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A Train Traveler's Guide to the Big Apple's Basketball Arenas

By Drew van der Poel -- December 28, 2012 9:34 AM EST


Public transportation is a beautiful thing. When checking out all the professional and Division I arenas that New York City has to offer, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is your best bet and easily maneuvering around the world's greatest city. It might be a little tricky the first time you use it, but once you get the hang of the subway, you'll be covering the five boroughs in no time. At just $2.50 a ride, you're not going to find a better deal.

One of the most popular ways of entering the city is via train to Grand Central Terminal (GCT). Thus, we will choose this as the starting point for all of our arena trips. Obviously, there is more than one way of getting anywhere, but for time's sake, we will limit to just one way for each arena.

New York is now home to two NBA franchises, the Knicks in Manhattan, and the Nets in Brooklyn. The Battle of the Boroughs is becoming a formidable rivalry in the league, as the Nets' relocation to Brooklyn has rejuvenated the hype surrounding these games.

Madison Square Garden (New York Knicks) - Manhattan

From Grand Central take the 7 or S train to Times Square. Then you can either take the 1, 2, or 3 trains down to 34th Street, or just walk down to 34th, and then head over to MSG. Since New York is such a walkable city, you can even walk through Midtown from Grand Central to MSG, it would take about 25 minutes. You would go across 42nd, down 6th, and then right onto 33rd. Walking would be my personal recommendation.

Barclays Center (Brooklyn Nets) - Brooklyn

Very easy trip here. From GCT, you want to take either the downtown 4 or 5 train. Get off at Atlantic Ave Station and follow the signs to the brand new Barclays. The express train stops at Barclays, so that would be ideal, but the local train works as well. It doesn't get easier than that.

Famous for its college basketball as well, the city's college arenas are more affordable, but not as easy to get to. You want to take the local train to the below destinations, unless otherwise noted.


Levien Gymnasium (Columbia Lions, Ivy League)

You have some options when going to visit New York's Ivy League school. First you want to take either the S or 7 train to Times Square. Levien is located on Columbia's main campus as part of the Dodge Physical Education Complex. Take the 1 train to 116th, Columbia University and walk to the entrance at 120th Street.


Rose Hill Gymnasium (Fordham Rams, Atlantic-10)

The easiest way to the Fordham campus is via MTA's Harlem line. There is a stop right at Fordham, and it's just a simple 20 minute ride from GCT. However, this article is focusing on the subway, so we will tell you how to get there that way as well. It should be noted that taking the subway will double the time, when compared to taking the Harlem line. From GCT, you want the uptown bound 4 train towards Woodlawn, getting off at 161st Street/Yankee Stadium. Here, you want to transfer to the D train and take that towards Norwood and get off at Fordham Road, where you have about a mile walk to the campus and the gym.

Draddy Gymansium (Manhattan Jaspers, MAAC)

Way up in the Bronx, on the edge of Van Cortlandt Park lies the campus of Manhattan College, and Draddy Gymnasium, home of the Jaspers. A simple, but relatively long ride, you want to start off by taking either the S or the 7 train to Times Square. From there, you want to get on the 1 train and take that all the way to the end, and get off at the Van Cortlandt Park 242nd Street station. From there, it's a very short walk to the campus, to Draddy Gymnasium.


Wellness, Recreation & Athletic Center (Long Island Blackbirds, NEC)

Close to the Nets new home in Brooklyn, there are two easy ways to get to LIU's Brooklyn Campus, home of their Division I Blackbirds. The first is to take the 4 train from GCT to Nevins Street. The express train stops at Nevins, so that'd likely be ideal. From Nevins, it is just a short walk down Flatbush Avenue to the campus, and the arena. The second option is to take the 4 train to Union Square, an express stop, and then transfer to the Q train. The Q takes you right to the LIU-Brooklyn Campus, as the DeKalb Avenue Station is literally across the street from the campus. The arena is on the Ashland Pl side of the small campus.

Generoso Pope Athletic Complex (St. Francis Terriers, NEC)

Not far from their in-conference, in-borough rivals LIU, the St. Francis Terriers play on campus at the Pope Athletic Complex. An easy trip from GCT, you just want to take the downtown bound 4 train. Get off at Borough Hall, an express stop, and cross Court St to the small St. Francis campus. The arena is on the south side of campus, on Joralemon Street.


Carnesecca Arena (St. John's Red Storm, Big East)

New York's college team, isn't that easy to get to from GCT. While they play about half their home games at MSG (see New York Knicks above), the rest of their home games are at their home arena on the school's Jamaica, Queens campus. The hour long trip from GCT begins with taking the 4, 5, or 6 train up to 59th Street. Here, utilize the free out-of-system subway transfer and walk to the Lexington Ave/63rd Street stop. Then take the F train to 169th Street, the second to last stop on the line. Still not there, you have a mile walk up to the St. John's campus, and Carnesecca Arena. It is slightly disappointing that the city's highest profile college team, has arguably the least accessible arena.

Staten Island

Spiro Sports Center (Wagner Seahawks, NEC)

Not the most convenient place to take in a game in the city, but it does allow one to see the cool borough that is Staten Island. I would take the S or 7 over to Times Square, and then the 1 down to South Ferry, at the southern tip of Manhattan. From here, you can take the Staten Island Ferry, which is free! Once you arrive at St. George on Staten Island, you can take the Staten Island Transit to Clifton, the 3rd stop. From here it is about a half hour walk to Spiro and Wagner.

These routes are using exclusively trains, and the ferry in the Wagner case. One could use buses in addition to trains to travel throughout the city, but this offers a unique perspective with strictly train traveling. Being in the heart of such a major area, there are many other college arenas to visit directly outside the New York area. Iona, Marist, Hofstra, Stony Brook, Rutgers, to name a few. However, that is for an article another day.

**Photo attributed to Original photography & stitching by Diliff, horizontal correction by Janke


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