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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Morgan State University was founded in 1867 as the Centenary Biblical Institute, a Methodist Episcopal seminary. Later it changed its name to Morgan College. The name changed once again in 1939 to Morgan State College when it became a public university. The school was granted university status in 1975, thus becoming Morgan State University. Morgan State is not a part of the University System of Maryland; the school opted out and possesses its own governing Board of Regents.
Morgan is a well known Historically Black College and University (HBCU). Famous alumni include actress Mo'Nique, singer Deniece Williams, current Mayor of Baltimore Catherine Pugh and Kweisi Mfume, Former President of the NAACP and U.S. Congressman.
Athletically the school competes in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). MEAC members are HBCU schools located in the Southeastern and the Mid-Atlantic United States.
The Bears basketball teams have been in the modern NCAA Tournament twice as a 15th seed (2009 and 2010) and went to the 2008 NIT as an 8th seed.
Talmadge L. Hill Field House is named for the head basketball coach and an assistant football coach at Morgan State College, from the 1930s to the 1960s.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There is a lone concession stand is under the bleachers on the north side of the arena right behind the concourses' bear statue.
Hot dogs ($3), nachos ($3), candy ($2) and chips ($1) comprise the entire menu, along with bottled soda ($3) and bottled water ($2). The prices are excellent and the hot dogs smell great but it is our recommendation that you plan to eat somewhere else before or after the game.
Hill Field House is a bit lacking in atmosphere. The arena is fairly big and spacious in the inside, so sound and excitement are not part of one's experience here.
There are seating sections on three sides of the arena, with a large empty area behind the east basket. The cheerleaders do use some of this space for their cheers. The west side stands are smaller than the north and south main stands.
The student band takes up part of the lower section of one of the seating areas. They are a very good band and I only wish they played more often. The cheerleaders are very good and try to keep as much excitement going as they can. There is also a bear mascot that roams the stands entertaining kids along the way.
The arena does have a simple, basic scoreboard that is underutilized and some nice banners along the one empty wall.
There is much excitement at local rivalry games such as with local schools Coppin State, Howard and Delaware State.
The area right around Morgan State is essentially residential. It is not a bad area, but neither is it overwhelmingly welcoming. You will probably want to venture away from campus for food, lodging and entertainment.
A sponsor of the team and a personal favorite for food is Miss Shirley's at 513 West Cold Spring Lane. They are known for their great breakfast and down-home food.
Venturing further from campus, one may want to try out the suburb of Towson with its variety of shops and restaurants. Try the Charles Village Pub in the heart of downtown Towson for good food and drinks. Some other great options are Glory Days Grill, Sushi Hana and Zia's.
You could also go south from the Morgan campus and check out one of my favorites, the Abbey Burger Bar right near the Cross Street Market. The beer selection is good and they offer a dizzying array of burger choices, all that is likely to satisfy.
For slightly more upscale cuisine a visit to the 1100-1200 blocks of North Charles Street where The Brewers Art and Sammy's Trattoria offer good food at decent prices.
Baltimore is home to many touristy attractions such as Harborplace, Fells Point and Fort McHenry. The American Visionary Art Museum on Key Highway is located on the way to Fort McHenry and should not be missed, although its unique collection will not be for everyone.
Hill Field House is pretty quiet inside. And except for a couple of loud fans overall there is very little fan engagement. As with many mid-major college gyms, the bulk of the fans tend to be family or friends of both teams. Student attendance at games seems to be pretty low, although it is higher when Copping, Howard and Delaware State come to town.
Morgan is not too hard to find. If on the Baltimore Beltway, I-695, one can take exit 30A (Perring Parkway/MD-41S) south until it becomes Hillen Road. Hill Field House can be found along the first left after the E Cold Spring traffic light. Any trouble in accessing the arena comes once you are on campus.
There is a parking garage next to Hill Fieldhouse, but you may need to drive around to find it as the signage is not extremely clear. The cost to park there is $10. I also found spaces for free around campus. It was a weekend game so those may be harder to find for weeknight games.
The tickets are $10 for all general admission. Youth and senior citizens get in for $5. Morgan students are free to attend games.
Make sure to check out some of the history of the school and its athletic programs. Morgan has gone through periods of great athletic success, although not as much lately. The Morgan State University Varsity 'M" Club Hall of Fame has some cool displays and includes National Football League Hall of Famers Rosey Brown, Leroy Kelly and Willie Lanier.
The student band and cheerleaders do a great job. They are both top notch units that deserve more than they get from the quiet fanbase.
Hill Field House is a pleasant enough arena that suffers from being too spacious for its own good, and that means the atmosphere is not as great as it should be. But the low price of admission and strong caliber of play means it is still a great choice for the local sports fan.
Member Review by mmspatz on Mar 14, 2013
In the big city of Baltimore, Maryland, Morgan State University is the big school. Founded in 1867, Morgan State has an undergraduate enrollment of about 6,400 students, fifth-largest in the state of Maryland and first out of the four four-year colleges and universities that are located within the city. Morgan State was originally called the Centenary Biblical Institute and was a Methodist Episcopal seminary before changing into Morgan College in 1890 in honor of Reverend Lyttleton Morgan, the first chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees. The name changed once again in 1939 to Morgan State College before being granted University status in 1975, thus becoming Morgan State University, the name it holds today. A historically black college, Morgan State, or MSU for short, is home to a critically acclaimed choir group that has appeared on such programs as the Late Show with David Letterman, NBC’s Today show and Christmas in Rockefeller Center 2008.
Morgan State basketball is the athletic program on campus with the most recent success. A charter member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) that was founded in 1970, Morgan State has been the conference regular season champion three times (2008-2010) and won the conference tournament thrice as well (1976 over Howard, 2009 over Norfolk State, 2010 over South Carolina State). As a result, they have been to the NCAA Tournament twice as a 15th seed (2009 and 2010) and went to the 2008 NIT as an 8th seed.
The home games for Morgan State basketball are played in Talmadge L. Hill Field House, The venue can hold about 4,500 fans, and is named after the head coach of the Bears’ basketball team from 1948-1960. While the Bears have been able to tap into some conference success in these past few years, the Hill Field House experience leaves a whole lot to be desired.
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