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Official Review by Andy Mantsch, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Most sports fans probably couldn't even tell you where Elon University is located. Just east of Greensboro, North Carolina, in the heart of basketball country, Elon is an often overlooked small town basketball team amidst the abundance of big-time college basketball institutions. But the campus is nothing to scoff at. From the Fonville Fountain to the beautiful residence halls, the campus is full of historic beauty.
Alumni Gym, the home of Elon Phoenix basketball, is no exception. Built in 1949, the historic venue has been with the Phoenix through over half a century of history. It seats 1,585, but feels even smaller than that. Even with modern upgrades through the years, there is a unique character and feel to the building that can't be overlooked.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Food at an Elon game is cheap, but very sparse.
There's really only one concession stand at the general entrance end of the court. Here you can get pizza, hot dogs, nachos and popcorn for $3, as well as chips and candy for $1. There is a local ice cream stand opposite the door, which provides a modicum of local flair.
Coke products, bottled water and Powerade are available for $3.
Nothing here really stands out, so grab your affordable preference and head on in.
Alumni Gym definitely qualifies as a unique (albeit small) venue in a state known for its basketball venues.
It's not often that it could be said that a basketball arena has movie theater seating, but that's the case for a lot of the general admission seats here. And that is an apt description, as the plush seats in the upper deck seem like they came straight out of a movie theater. The arena itself is small, with a low ceiling and clear split between upper and lower decks. New video boards and scoreboards are jammed into the venue, in some spots blocking what was once seating. While there's a considerable amount of character, it's a bit of a mish-mosh between new and old.
Most of the activities during the game are pretty standard. Cheerleaders and a pep band get fans going consistently, and some relatively interesting time out and halftime activities will keep you mildly entertained. But overall for entertainment value, it's pretty run-of-the-mill.
Because the stadium is small and the students dominate most of the lower level, opt for general admission and go for sideline upper. The behind the basket seats are all low enough to be looking straight through the backboard.
Unquestionably a small town, Elon has the benefit of being on the local outskirts of Burlington and on a larger scale outskirts of Greensboro. The immediate area is a quaint college campus with a few options around.
A block or two down Williamson Avenue from Alumni Gym, you can find a series of bars and interesting-looking restaurants. Try out The Root for some delicious angus burgers and soup. A little further south in Burlington, you'll find the Piedmont Ale House, where you can get a wide selection of beers and good bar food.
The Elon/Burlington area is definitely not known for its wonderful tourist options. A series of parks and malls probably make up your best options. For history buffs, the Alamance Battleground State Historic site might be the only unique option in the area.
The only real hotels in the area are a short drive south along I-85/40. The Courtyard Burlington is probably the easiest to get in and out of, but there are a variety at the same exit.
Alumni Gym consistently gets pretty full, and that's mostly due to the excellent student turnout they get.
While an average of over 1,300 fans may not seem like a lot, it's great for a 1,585-seat stadium. The students overflow the student section into the upper deck and make up what is probably almost half of the overall attendance. And alumni and fans easily fill out the rest of the arena.
The crowd doesn't sit on their hands, either. The large number of students means the crowd is particularly engaged. The cheerleaders and pep band lead a number of chants that get the students going, creating a small but imposing atmosphere for opposing teams.
While Elon may not be right on the interestate, it's easy to get to and get around.
If you're flying in, you can fly into either Raleigh or Greensboro and get a 45 to 60-minute drive either way.
From the interstate you'll head north through Burlington for a short drive into the small town of Elon. Parking is free around campus, and no matter where you find a spot, it's a short and scenic walk to the gym.
Two gates on either side of the gym make for easy access. A student entrance is on the other end of the court under the illuminated "E" logo. It's pretty easy to get in and out of any of the gates.
The stadium is definitely unique in layout. For the upper deck seats, you'll climb some stairs behind the basket. But it's a small enough venue that it's generally easy to get to your seat anywhere you need to go.
For quality of basketball and overall experience, Elon is a pretty good value visit.
Tickets cost $12 ($5 youth), and put that with free parking and a meal under $5, it's definitely not expensive to visit Alumni Gym. And as a relatively high quality basketball program, it's worth a visit if you're in the area.
While nothing here stands out as particularly outstanding, there are definitely unique features here. In the atrium, you can find images of classic Elon players as a sort of "Elon Hall of Fame." The historic venue itself and its unique seating are definitely noteworthy in their own right. And overall, it's an unheralded but beautiful campus, if you choose to come early to walk around.
You may not know where Elon is, but if you're in the Burlington, North Carolina area on game night it's definitely worth the drive. It's a venue that stands out for its history and unique layout.
Member Review by brian on Mar 04, 2013
A walk across the campus at Elon University produces an interesting mix of the old and the new. One side of the campus shows you how Elon College appeared years ago – the iconic Fonville Fountain in front of the Alamance Building, the Sloan, Virginia and West residence halls and many other buildings which have served as the foundation of academic and social life for decades. The other side of the campus features many of the improvements and additions that have accompanied the school's evolution into what is now Elon University. The Moseley Center, Rhodes Stadium and the Danieley Center, among others, help demonstrate Elon's growth into their current university community.
One of the bridges between the university's past and present can be found just across Haggard Avenue from the “older” side of campus. Alumni Gym originally opened its doors in 1949, and has been the home of Elon basketball through their tenure in the NAIA, NCAA Division II and now NCAA Division I. Though the building has seen a number of upgrades to help modernize its appearance and gameday experience, the soul from sixty-plus years ago still remains. Alumni Gym is neither the latest nor greatest facility, but it, much like the Phoenix basketball program, delivers a solid performance.
Member Review by ianmccor on Apr 19, 2014
Like at Furman's Timmons Arena, feels like a theater. Or perhaps a classroom building. Just does not feel like a D1 basketball arena, even though the Phoenix are rising to the CAA.
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3141 Wilson Dr
Burlington, NC 27215