Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Fine dining available for cager fans before games

November 2, 2000

Tickets are now available for Breslin Student Events Center’s exclusive, upscale restaurant, the Tip-Off Cafe.

In its fourth year, the Tip-Off Cafe offers basketball ticket holders a unique dining experience prior to every men’s basketball home game.

“Many arenas, at least the ones built within the past four years, have a prefunction and bar space inside the arena,” said Scott Breckner, Breslin director. “We are just following suit, making use of available space.”

When the plans to create such a facility were first presented to former MSU head basketball coach Jud Heathcote, he expressed little interest in the idea. However, when Tom Izzo took over the position, the idea was again proposed and Izzo accepted.

“Much of the credit goes back to Tom,” Breckner said. “He is willing to take time out of his busy day.”

Adding excitement to the dining experience is the opportunity to hear Izzo speak - a 10- to 15-minute presentation in which he talks about the keys to the game, injuries on the team and expected highlights.

“We wanted to try to give some credibility to the event,” Izzo said. “To give (the crowd) some insight into the game.”

Izzo admits that speaking prior to every game is not easy, but said he feels his presence shows the fans that they are important.

“It does (add to the chaos), but I’ve gotten used to it,” Izzo said. “It’s become part of the ritual now.”

With a maximum dining capacity of 145 people, the Tip-Off Cafe regularly sells out. In fact, all of last year’s Big Ten games were sold out in advance.

Though tickets can be purchased as late as the day of the game, Breckner warns against waiting until the last minute.

“The longer you wait, the better your chances of being shut out,” Breckner said. “We know now that there are already games that are sold out.”

An added attraction for Cafe patrons is the expanded menu, up from approximately nine Tip-Off meals to 17, including such entrees as Baltimore chicken, prime rib and shrimp.

Tickets for the event can be purchased for $20, a price Breckner said includes a full meal, a festive atmosphere and occasional giveaway prizes.

“It’s nothing major,” Breckner said. “It’s just something to entertain fans before the game starts.”

Despite all that comes with eating at the Tip-Off Cafe, Izzone co-director Jarrod Folsom said he might be reluctant to attend because of the cost.

“It sounds like fun,” said Folsom. “But I don’t know that as a student that it’s something I would do.”

Tickets can be purchased at the Breslin Center Box Office or by phone at (517) 432-5000 or 800-968-BRES.

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