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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Case Gymnasium, referred to at Boston University as “The Roof,” has been the home to the Terriers men’s and women’s basketball teams since 1972. Located on the top floor of the Harold Case Physical Education Center, above the Walter Brown Arena, The Roof has provided the Terriers with a tremendous home-court advantage. Since its opening, the men’s teams have a winning percentage of .706, and the women’s teams have a winning percentage of .604.
When Agganis Arena opened a block away in 2005 the men’s team moved a portion of their schedule there, but over the years, as attendance remained stagnant, the team has returned more often to these cozy confines. Today only the biggest games are played at Agganis.
The gym stands on the site of Braves Field, which served as home field of the Boston Braves of Major League Baseball before they moved to Milwaukee in 1953. The Case Athletic Center stands approximately where the left field pavilion stands once stood.
The Terriers have qualified for the NCAA tournament seven times, most recently in 2011. They compete in the Patriot League, a conference featuring schools in the northeast that have high academic standards. Four Boston University alumni have gone on to play professionally in either the NBA or ABA.
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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".
If you need a snack while taking in a Terrier basketball game, you will find what you need here, but little more.
There is a small concession stand in the lobby, with two points of sale and limited food options. Hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn (in buttered and caramel flavor) and assorted candy is sold here. Bottles of Pepsi products are available as well. Fans are well advised to check out the many options in the immediate neighborhood and beyond to satisfy their appetite.
On the plus side, concessions are reasonably priced, with no items costing over $3.00.
The decision by the athletic department at Boston University to move the majority of their home games to Case Gymnasium was certainly a wise one, as the small crowds that show up at Terrier basketball games would certainly be swallowed up in a venue the size of Agganis Arena. In Case Gym, crowds appear more substantial, and the noise generated in this small barn is surprising. If the place were filled to capacity, it would definitely make for a significant home-court advantage.
What atmosphere there is here is almost entirely dependent on the excellent pep band. While small in size, this band provides entertainment throughout the game. From the moment the team takes the court to the sounds of "Red Rain" by Peter Gabriel, there is no doubt that the band runs the show here. In the absence of a significant student section, they even lead the cheers. In conjunction with the cheerleaders and dance squad, the band keeps fans interested during breaks in the action.
The rest of the crowd is made up of locals, some alumni, and local youth groups. The team holds some standard contests and giveaways during play stoppages, such as t-shirt tosses, trivia contests, and the very popular pizza giveaway.
If you like your basketball without a lot of extra noise and distraction, Case Gym is the place for you.
Boston University is an urban campus, straddling Commonwealth Avenue for approximately a mile and a half on the Boston/Brookline border. While this area of Boston isn't considered a popular destination, there are still plenty of things to do in the vicinity.
Fans coming to campus will find plenty of choices if eating before or after the game. Raising Cain is a popular fast food place near Case Gym, specializing in several varieties of chicken fingers. T's Pub is a popular gathering spot about a block away from the Gym, as is Sunset Cantina, which features Mexican-style fare. There are several excellent Thai restaurants around, including the Brown Sugar Café.
The Paradise Rock Club, known nationally for giving bands like U2 and REM their first area shows, is located a block away from Case Gym. It continues to host both local acts and up-and-coming national acts.
Out of town visitors to Boston will be interested to know Kenmore Square and Fenway Park are just over a mile away. Not far beyond that are the tourist destinations of Copley Square, the Back Bay, the Boston Common and Chinatown. All are easily accessed by the Green Line, which has stops up and down Commonwealth Avenue.
The BU basketball team stands perpetually in the shadow of the school's hockey team, and the attendance reflects this. The average attendance at Terrier games runs just over 500 fans. Matchups with local rivals Northeastern and Harvard can draw crowds in excess of 1,000, as do games with top conference rivals.
Despite the emptiness of the venue, there is a surprising amount of noise generated here at times, and this is done the old-fashioned way, without piped in noise or loud music. The cozy confines of Case Gym provide the Terriers with a nice home-court advantage, despite the small crowds in attendance.
Some college sports facilities are like modern palaces, full of grandeur and costing millions of dollars to build. Case Gym is quite the opposite. Located at the end of a dead end street, the plain brick building is marked only by a small sign containing the Boston University logo along with the names of the schools in the Patriot League and Hockey East Conferences.
Driving in Boston is a difficult proposition, as streets in the city in use since colonial times are laid out in a seemingly random fashion. Streets are narrow, parking is nearly impossible, traffic is seemingly always backed up, and there are construction projects everywhere to further gum up the works. Should you still wish to drive to a Boston University game, Case Gym is actually not very difficult to get to. The BU campus straddles Commonwealth Avenue, one of the major drags in the city. Case Gym is about a block from Commonwealth Ave. on Babcock Street. Detailed directions can be found here.
Parking is available in a covered lot located across Babcock St. underneath the New Balance Field. On street parking is also available in the vicinity of Case Gymnasium, but be aware of the times that meters are in operation.
The best method for arriving at Case Gym, as well as most points in Boston, is to take public transportation, known as the MBTA, or "T," for short. The Green Line's B train has a stop on Babcock Street just steps from the front door of Case Gym.
Case Gymnasium is located on the top floor of the Case Center, which houses both the Gymnasium and the Walter Brown Arena. Fans will enter Case Gym via one of two entrances. Fans entering from Babcock Street will enter into the lobby of Walter Brown Arena. The BU Athletic Hall of Fame is located here, as is the ticket booth. After climbing a couple flights of stairs, fans will enter into the Case Gym lobby. Fans entering from Nickerson Field will simply climb a few stairs and be in the lobby.
The lobby at Case Gym houses a trophy case, the concession stands, and two small restrooms that are adequate for the typical Terrier basketball crowd. Inside the Gym, there are two sets of seating areas. Sections 1-5 will be on your right, sections 6-10 on your left. All seats are individual red folding chairs. The small size of Case Gym ensures great sight lines from all seats.
Tickets to Terrier basketball games are sold for $12 for all seats. With the small crowds, it is possible to walk up to the ticket booth 20 minutes before tipoff and get a seat four rows up at center court. Parking in the lots across the street from Case Gym will set you back an additional 10 dollars. Many fans will save some money and the hassle of driving in Boston by taking the T to the game. A one-way fare on the T will cost you $2.65. While BU basketball is far down on the city's sports chain, it's an inexpensive alternative to many other programs in and around the city.
An extra point is awarded to the history on display throughout Case gymnasium. From the many trophies that fill the cases both on the first floor and in the Case Gym lobby to the banners hanging inside the gym honoring tournament appearances, conference championships, and retired numbers, BU's long and impressive athletic history is evident. While BU doesn't play with the big boys in most sports, they are certainly a prominent local athletic power.
College basketball is not a very big deal in New England compared to other parts of the country, and Case Gymnasium certainly reflects this fact. It is a plain, nondescript venue that fits the needs of the team that plays here perfectly. Despite having some strong teams over the years, the BU basketball team will always be second fiddle to the successful hockey team. While Case Gymnasium's unique location on the roof of a hockey rink may make it worth a visit, this is a destination only for the most dedicated basketball junkie.
Follow Paul Baker's stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on Feb 28, 2016
One of the biggest problems with Stadium Journey reviews is that they look only at one game and assume that every game at the venue is the same. I attended a Saturday afternoon game with nearby Holy Cross the visitor and the crowd was solid, about 75% of capacity. It was tough to move around, and these fans made it a much more interesting place to be than it would be in an early-season non-conference matchup. The point being, don't let a low score dissuade you from visiting; this place is pretty good.
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