Part of the Berry Sports Center, Leede Arena is located on the eastern side of the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. The College’s famous Green sits less than half a mile west of the arena, while the picturesque Connecticut River forms the border with Vermont just a little further down the road.
Home to the Big Green men’s and women’s basketball team as well as the women’s volleyball team, Leede Arena opened in 1986. Though the men have not won an Ivy League championship since 1959, the women have found great success in the building since beginning play there in 1987, claiming 11 conference titles in 25 seasons. The arena is named for Edward Leede, who scored 1,331 points for the Big Green (ninth all-time) from 1944-49.
At a capacity of 2,100 seats, Leede is the smallest arena in the Ivy League, though the men’s lack of success combined with students’ propensity to study abroad during the harsh Hanover winters means that the building is rarely full. There is seating on two sides, with a mix of seats and wooden bleachers behind the benches and a court-length set of wooden bleachers on the opposite side. There is a small balcony overlooking one basket, above which hang banners celebrating Dartmouth’s Ivy title and NCAA tournament teams. The banners of the eight Ivy League institutions hang above the court, divided by a modest scoreboard above midcourt. A large concrete wall, sparsely decorated, save for a Dartmouth banner and an American flag, provides the backdrop for the other basket.
While there is nothing about Leede Arena that would blow away the average fan, the facility is well-maintained and makes for a perfectly suitable home for a small-conference Division I basketball team. All it’s waiting for is a few winning seasons to liven up the atmosphere.
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Leede Arena's concession stand, located in the lobby of the main entrance behind the near basket, has all the basics you'd expect: hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, cotton candy and drinks. All are reasonably priced (between $2 and $5), but someone looking for a full meal will probably be disappointed. Like many college arenas, no beer is served.
Because of its small size, every seat in the arena offers great views of the court. However, there is nothing unique about the arena, and that, coupled with Dartmouth's losing tradition, lends little historical significance to the building. The recent lack of success on the men's side means that games are rarely well-attended, creating a relatively quiet atmosphere. Dartmouth still draws well against strong opposition - nationally-ranked Harvard drew a sellout for the first time in 11 years when it visited in 2012 - and the crowd, particularly the student section, can get loud during close games. Sadly, this is the exception rather than the rule, as most Dartmouth games feature little student support, resulting in a less-than-ideal atmosphere to take in a game.
Hanover is the quintessential rural Northeastern college town, and aside from Dartmouth's beautiful campus (usually buried under a foot of snow during basketball season), the surrounding area offers several dining options located a short walk away from the arena.
All of Hanover's bars and restaurants are located west of Leede Arena, on or around Main Street. One of the best is Ramunto's Brick and Brew Pizzeria on South Street, which, unsurprisingly, specializes in beer and pizza. Ramunto's offers at least 10 beers on tap, including several local New England beers. The pizza is exceptional, and the garlic-knot pizza, made with a crust of Ramunto's specialty garlic knots, is a must-try. The restaurant also boasts several flat-screen televisions to liven up the dining experience.
Salt Hill Pub, opened in 2010, is situated on Lebanon Street, and, like Ramunto's, is less than half a mile from the arena. Though the cuisine is Irish as opposed to Italian, Salt Hill has a lot in common with Ramunto's, from its quality beer selection to its flat-screen televisions. Both establishments offer a great atmosphere for pre- or post-game festivities.
A bit further west on Main Street, Molly's is a great option for family dining.
With just 4,200 undergrads, Dartmouth does not have a very large pool of fans to draw from. When you add in Dartmouth's unique academic calendar - which ensures that, at any given time, a portion of campus is away from school during the traditional academic year - it is difficult to find passionate basketball fans on Dartmouth's campus. Add in the College's rural setting and a team that consistently finishes in the bottom half of the Ivy League and the result is a half-empty building on most nights. The sparsely-populated student section is capable of making noise late in close games, but the arena generally has a dead feel until at least the second half. The local residents, generally seated in the bleachers behind the benches, are more consistent than the students in their attendance, but far less vocal in their cheering.
There is plenty of parking, either in metered spots on Wheelock Street, a garage on Lebanon Street or the nearby athletic lots by Thompson Arena. If more parking is needed, the College can open an overflow lot with a shuttle service to the arena. Parking is inexpensive, ranging from the free spaces outside Thompson Arena to a few dollars for spaces in the garage. Though there aren't many bathrooms in Leede Arena, there are enough to meet the needs of the small crowds.
Tickets are very cheap, with chair back seats going for $8 and general admission bleachers going for $7 to adults and $4 to youths. All students get in free with a Dartmouth ID. Though the quality of the product could be better, when the most expensive seat in the house is $8, there's not much to complain about.
Unfortunately there is nothing remarkable about attending a Dartmouth basketball game which would warrant any additional points.
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9 South St
Hanover, NH 03755
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