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John J. Lee Amphitheater

New Haven, CT

Home of the Yale Bulldogs



John J. Lee Amphitheater (map it)
70 Tower Parkway
New Haven, CT 6511

Yale Bulldogs website

John J. Lee Amphitheater website

Year Opened: 1932

Capacity: 2,532

There are no tickets available at this time.


Local Information


Epic Yale

Yale traces its roots as one of the oldest and most influential Universities in the United States. Founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School, the name was changed after a large financial donation was made by Elihu Yale. Those associated with the university are still referred to as an Eli to this day. The large list of notable alumni affiliated with Yale comprises 5 presidents, including both recent presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush, hundreds of other notable diplomats, leaders of business, inventors, top scientists and influential artists.

Yale began its men's basketball program in 1895 where they innovated and introduced the concept of using only five players at a time. Prior to this time up to as many as nine players were used at once. Yale was awarded the National Title in Men's Basketball in 1901 and 1903 by the Helms Athletic Association, since this was prior to the invention of the post season basketball tournament.

The Bulldogs play their home games in the John J Lee Amphitheater inside of the Payne Whitney Gymnasium where there is a capacity of 2,532 for Men's Basketball games.


What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

There is a small concession stand located just outside of John J Lee Amphitheater, where the home court of Yale basketball is located, on the south side of the of the building. It is gated with heavy metal bars although security is not necessarily a concern at Yale sporting events. Here you will find the basic stadium foods; hot dog ($4), popcorn ($4), pretzel ($3), pizza ($5), nachos ($4), peanuts ($3), chips ($2), cotton candy ($3), and candy ($3). Coca-Cola beverages are served here with bottled soda costing ($3), water ($3), coffee ($3) and hot chocolate ($3). Also be aware that the Yale concession stand only accepts cash.

Atmosphere    4

The concept of watching a game in fully functional gothic sports palace is pretty alluring to the fan who thinks he has seen it all. This venue is one of my favorites in the Ivy League and should be regarded as one of the must see places that dot the college basketball landscape. Upon entry you feel kind of like you just were given admission to one of the most exclusive social clubs, and in a way you were.

During men's basketball games many parts of the larger Payne Whitney Gymnasium are closed to the public. The overall size of this citadel is massive dwarfing even some of the large nearby campus structures and it houses several of Yale's sports teams. It was built in 1932 and is currently undergoing a massive renovation project on its exterior. On the interior, Yale's home court is filled with classic wooden bucket seats. As far as basketball venues are concerned this is one arena that historic rival Harvard just isn't up to snuff. Advantage Yale.

Neighborhood    4

New Haven, Connecticut is situated in a perfect location between New York City, Hartford Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island. The campus of Yale itself is one of the most strikingly beautiful campuses in the country. So many people visit just to see the campus they offer tours of it. The surrounding area near Yale has many great places to eat, drink or shop before or after a game.

Located only a few blocks from the Payne Whitney Gym is an equally historic food establishment, Louis' Lunch. It was here according to legend that the "hamburger sandwich" was created in 1900. This establishment originally opened in 1895, and has been in operation since that time and still makes the hamburger just as it was made from the early days of its creation. There are no buns served here just two toasted pieces of white bread and the burgers are cooked vertically in an antique machine to cook both sides of the meat equally. The other major difference is that the patty is made from a blend of several steak meats that are ground together. For $5.25 you can taste a piece of living Americana.

Even closer to the gym is Box 63 located just south on Elm St. This bar and restaurant has several televisions placed around to watch live events. The menu here is comprised of American comfort food mixed with fresh New England seafood dishes. Some of the items on the menu are as follows: mac and cheese ($9.83), fried chicken and waffles ($13.67), meatloaf ($14.67), mussels and fries ($13.67), and RI calamari ($10.83).

Fans    3

Fans here are rather knowledgeable about the game of basketball and the history of their school, but would you expect anything less from an institution that stockpiles some of the brightest minds in the world? Despite the fact that most basketball games do not sell out, the gym is constructed in such a way, by accident or design, so that a smaller group of fans sound like twice as many. I've noticed this effect in venues when the angle of the seating arrangement is steep, allowing the crowd to feel like they are on top of the action.

Access    3

The campus of Yale is located near the intersection of two major interstate highways (I-95 and I-91). From Exit 3 on I-91 you are only a few blocks from campus.

Parking is not that easy to find around the venue since you will be competing for precious few spots on the street in a busy business district. There are some lots in the area but they will charge you a premium price. My advice is to head slightly north and look for free spots on the street in that residential area. There are lots connected to the gym but they are not reserved for the general public.

Mass transit is also an option here as four New Haven CTTRANSIT buses have local stops a block or less away from the gym. These lines are the G, D, B and Z lines.

Return on Investment    4

Most games cost only $12 for the most expensive seat in the house, $10 for reserved and $8 for the least expensive general admission ticket. This comes in at the low range of Ivy League ticket prices. For premium games, i.e. against Harvard, prices jump to $25 for lower midcourt seating, $15 for reserved, and $10 for general admission.

Extras    2

With such a large successful alumni base, you never quite know who you are sitting next to at a game. The next President or Supreme Court Justice could be dancing and screaming at the top of their lungs next to you.

Final Thoughts

If the Bulldogs would have had more success in the last fifty years I am positive that writers would wax poetic about the facilities much like they do about the historic Palestra of the University of Pennsylvania or Princeton's Jadwin Gymnasium. This will happen one day in the future. Come see Yale basketball now, while it is still an unknown gem.

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Local Food & Drink

Louis’ Lunch  (map it!)

263 Crown St

New Haven, CT 06511

(203) 562-5507


Box 63  (map it!)

338 Elm St

New Haven, CT 06511

(203) 821-7772


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