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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

CBU Events Center – California Baptist Lancers

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

CBU Events Center 8431 Diana Ave Riverside, CA 92504

Year Opened: 2017

Capacity: 5,050


Lance Up!

California Baptist University, one of the largest private Christian schools in southern California, was founded in 1950 in El Monte, California with an enrollment of 42 students. In 1955 the school relocated to its present location in what was then rural Riverside. Today CBU has a total enrollment of over 11,000 students at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels participating in over 80 major programs.

Basketball has been played at CBU since 1969, when the Lancers began play at the NAIA level. The school moved up to Division Two in 2010, competing in the Pacific West Conference. They qualified for the NCAA Tournament in five consecutive seasons from 2014-2018, reaching the Elite Eight in 2018. At the conclusion of that season CBU joined Division One and the Western Athletic Conference in all sports. The Lancers will be eligible for postseason tournaments in the 2022-2023 season.

The on-campus CBU Events Center opened in 2017 with a construction cost of $73 million. The facility serves as home to the men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as select volleyball and wrestling games. The facility also hosts CBU’s chapel program, orientation activities and commencement ceremonies.

Food & Beverage 3

There are three concession stands at CBU Event Center, one at the top of each staircase leading from the lobby and one on the far side of the arena. The menu hits all the expected notes at a smaller facility, with a few surprises thrown in.

In addition to arena standards hot dogs, chicken fingers and sausage sandwiches, fans can select a smoked brisket sandwich. Chick-fil-A sells their signature chicken sandwich which can be paired with their waffle fries. The portions of all items are large and the prices reasonable. In addition, every game features a “golden ticket” item which is priced at a discount.

Snacks include pretzels, popcorn, nachos and cotton candy. You can load your nachos with beef, cilantro, sour cream, onions and pico de gallo for an additional three dollars. Churros, roasted nuts and caramel corn are also available for fans looking for a snack.

Pepsi products are featured at the CBU Events Center. There is no alcohol sold at this on-campus facility.

Atmosphere 4

Fans at the CBU Events Center are into the action down on the court and while loud, are very polite and respectful. “Lance Up!” cheers, where fans hold up two fingers with their thumb extended (imagine you are making a gun with your hand and pointing it straight up into the air) happen whenever a Lancers player is at the free throw line. Giveaways, kiss cams, t-shirt tosses and other extracurricular activities keep even the most casual fan involved.

A large video board hangs at center court and is put to good use with game action, replays and stats. Ribbon boards that encircle the arena enhance the experience with more stats and sponsor ads.

Interestingly, the student section is not located beyond the end lines as in so many other venues, but along the sideline. The student body fills up the three sections along the far side of the arena along with the cheerleaders, dance squad and pep band. The students are active, standing throughout the game to cheer on their team.

Neighborhood 3

California Baptist University is located in Riverside, California in the heart of the Inland Empire metropolitan area. Located 55 miles from downtown Los Angeles, Riverside has a population of almost 304,000, making it the twelfth largest city in California. It gets its name from its location on the banks of the Santa Ana River.

The CBU campus is located in the Casa Blanca neighborhood just off of route 91. Visiting fans will find many dining and shopping options near the university, including the Galleria at Tyler and the Regal Riverside Plaza. Downtown Riverside contains many options for lodging and dining. The city is the birthplace of the California citrus industry and is home of the Mission Inn, the largest Mission Revival Style building in the United States.

For fans looking for other sporting options in the Inland Empire, the UC Riverside Highlanders play just up the road at the Student Recreation Center. The Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League and the Agua Caliente Clippers of the NBA G League both play at the Toyota Arena in nearby Ontario. Of course, greater Los Angeles has no shortage of options, both entertainment and sports related, located just an hour away.

Fans 4

Cal Baptist averaged almost 3,100 fans per game in 2018-19 as they continue to transition to Division One. This figure represents over a thirty percent increase over the previous season. The announced crowd for Stadium Journey’s visit was over 4,000. This is clearly a growing program.

Anchoring the crowd is a strong student section which fills an entire side of the arena. The rest of the crowd consists of locals, with a strong family presence and lots of younger fans in attendance.

Access 4

Cal Baptist is located right off the Riverside Freeway (Route 91) a short drive from Interstate 15 in Riverside, California. Los Angeles is located about 55 miles to the west. Riverside is far enough away from LA that you won’t have to deal with its legendary traffic, but still, give yourself some extra time to arrive, especially on a weekday. Fans using public transportation can take the Riverside Transit Agency’s Route One bus, which has several stops at CBU along Magnolia Street.

The Events Center is located on the eastern edge of campus. Visitors will be directed to the parking garage beside the main entrance to the facility. In front of this entrance is a large plaza, complete with a patio and a large statue of Lance astride his steed.

After a quick security check, fans enter a nice lobby, where the pro shop is located. Staircases and escalators on either side of the lobby lead up to the main concourse, which encircles the entire seating bowl. This open concourse allows for views of the action from all points.

Standing room areas as well as several bar-style seating sections complete with high-top seats and bar rails are located atop the seating bowl. Fans walk down to their seats. All seats are folding, padded stadium seats with excellent views of the court. There is plenty of accessible seating available, as well as four sets of large, clean rest rooms.

Return on Investment 5

Tickets for Lancer games start at ten dollars for end zone seats, with sideline tickets costing $15 or $20. Children’s tickets cost $7, while seniors and members of the military are admitted for $5. There is free parking in the garage adjacent to the arena. With inexpensive food options, attending a Lancer game is a most affordable entertainment option for Inland Empire sports fans.

Extras 4

An extra point for the lancer statue in the entry plaza. As Nuke LaLoosh would say, it announces its presence with authority.

An extra point for the nice drawstring bag that the pro shop gives out with each purchase.

An extra point for the banners honoring conference championships and tournament appearances for both the men’s and women’s teams.

A final extra point for this attractive campus with the Pueblo Revival-style buildings. The CBU Events Center fits in with its surroundings seamlessly.

Final Thoughts

At Stadium Journey we often talk about teams playing in a “right sized” facility. Cal Baptist has done their basketball team right by building a 5,000-seat venue right on campus. Featuring a simple design with plenty of modern touches, this hidden gem is an outstanding, affordable place to catch some quality college basketball.

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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