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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Lavietes Pavilion is named for Ray Lavietes, a Harvard class of 1936 alumnus. Lavietes, a two-year basketball letterman, was a frequent benefactor to the athletic program, and his generosity inspired a $2.1 million refurbishing project completed in 1995. This renovation resulted in a new lobby with trophy cases and indoor ticket windows, new locker rooms, team rooms, and coaching offices for both the men’s and women’s teams. Also added were an on-site training room and a second-floor lounge that overlooks both the court and the Charles River.
Lavietes Pavilion is the second oldest building used for basketball among Division One schools. Only Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym is older. Originally known as the Briggs Center, the facility was named for LeBaron Russell Briggs, who served the university in a variety of roles for almost 35 years, and who later served as the president of the NCAA.
The building originally housed Harvard’s indoor track teams. Harvard’s baseball teams used the building as well. Many Red Sox, including Ted Williams, were frequent visitors to the facility. Harvard’s basketball teams played in the Indoor Athletic Building-Now named the Malkin Athletic Center-until the construction of the Gordon Track and Tennis Center in 1981.
The Crimson team has made five NCAA tournament appearances in their history, including an active streak of four in a row from 2012-2015. The team made it all the way to the elite eight in their other lone appearance in 1946.
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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 is a single concession stand at Lavietes Pavilion, and the menu features a surprising variety of food for a stand of this size.
Hungry fans will find all the arena standards here, including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, sausage and pepper sandwiches, nachos and pizza. Fans looking for snacks can choose from fried dough, pretzels, churros, peanuts and popcorn. Items such as cookies, fresh fruit and cotton candy are also available to satisfy a sweet tooth. Fans looking for just a quick snack or drink can visit a portable cart located on the other side of the gym from the concession stand.
Coca-Cola products are featured at Lavietes Pavilion. Alcoholic beverages are not served at this on-campus venue.
There is something to be said for a university playing their games in an appropriately sized facility. While some may complain about the small size of Lavietes Pavilion, a larger facility would not fit Harvard basketball's needs. Fans fill the small gym to capacity on most nights, and this creates a much more vibrant atmosphere than a half-empty larger gym would provide.
Harvard's student section is packed to the brim on most nights, with the Crimson faithful standing for the entirety of the game. While the students come prepared to distract the opposition, they don't seem to have as much of an effect on the atmosphere as you might think.
The Harvard game day experience is pretty standard for a mid-sized gym. The pep band is excellent, the cheerleaders and dance squad are active, and there are other game day standards such as t-shirt tosses, shooting contests for prizes, and halftime games by local youth teams.
The atmosphere at Lavietes Pavilion tends to run hot and cold in step with the Crimson's performance on the court. While Harvard was making four consecutive tournament runs, this gym was one of the loudest around. Now that the team has returned to the lower rungs of the Ivy League standings, Lavietes has become a much quieter place.
While walking around Boston in the middle of winter might not be many people's idea of a fun way to spend an afternoon, the area around Harvard University is one of the more popular tourist attractions in the city. An ideal place for shopping, dining, or people watching, Harvard Square attracts visitors from all over the world.
Before or after a game at Lavietes Pavilion, take a walk across the Anderson Memorial Bridge, which spans the Charles River, and explore Harvard Square. For those wishing to bask in the history, architecture, and aura of Harvard, this is the place for you. Take a walking tour of the campus if you are so inclined, and take a picture in front of the statue of John Harvard, as thousands of others have done. Remember to rub his shiny shoe, it is rumored to bring good luck.
Visiting fans looking for places to eat pre or postgame will find no shortage of choices. Tommy Doyle's Irish Pub is a popular stop. Mr. Bartley's burgers is a favorite of the student body, and Russell House Tavern boasts an impressive array of microbrews. If you are in the mood for something a little bit more exotic, the area surrounding the university contains a seemingly endless variety of culinary options.
If you would rather stay in Allston, walk about a half mile south on Harvard Avenue, the main drag in Allston. You won't find the hustle and bustle of Harvard Square, but there are a multitude of shops and restaurants here to keep you busy. Allston is generally a safe area for walking, although it's not the most scenic neighborhood. If visiting from out of town, you will definitely want to head across the Charles River into Charlestown.
Surprisingly, for an area with so many colleges around, there aren't a great number of places to stay in the immediate vicinity, so look towards downtown Boston or Cambridge for lodging. Cheaper hotel rooms can be found in the suburbs.
Harvard averages about 2,000 fans per game for men's basketball. While this figure may not seem very impressive at first glance, remember that this represents over 90% of Lavietes Pavilion's capacity. If you are planning to visit for an Ivy League matchup, you will be well advised to purchase your tickets in advance, as these games regularly sell out.
Crowds at Lavietes Pavilion consist primarily of alumni and current students, as there is just little room for anyone else. With Harvard's roster of notable alumni, including eight presidents of the United States, there is no telling who you may find yourself sitting next to at a Crimson basketball game.
While Harvard University is located in Cambridge, MA, Lavietes Pavilion is located across the Charles River, in the Allston section of Boston. Also located here are most of Harvard's other athletic facilities. Even on its best days, the city of Boston is a difficult city to drive in. The most direct method for arriving at Harvard's athletic complex is to follow Storrow Drive from Interstate 93. Lavietes Pavilion is located less than a block from Storrow Drive on North Harvard Street, adjacent to Dillon Field House, tucked in behind Harvard Stadium. Detailed driving directions can be found here.
The recommended method of travel to Lavietes Pavilion is the subway, or "T," as it is called locally. The Harvard Station MBTA stop on the red line is a 10 minute walk from the Harvard Station across the Charles River. Several bus routes also stop at Harvard Station. In addition, the 66 and 86 bus routes stop on North Harvard Street, directly in front of the athletic complex.
There are several small parking lots scattered throughout the Harvard Athletic Complex. None of the lots are directly adjacent to Lavietes Pavilion, but none are too far away, either. Expect to walk the equivalent of a city block to get from your car to the gym.
Fans will enter Lavietes Pavilion into a small lobby which contains photos of every Harvard men's and women's basketball teams along with a small merchandise table. Fans sitting in sections 1-5 will head left into the gym, while fans holding tickets for sections 6-10 will head right. There simply isn't enough room to roam here.
Seating at Lavietes Pavilion consists solely of plastic bleachers without backs that run along both sides of the court, save for a few folding chairs courtside and along one baseline. With Lavietes' small capacity, all seats offer an excellent view of the action on the court.
There are a pair of very small bathrooms on either end of the gym. Plan your trips there and to the concession stand carefully, as long lines do form at halftime. The small size of Lavietes Pavilion coupled with the capacity crowds here makes moving around the facility a difficult proposition at halftime.
Harvard utilizes variable pricing for their games at Lavietes Pavilion. Games are split into Non-conference, Ivy League and Premium (UMass, Yale, Penn and Princeton) categories. Tickets are priced at $20/$25/$30, with youth and student tickets discounted at $10/$10/$15. Harvard students receive free admission to Crimson basketball games.
Parking in the many lots surrounding the Harvard Athletic complex costs ten dollars. Concessions, while priced a bit on the high side, are not out of line with other venues in the area.
There is a lounge at the far end of the gym that overlooks the court and is open to the public before and after the game, as well as during halftime. The Dillion Field House Lounge, located next door to Lavietes Pavilion, is also open to the public before every Crimson basketball game.
Photos of every Crimson men's and women's basketball team are displayed in the entry lobby, and banners of every Ivy League championship team hang at the near end of the gym. Also located here are banners honoring every Harvard NCAA and NIT tournament team.
As a facility, there isn't a whole lot that separates Lavietes Pavilion from the other small-conference gyms that dot the New England college basketball landscape. What does make it stand apart from the others is the fantastic following and capacity crowds that pack Lavietes on a regular basis. Harvard's recent run of success in the Ivy League and NCAA tournament has made Lavietes the hidden gem of the Boston sports scene. Now that Harvard has returned to the pack in the Ivy League, time will tell if crowds continue to pack this tiny gym on the banks of the Charles.
Follow Paul Baker's stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
Member Review by jonah
When one thinks of Harvard, there are a number of things that likely come to mind before basketball. History. Intellectualism. Famous alumni (a kid named Gates went there, and a kid named Zuckerberg, too. They both dropped out, but did okay for themselves). East-coast, highbrow, blue blazers and boat shoes. Whatever images the school in Cambridge conjures up for you, in 2012 there's a little secret I'd like to share: within these hallowed halls lives a darn good basketball team. Tommy Amaker has quietly built a very strong program since taking over in 2007, and Lavietes Pavilion, a compact and cozy arena, offers great value for your sports dollar.
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