When football ends at Idaho, the basketball teams moves out of historic, but unsuitable Memorial Gym and head over to the Kibbie Dome, which becomes the Cowan Spectrum. Seating 6,000 fans, the makeshift court creates an intimate atmosphere for the Vandals, and was named one of the 20 toughest home courts by Sports Illustrated in the early 1980s.
To review a sports venue, there are key aspects to address. Food and beverage are one, along with the atmosphere and fans, neighborhood and access, return on investment and the extras.
Food and beverage
What would make eating at the Cowan Spectrum much more enjoyable would be some variety and uniqueness. The concession stands only have the basic food items like hot dogs, popcorn and soda. There isn’t anything to make it memorable. The good thing about Cowan Spectrum concessions is the prices. Many arenas will overcharge on everything, but the Cowan Spectrum keeps prices fair. That makes up for the lack of variety.
Atmosphere and fans
The atmosphere of the Cowan Spectrum is different from many other college basketball arenas as it is one of the few where the teams actually play in the football stadium. Only Syracuse, Northern Arizona, South Dakota and Idaho State join the Vandals with that. The curtains that are hung make the arena seem a lot smaller than it actually is and doesn’t make it actually seem like a basketball arena in a football stadium. As for the fans, while the Cowan Spectrum-opener against UC Davis had a good turnout, the average attendance the past few seasons for Idaho overall has not been great. Even when Idaho was in the WAC last season with the likes of Texas-Pan American, Utah Valley, Chicago State and UMKC, the men’s basketball team ranked sixth in the conference in average attendance. Not an ideal mark for a school with a long history going against mainly Division I startup programs.
Neighborhood and access
The town of Moscow is one of the best small college towns in America and finding fun things to do and good places to eat or drink before and after the game is never a problem. Ideally, the Cowan Spectrum would be closer to a lot of these things, but a short drive shouldn’t be a big deal if you don’t have time to walk to and from the stadium. Finding a place to park isn’t a big deal either, as the parking lot has more than enough room. Getting there by foot from anywhere on campus is not a problem as well.
Return on investment
Although students pay student fees in advance to get into all athletic events there, is there is no real investment at the door. For non-students though, the ticket prices online run at $15, which seem a bit steep for what you end up getting at an Idaho basketball game. Students shouldn’t have any worries though, as paying $0 to get in seems pretty fair if you ask me.
Seeing the banners of Idaho basketball history hanging on the curtains is always nice, along with the retired numbers. The band, the cheerleaders and Joe Vandal will always keep the fans entertained and bringing out Pizza Perfection for the fans will always energize the crowd.
The Cowan Spectrum is far from perfect and plans for a new events center with a permanent home for basketball have been discussed, but when the curtains are hung and the bleachers are set up, the Cowan Spectrum becomes an intense and enjoyable place to watch some Big Sky basketball.
Ben Evensen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org