic strip and the university have developed a strong bond over the years.
UCI is conveniently located near several freeways, particularly the 405, 73, 55 and 5. Several Orange County Transit Authority bus lines run by the campus, including line 79, which has a stop by The Bren. Otherwise, most of the bus lines lay over by the University Center.
Atop the seating bowl is a walkway where fans can roam without missing any of the action. There is also an outdoor patio for those who want some fresh air or to go out and stretch.
Return on Investment 3
With ticket prices starting at $11 for General Admission and as much as $28, UCI basketball is a good bargain that won’t put a hole in your pocket. The small size of The Bren Center means that you will never be far away from the action. The Bren does not offer much in terms of frills so don’t expect anything to distract you from the game.
In the outdoor patio is a beer garden as well as jenga and cornhole games to keep fans occupied before tipoff. Flatscreen TV’s are also provided in the patio to view other college and NBA games.
Outside the entrance is a statue of the anteater, which makes for a nice central meeting spot should you be attending with others while arriving separately. The statue is a favorite picture spot for fans as well. Below the statue is a plaque that tells you how UCI received its nickname.
Speaking of the anteater, Peter the Anteater is the school’s official mascot and one of the more unique and playful ambassador’s that is a true face of the university. A photo op with Peter should not be passed up.
The UCI program has had some recent connections from the NBA. Max Hazzard, last season’s Big West tournament MVP, is the grandson of former NBA star Walt Hazzard. Colin Welp is the son of Christian Welp, and Jeron Artest is the son of, yup, Ron Artest, known these days as Metta World Peace.
The Anteaters of UC Irvine are coming off one of their most successful tournament runs in school history. On the heels of last season’s March Madness run that saw them advance to the second round, the furthest in school history, the Anteaters once again find themselves in a run toward another NCAA post-season berth.
If you’re looking to watch a college program that can once again be one of those teams that puts the Madness in to the month of March, a trip to the Bren Center can be worth your while..