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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The University of Hartford Hawks play their home basketball games at the Chase Family Arena, named in honor of David and Rhoda Chase and their family for their history of gifts and contributions to the University. The basketball arena is located in the Reich Family Pavilion, which also hosts the school’s volleyball gym, swimming pool, locker room facilities for all 17 Division One sports, athletic training facilities and athletic administrative offices.
The University of Hartford was founded in 1957 when Hillyer College merged with Hartford Art School and the Hartt School. They took their athletic team names from Hillyer College, whose teams were known as the Flying Hawks, due to the presence of their basketball court on the fourth floor of their gymnasium.
The Hawks are members of the America East Conference. They have yet to qualify for the NCAA tournament. The team appeared in the CIT tournament once, losing in the opening round. One Hartford alumnus, Vin Baker, has played in the NBA.
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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".
There are a surprising variety of concessions available at the Chase Family Arena.
The main concession stand offers chicken tenders, pizza slices, hot dogs and nachos. Many snacks dot the menu, including pretzels, peanuts, candy, trail mix, cookies and fruit snacks. An extensive assortment of beverages, including Coca-Cola products, fruit juice, hot chocolate, milkshakes, hot coffee and cappuccino are sold here. Combo meals are available for fans looking to save a few dollars. No item on the menu costs more than five dollars.
In addition, there are two concession stands inside the Chase Family Arena. One stand sells a scaled-down version of the main stand's menu, while another stand sells the arena's most popular item, freshly popped popcorn, and other snack items.
Alcohol is not sold at this on-campus facility.
The game day atmosphere at Chase Family Arena is typical of many of the small gyms that dot the northeast. Basketball is not a huge deal here, and the Hawks' home court offers a cozy, intimate setting. From any seat in the arena you can hear sneakers squeak against the floor, coaches shouting instructions to their players and fans yelling encouragement to the players. It's an experience you can't get at bigger arenas.
All the typical ingredients of a typical college basketball game can be found. Hartford's pep band, cheerleaders and dance squad keep fans entertained throughout the game. There is no piped in music during play stoppages, as the pep band keeps things going throughout the game. There are giveaways from sponsors and some contests for fans throughout the game. It's a laid-back, fun atmosphere in which to take in some quality hoops.
There are scoreboards on either end of the court which have a small video screen and display game stats. Banners honoring the Lady Hawks' post-season success hang from the rafters. Vin Baker's retired jersey hangs beside one of the scoreboards. It's a simpler atmosphere that will be well received by basketball purists.
The University of Hartford is located in West Hartford, surrounded by an affluent residential neighborhood, including the Hartford Golf Club. There aren't any restaurants located within walking distance of the campus, meaning fans will have to travel to find pre or postgame entertainment or dining options.
Downtown Hartford, which contains a great many restaurants and places of interest, is just a ten minute drive away. Likewise, fans looking for a place to stay after a Hartford Hawk game will have to venture downtown for options.
The Hawks average about 1,400 fans per game at the Chase Family Arena. This figure is down a bit from previous seasons. Fans are a mix of alumni and locals, with some youth groups and families mixed in.
There is a decent turnout by the student section, who gather in the west end zone bleachers. Unfortunately, the students do not have a great affect on the atmosphere here, as they are generally quiet, and many of them leave at halftime.
The Reich Family Pavilion is located on the north end of the University of Hartford campus, adjacent to the Al-Marzook Athletic Fields and Fiondella Field. The campus is located in West Hartford, just a few miles from downtown Hartford. Most fans traveling to the University of Hartford will arrive via Interstate 91 which runs north-south through Hartford, and then via either Route 44 or 218, which run adjacent to the campus. Detailed directions to campus can be found here.
Parking is available in lots that surround the Reich Family Pavilion. There are more than enough spots to handle a typical crowd. While the vast majority of visitors to the University of Hartford arrive by car, those utilizing public transportation can take the 56 or 58 bus to campus. Check out the CT Transit website for more information.
Fans enter the arena into a small lobby, which contains entrances to the pool and volleyball court, as well as the snack bar, ticket booth, and stairs to the upper deck. The bathrooms, which are more than adequate for the average Hawk crowd, are also located here.
Seating at the Chase Family Arena consists of individual red folding seats along both sidelines, with wooden bleachers at each baseline. Each sideline has an upper section, which is set aside on the south side as the Gordon McCullough VIP Section. This section has its own bar and dining area attached.
Seats for Hartford Hawks cost $15 for Reserved Seating on either sideline, or five dollars for general admission bleacher seating on either baseline. Seating in the VIP Section costs $30, and courtside seats cost $50 for those fans wanting the upgrade.
Parking is free in the lots surrounding the Chase Family Arena. Concessions are inexpensive, with no item costing more than five dollars, and combo meals available that offer more savings.
A night at a Hartford Hawks basketball game will certainly not break the bank.
Extra points are awarded for the displays in the lobby that honor the Hawks two most distinguished athletic alumni, Baseball Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and NBA first round pick Vin Baker. Baker's retired jersey also hangs in the Chase Family Arena.
Chase Family Arena is typical of the small gymnasiums that dot the college basketball landscape in the northeast. It's a modest facility without a lot of bells and whistles, but a great, intimate setting at which to take in some quality college hoops at little cost.
Follow Paul Baker's stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
Member Review by Ed Pelle on Apr 30, 2013
In 1957 Hillyer College merged with Hartford Art School and the Hartt School to form Hartford University. The new university adopted the nickname Hawks from Hillyer College who was then known as the Fighting Hawks. Hillyer College played their home games on the fourth floor of a building during this era and derived their mascot from this high perch.
In 1984 the University of Hartford moved their athletic programs to the NCAA Division I level and joined the ECACN (Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference North), which would soon undergo a name change to the NAC (North Atlantic Conference) and then finally became known as the America East Conference.
Hartford University is located in West Hartford and plays their games in the Chase Family Arena located at the Reich Family Pavilion, which was opened in 1990.
16 Tobey Rd
Bloomfield, CT 06002
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