Itinerant Fan

Pepsi Center

Built near the beginning of the ’90s-era surge in new stadium construction, Denver’s Pepsi Center — home of the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets — continues to stand the test of time. 

The building has gone through improvements over the years to keep up with modern comforts but remains a functional but not flashy to watch a basketball or hockey game, from its amenities to its location on the edge of downtown Denver.

Pepsi Center has seen the Stanley Cup raised within its walls (by the Avalanche in 2001) and has also played host to the NHL and NBA All-Star Games, NCAA basketball tournament games (including the Women’s Final Four), the NCAA Frozen Four and more.

While the Avs and Nuggets look to ascend to the heights of their respective leagues, their home arena remains a great place to watch a game, whether you’re a fan of the home team or just visiting Denver.

For more on visiting Denver, check out our Denver sports travel guide.


The approach: Getting to Pepsi Center

Pepsi Center is located in a central part of the Denver region, just outside the popular district known locally as LoDo (shorthand for “Lower Downtown”) and near a lot of the city’s attractions. The home of the NFL’s Broncos, Empower Field at Mile High, is nearby, and the two venues share several parking lots located between them. 

A major thoroughfare, Speer Boulevard, runs by the arena, and the majority of fans driving in for games will access it from the nearby Interstate 25 to get there. However, if you’re visiting Denver and staying downtown, the arena is within a reasonable walking distance of many major hotels — so provided it isn’t the dead of winter and snowing and/or freezing outside, getting to the game might be as simple as taking a stroll.

Denver’s RTD light-rail service has a station at the arena’s doorstep, known as Pepsi Center/Elitch Gardens. Three lines (C, E and W) serve the station and it’s possible to take light rail the short distance from downtown’s Union Station, so it’s a viable option if you want to get out of the cold or simply don’t want to walk. From the downtown area, use the free 16th Street Mall bus to get to Union Station, then pay the $3 single-ride fare to ride the light rail.

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit
Get Directions

The build-up: Things to do around Pepsi Center

If you’re interested in seeing some of Denver’s cultural sights, many of them are nearby. The Elitch Gardens amusement park is right across the street, but be aware that it is only open from April until late October or early November. It also has a water park open during the summer.

Also nearby: The Children’s Museum of Denver, the Downtown Aquarium and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Denver Sports Hall of Fame operates a museum at Empower Field, and other attractions such as the Denver Mint and the Colorado State Capitol are not far away.

But more than likely, if you’re headed to the game you’re looking for a place to eat and/or drink. The 16th Street Mall and surrounding blocks are your best bet for this — sports bars, chain and independent restaurants and more can be found throughout the area. Click here for a guide to restaurants nearby.

If you’re near Union Station, find either Wewatta or Wynkoop streets and head southeast just a few blocks until you cross Speer Boulevard, after which the arena will be in plain sight.

Pepsi Center Colorado Avalanche Denver Nuggets

The ambiance: Watching a game at Pepsi Center

Some of the “newer” arenas around the NBA and NHL can look like behemoths, especially from the outside, but Pepsi Center does not fit this description. It’s plenty big, but just not huge, which is perfectly fine. 

If you drove and parked in one of the arena lots, or if you took light rail to get in, chances are you’re entering through the main entrance at the arena’s southwest corner. After passing through security and getting your ticket scanned, fans ascend a large staircase that leads to the main concourse. From there, the arena layout is fairly standard-issue, with three levels numbered 100, 200 and 300 — the middle is a club level, and the arena’s suites can be found in between as well.

The upper deck rows don’t feel that high up — at least for the Avs game we attended, we were near the top but never felt far removed from the action. None of the 300-level sections go higher than 16 rows up. If you’re up high and have trouble seeing, you can always train your eye on the HD videoboard that hangs over the playing area, installed in 2013.

The arena has also done a good job in recent years adding more local food options, though most of the choices are pretty standard stadium fare — chicken sandwiches, barbecue, pizza, loaded fries and the like. 

If you’re looking to have a nice drink pregame, or if you’d simply like to sit in a relaxed atmosphere, check out the Breckenridge Brewery Mountain House, a lodge-like restaurant on the arena’s southeast side.

Share this post:

    The Particulars

    Home Teams
    Colorado Avalanche
    Denver Nuggets

    Address
    1000 Chopper Circle
    Denver, CO 80204

    Year Opened
    1999

    Capacity
    18,007 (hockey)
    19,155 (basketball)

    Upcoming Events
    All times local
    TBD at Denver Nuggets: NBA Finals (Home Game 2, If Necessary)
    Sunday, June 7, 2020
    3:30 am
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »

    Justin Bieber with Kehlani and Jaden Smith
    Saturday, June 13, 2020
    3:30 am
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »

    TBD at Denver Nuggets: NBA Finals (Home Game 3, If Necessary)
    Saturday, June 13, 2020
    3:30 am
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »

    Daryl Hall & John Oates with Squeeze and KT Tunstall
    Sunday, June 14, 2020
    7:00 pm
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »

    TBD at Denver Nuggets: NBA Finals (Home Game 4, If Necessary)
    Thursday, June 18, 2020
    3:30 am
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »


    View Seating Chart »