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Official Review by Jordan Baer, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Do you know where you are? You’re in The Jungle- the IUPUI Gymnasium that is. Built in 1982 and renovated in 2007, "The Jungle" is the home court to the IUPUI Jaguars of the Summit League.
With a capacity of 1,215, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The small, intimate environment is what makes IUPUI Gymnasium one of the best gymnasiums in the Summit League to watch a basketball game.
On both sides of the court, you will find newly installed murals of successful IUPUI athletes who have worn the Jaguar jersey over the years. In the atrium, you will be treated to a wide open glass view of IUPUI’s natatorium as well as various championship trophies.
IUPUI is located slightly north of Downtown Indianapolis and offers a nice affordable form of entertainment for those visiting Indiana’s capital.
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".
I only observed one concession stand which was out in the atrium area. The concession stand items are what you would find in your average gymnasium but were affordable priced- something you will not find in other gymnasiums.
The only thing I would like to see IUPUI consider is placing another concession stand on the northern side of the gymnasium that way the fans on that side of the court don't crowd behind the goal on their way out the door to the concession stand.
Another good thing about their concession stand was that a fair amount of their items were on display outside of the stand so that you could see and pick your items personally. This is something unusual at IUPUI Gymnasium and I hope they keep it that way.
The atmosphere was great. When you walk through the atrium before you enter the game, the view of IUPUI's natatorium is spectacular. I also enjoyed getting to see the various trophies won by IUPUI over the years.
Inside the gymnasium, you couldn't ask for a better view of the action. As you walk to your seats, you can pass right underneath the goal and then right next to the IUPUI bench. You can't get any closer to the action than that. No matter where your seats are, you are close enough to the action that you can hear what both coaches are saying, what the players are saying, and whatever else is taking place on the court.
One of the best things about IUPUI Gymnasium is the spirit it has achieved from the 2007 renovation. All parts of the facility are decked out in IUPUI colors, logos, and murals. You can feel the IUPUI school spirit come alive as soon as you walk into the building.
The neighborhood is one thing I would like to see IUPUI work on which it appeared they have already started on. As you go farther into the center of campus, you will see that IUPUI has built some great facilities such as new student housing, new classroom facilities, and a new student center.
But as you get closer to IUPUI Gymnasium, you are still surrounded by open parking lots. In the future, I would like to see IUPUI redevelop most of these lots so that they can tie their campus into Downtown Indianapolis where the Central Canal isn't too far away and with 16 Tech, the new tech park that will renovate Bush Stadium.
On the day I went to IUPUI Gymnasium, they were playing IPFW whose primary color is blue. I saw almost as much blue inside the gymnasium as I did maroon and black. However, the fans who were clearly for IUPUI were into the game from start to finish. One fan even takes pride in calling most of the plays during the game from the stands.
When it comes to fans, there's no doubt that IUPUI has quality, but their quantity is lacking. With the amount of success IUPUI has enjoyed over the past few years, I fully expect them to pack the house in the next few years. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see them need a completely new arena this time 5-10 years from now.
This is where it gets tricky. If you know your way around Indianapolis, getting to IUPUI Gymnasium isn't too hard. In fact, there is a visitor's parking garage attached to the facility.
It gets extremely hard to access IUPUI Gymnasium when you are not familiar with Indianapolis traffic. The main road leading to IUPUI Gymnasium is New York Street. If you approach it from Downtown Indianapolis, it looks like New York Street is a two way street. As I learned the hard way, it's not. Not only is it a one way street, it takes you in the direction opposite of IUPUI Gymnasium.
Another problem I ran into was the open parking lots. Since I didn't know about the parking garage, I attempted to park in one of IUPUI's open lots. But reading the signs posted, you had to guess if the lot was open to the public or just those with a permit on the weekends. Since most of the lots were at least 90% empty, it would be helpful if IUPUI would permit visitor parking on the weekends, especially when there is a home basketball game.
As a result, I parked all the way down by the White River where IUPUI's new student housing is. That made for a cold, cold, cold walk. So, before you go to IUPUI Gymnasium, make sure you locate the parking garage attached on the eastern side of the facility.
I highly recommend paying the IUPUI Jaguars and IUPUI Gymnasium a visit. IUPUI is certainly one of the fastest growing athletic departments in the NCAA and you are bound to come away impressed by their dedication to their basketball programs as well as their athletic department in general.
The staff is down to earth, willing to explore new ideas such as a ticket bus, and is fully committed to investing time, money, and efforts into their facilities which you will see as soon as you walk in the building.
When visiting Indianapolis, a trip to IUPUI Gymnasium must be part of your list if you truly want to see why basketball is king in Indiana.
I give one point for the renovations IUPUI did in 2007. They look great and I was really impressed by the natatorium that provided some great views before going into the gymnasium.
I give one point to the IUPUI staff for their friendliness. I also appreciate them giving out free programs to all fans as they walk into the gymnasium.
Member Review by paul
What is IUPUI? When the team first appeared in the NCAA tournament in 2003, many casual fans of college basketball saw their name in the bracket and had no idea where this school was. IUPUI stands for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. That certainly is a mouthful, but the most important piece of information that you need is that the school is located in Indianapolis, perhaps the best downtown sports scene in the United States.
The basketball team has also gained some attention due the charitable actions of head basketball coach Ron Hunter, who coached a game barefoot in 2008 in an attempt to garner support for Samaritan's Feet, an organization that provides shoes to the estimated 300 million people throughout the world that don't have this basic item.
A trip to the IUPUI Gymnasium may not be the highlight of a trip to Indianapolis, but you can count on a small, but dedicated student section, a passionate coach, and the benefit of many options of downtown Indianapolis.
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