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Official Review by Tom Uddo, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Being one of the few Division I college venues on Long Island, the David S. Mack Sports Complex, home to the Hofstra Pride, falls short on providing fans with an exciting experience and has little to offer to the average fan.
The venue that hosts both the men and women basketball teams, as well as the nationally ranked wrestling team, opened in 1999 and has not had many moments in the spotlight over the years.
With a capacity of just over 5,000, “The Mack” gives the impression of being stuck in the middle between an ordinary gymnasium that would host high school games or a small-time venue for a college that is unknown to many; two identities that Hofstra is not.
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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".
If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, you might want to eat off campus. The complex features your typical foods; hot dogs ($3.75), personal pizza ($6.00) and cheeseburgers ($4.75). There are four concession stands scattered around "The Mack" and the lines rarely have you waiting a long time.
With the Pride playing in the Colonial Athletic Association, not many star-studded teams visit the Hofstra campus. Without the venue being close to sold out, the empty seats in the higher sections of the seating area kill the vibe that many of the fans in the lower seating area create during the game. However, many of the seats are located very close to the court so fans can have a great view of the game and there is seating on all four sides of the court.
The complex has all the elements of a college basketball arena; high ceilings, jerseys hanging from the rafters and some students in the "Lion's Den" student section painted the Hofstra Pride blue and yellow. Unfortunately, there is no pep band to liven up the crowd, but cheerleaders and the dance team take separate sides on the court to entertain.
"The Mack" is surrounded by what you would call an atypical "college town". Located directly off of a main road (Hempstead Turnpike), it is not safe to walk down the road if you are looking for something to do. There are some chain restaurants located nearby (Chipotle, Papa John's), as well as a few bars, but nothing worth going out of your way to see. If you have time, the Roosevelt Field Mall, the largest mall on Long Island, is just 10 minutes away and offers two levels of shopping, a movie theater and some pretty good places to eat (Grand Lux Cafe, Mint).
As said earlier, without the top college teams coming to town, the arena rarely gets full unless the teams are involved in a tournament. Crowd noise won't make your ears ring and it is a little disappointing on how quiet the fans and student section are while the game is taking place. With the student section located at the north side of the arena, when the play is at the other end of the court, they are quiet and not as involved with the action. Even worse, during the game and through timeouts, there is no crowd interaction with the PA announcer, forcing fans to sit back in their seats and look around for something entertaining.
Driving to Hofstra's campus can be very confusing if you are unfamiliar with the area. There are many roads to turn down once you enter the campus grounds, and the lack of signage to direct drivers makes it even more difficult. If you are forced to take the Meadowbrook Parkway, you can expect traffic during peak hours. Public transportation is available, but the Hempstead train station is a little under two miles away and shuttle services are hit-and-miss on certain days.
Single-game tickets to see the Hofstra Pride are $16, so it won't break the bank if you take the trip to the campus. Parking is free and the food isn't expensive. Overall, the prices are good, but the atmosphere inside "The Mack" may have you asking for your money back.
Perhaps the best part of the experience is the extras that are offered. Raffles, prize wheels, gift card giveaways, cheerleaders, a dance team, merchandise at the team store and other activities can keep fans entertained if their attention isn't focused on the court. A youth team often hits the court during halftime to give the crowd a break from the serious competition. Sometimes, the crowd will be more engaged and interactive with the younger groups who are only playing for fun, a sign that "The Mack" really doesn't offer the ultimate college experience that many are hoping for.
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