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Alumni Hall

Annapolis, MD

Home of the Navy Midshipmen

3.3

N/A

Alumni Hall (map it)
US Naval Academy
Annapolis, MD 21402


Navy Midshipmen website

Alumni Hall website

Year Opened: 1991

Capacity: 5,710

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Just a Walk in the Park, Kazansky

As most high school seniors know, applying for a four-year college is tough. Depending on where you want to go there are resumes you must submit, essays you must complete and teacher recommendations you must retrieve. Not easy, but what if the application process included a physical fitness test, a thorough medical exam and a requirement that you received a nomination by a US congressman, senator, the Vice-President or the President? Such is the case for the students at the United States Naval Academy, known and addressed as Midshipmen.

The Naval Academy, shortened to Navy or USNA, was established in October 1845 in Annapolis, Maryland and is the second-oldest of the five service academies (the US Military Academy, or Army, was established in 1802. The 2012 edition of US News & World Reports ranked the Naval Academy the number one public liberal arts college in the United States, tied for first with West Point. The campus is about 30 miles from Washington, DC and 25 miles from Baltimore and is considered a National Historic Landmark.

The US Naval Academy fields 30 varsity sports teams, the most prolific being the football and basketball teams. The football team currently plays as an Independent, but is scheduled to join the Big East in 2015. The 1926 National Champions, Navy football enjoys fierce rivalries with Army, Air Force, Notre Dame and Rutgers. The Army-Navy football rivalry is always nationally televised and is one of the most traditional rivalries in college football. Navy basketball has built their own tradition, as well, with eleven tournament appearances. Two of those appearances saw the Midshipmen reach the Elite Eight (1954, 1986).

A member of the Patriot League since 1991, Navy has been the conference regular-season champion five times and the tournament champion thrice. The Midshipmen play their home basketball games at Alumni Hall in the heart of the USNA campus. Opened in 1991 and currently at a capacity of 5,710, Alumni Hall is a great place to watch basketball and learn a little something about the Naval Academy, even if it might take the help of Seal Team 6 to reach the hall.

3.3

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

The concessions are pretty standard, with hot dogs, pretzels and peanuts at $3 and candy at $2. Drinks are also $3, and are Pepsi products. The one unique item, which seemed to double as the most popular during my visit, was the Papa John's pizza slices, for $3. Although I was hoping for some local fare since I was at the Naval Academy, the food that was provided was filling and definitely tasty. I can personally say good things about the hot dogs. Lines were moderately long, especially around halftime, but seemed to move pretty fast. As one may imagine, no alcohol is sold within Alumni Hall, nor allowed inside.

Atmosphere    4

The layout of Alumni Hall is fantastic. Similar to a professional basketball stadium, the venue has a seating bowl that goes entirely around the court, surrounding the hardwood. This gives -- when enough fans show up -- a significant home-court advantage, one that can't be obtained when fans are only allowed to sit on the sidelines or behind just one baseline. Pennants on the wall detail the different accomplishments of the Navy Midshipmen basketball team, and there are five jerseys hanging from rafters that signify the five Midshipmen who had their uniform retired, including #4 John Clune and a player that ended up being one of the greatest centers in NBA history, #50 David Robinson.

There is a scoreboard in the middle above center court that details the score, time left, period and team fouls for each side. The scoreboard also has a video screen, which the athletic department puts to very good use, with features such as a live feed of the game, fan cams and pump up graphics like "MAKE SOME NOISE!" and "GET LOUD!" The fan cams are used for several different games, like smile cam, pump up cam, fan of the game, and section of the game. There are also plenty of intermission games that include fans, like the Layup/Free Throw/Three-Point contest, which actually had a lot of fans' attention when it was done at the game I attended. The Navy band was not as much of a focus as pep bands at some other colleges, but they were still very impressive, totaling about twenty five Midshipmen in all. The PA announcer was enthusiastic as was the cheer team, composed of both men and women and stationed on the left baseline. One part that fans especially liked was that after EVERY three-pointer made by Navy, the cheer team ran around the outside of the court and tossed T-shirts to the fans. The Navy mascot, Bill the Goat, was also present at the game, mingling with the younger fan base.

Neighborhood    4

The capital of Maryland and once the capital of the United States of America, Annapolis is out of the top five as far as largest city population in the Old Line State, but certainly near the top in regards to things to do. History buffs will rejoice in having a day to spend around town, because Annapolis, nicknamed the 'Sailing Capital of the World' and 'Naptown', is a city with one of the richest histories in the entire country. If you're going to a Navy Midshipmen basketball game, you're already at the best place to visit in the city. The US Naval Academy campus is a must-see, and with guided tours as well as museums, you will learn a whole lot about this great country that you never knew before. There are no walk-ons in Navy athletics, and there's no declaring early for the NBA or the NFL. Everyone gets a full scholarship at the USNA, but it's paid back with service in the United States Navy. I absolutely recommend at least walking around the campus during the day if you're visiting for a sporting event. Win or lose, the Navy campus is a reminder that there are some things that are bigger than sports.

Outside of campus, there are many other historic establishments as well, such as a World War II Memoriam and the Maryland State House. Opened in 1772, the State House is open every day from 9am to 5 pm, except for Christmas and New Year's Day, and self-guided tour information is available in the Office of Interpretation on the first floor.

Fans    4

I will start off by saying that the game I attended, the regular season home finale against Bucknell University, turned out to be the biggest non-Army game crowd in Alumni Hall history, with about 85% of the seats filled. This definitely paints a bright outlook for Navy basketball. At this particular game, the initial thing that I noticed was that there were a lot of kids...and I mean a lot. Youth groups seem to like coming to Alumni Hall, as I saw several youth sports groups and Boy Scout troops in attendance at the game. It makes sense; Navy basketball games are both educational and entertaining.

Several fans had home-made signs, and the crowd got very loud when a Bucknell player was shooting a free throw. Moreover, even though Navy was down by nine at halftime and spent just about the entire second half down by double-digits, fans did not walk out and leave. Even though defeat was imminent for the Midshipmen in this game, just about every Navy supporter stuck around until the final buzzer, a great gesture and a sign of loyalty and respect towards the Navy basketball team.

Access    1

It has to be expected because of the venue we're discussing, but getting to Alumni Hall within the Naval Academy for any sporting event is certainly a hassle. Vehicle access is restricted to those with a Department of Defense sticker. Fans need to park outside of the USNA grounds and enter the Academy through the visitors entrance located at Gate One, per the Naval Academy's website. A second option is to park at the shuttle bus pick-up point. The primary shuttle bus location is the west parking lot at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The shuttle bus runs beginning one hour before the start of the first Navy sporting event of the day and runs until one hour after the conclusion of the final Navy sporting event. Parking at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium costs $5.

All visitors over the age of 16 must present a photo identification card, such as a driver's license, to gain access to the campus. For GPS purposes, the best address to enter would be 52 King George Street, Annapolis, MD 21402. This will get you close to the pedestrian entrance. If you're coming from the north, take I-97 South until it merges into Highway 50 East towards Annapolis. Take Exit 24, Rowe Boulevard, and bear right. If you're coming from the south, take I-95 North to Route 50.

While there is nothing wrong with the city, the campus or the traffic, this has to be one of the hardest venues to get to in college basketball. On the bright side, with it being a United States military academy, one would hope this would be the case.

Return on Investment    4

Tickets for games at Alumni Hall are $10 for adults, $5 for youth (18 and under) and $3 each if you have a group order of twenty or more. These prices don't apply to the annual Army/Navy game, but regardless, the value is tremendous for the kind of experience that you can get at a Navy men's basketball game. The seats are great all around the venue, and the youth rate is for everyone 18 and under, unlike the 12 and under youth rates you will find at many other places.

The Patriot League may not be a premier conference, but every school is relatively close by (American University in Washington, DC is the southernmost member, while Holy Cross in Worcester, MA and Colgate in Hamilton, NY are the northernmost), and the rising league has pulled off a few of the best upsets in the NCAA Tournament in recent memory (Bucknell in 2005, Lehigh in 2012). Considering the surroundings outside of the hall and the entertainment and educational aspects inside the hall, $10 for an adult ticket for Navy men's basketball is a deal that is hard to beat.

Extras    3

One extra point goes to the halftime show, which was Navy's annual Mascot Mayhem featuring a bunch of mascots from several different establishments playing basketball with a soft ball and lowered baskets. It's as fun and ridiculous as it sounds. Among the mascots that were in attendance were Bill the Goat (Navy), the Chick-fil-A cow, Abraham Lincoln (Washington Nationals), the Oriole Bird (Baltimore Orioles) and Poe (Baltimore Ravens). One of the mascot teams won 8-2, but I don't remember which, because I was too busy laughing. The fans also loved the event, especially the kids.

A second point is for the post- game entertainment. After the game was over and fans began filing out, several kids from youth groups were allowed to play on the court. If I were a kid again, playing on the actual court of the Navy basketball team would be a huge thrill for me, especially since there were several fans that were sticking around and still watching.

The best gesture, though, came from the Navy basketball team, which warrants their third extra point. The players came back out after the game was over and went around the stadium, high-fiving and thanking the fans for supporting the team throughout the season. The game I went to was the home finale of the 2012-2013 season and the Midshipmen had just finished a tough season. The fact that the athletes came out after the game was over to thank the fans was a wonderful gesture and really made it feel like the Midshipmen truly appreciated the support that their fans gave them through thick and thin.

Final Thoughts

It is hard to imagine the Navy Midshipmen ever being able to have a consistently competitive basketball program, simply because the rules are different in Annapolis. When these Midshipmen graduate, none of them will be playing basketball overseas; there's a chance they will be serving overseas. Regardless of the win-loss record and whether you're rooting for or against the Midshipmen at Alumni Hall, there's no basketball game that is a matter of life and death. Serving the country can be.

Thank someone that you know who's in the military. If you're at a Navy basketball game, thank a Midshipman. Thank those who have served, such as my uncle, and those who are to serve, such as my friend's brother. We all know at least one person in the military. Come enjoy a Navy game at Alumni Hall, a beautiful place to watch basketball at a high level, up close and personal. The value of the experience is great, and the athletic program of the USNA does a lot to entertain fans. Pay your respects as well, though, because the same men that are defending the basket today may be defending the country tomorrow.

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