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Official Review by Tom McLaughlin, Stadium Journey Guest Correspondent
Georgetown University is a private university of 7,000 undergraduates in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Jesuit and Catholic university in the United States. Georgetown's main campus is located in DC’s Georgetown neighborhood.
Over a century’s worth of architecture is represented from the revered Healy Hall, a National Historic Landmark in the Romanesque revival style, to the much maligned Lauinger Library. In 1970 as part of the Modernism movement, the Library, designed by architect John Carl Warnecke, is supposed to be a brutalist interpretation of Healy Hall. Healy Hall and Lauinger Library are located side by side on Georgetown's main quad.
The neighborhood is situated on bluffs overlooking the Potomac River, just 3 miles from the White House. As a result, there are some rather steep grades on the streets. The famous "Exorcist steps" connecting M Street to Prospect Street just off the southeast side of the campus were necessitated by the hilly terrain of the neighborhood.
McDonough Gymnasium, opened in 1952, seats 2,500 fans for basketball and has housed the university's athletics administration offices, sports medicine and training room facilities, varsity locker rooms, and coaches' offices. The historic brick and concrete structure is home to the women's basketball and volleyball teams.
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There are no concessions for sale. I didn't even notice where they would have been sold unless someone set up a table and maybe plugged in a crock pot full of hot dogs, but everyone seemed happy with a bottle of water and waiting until the end of the match to grab a bite to eat.
Passing through the heavy lacquered wood and glass doors you enter into a lobby with a portrait of Rev. Vincent S. McDonough, S.J., the "moderator of athletics" from 1916-1928 and so brimming with dusty old trophies that unless you are familiar with what a national championship trophy looks like, you're likely to miss Georgetown's men's basketball 1984 National Championship trophy. Less likely to be missed are the 20 plus framed NBA jerseys hanging on the far wall of the main arena. It is quite an impressive resume for such a small Catholic school.
Georgetown is a historic neighborhood but is constantly reinventing itself with a commercial and entertainment district located in northwest Washington, D.C., and is situated along the Potomac River. Wisconsin Avenue and M Street, just 4 blocks from campus contains high-end shops, bars, restaurants, and the Georgetown Park enclosed shopping mall, as well as the Washington Harbor waterfront restaurants at K Street, between 30th and 31st Street.
However it is the Tombs Restaurant and Bar, established in 1962, on the corner of Prospect and 36th that will give you a real college experience. Set in the basement of an 1800's row house and used in the movie St. Elmo's Fire, the pub serves casual food during the day and caters to students at night.
Long ago, men's basketball moved out in 1981 to the shiny seven year old Capital Center, which was torn down in 2002 and replaced by Magic Johnson's movie theaters. But sitting in McDonough now, on the 1990's plastic replacement pull out bleachers, you are still enveloped by the history of the building, extremely close to the action. The arena contains only one level of seats on each side of the court where no one is more than 25 feet from the floor With only about 100 people, mostly parents and friends of the players rooting on the home Hoya team, it still creates a buzz far more exciting than the barely 8,000 men's basketball regulars, not even half filling the cavernous Verizon Center they share with the three pro teams downtown.
The historic area is full of charm and narrow old one-way cobblestone streets, so street parking around campus is severely limited and strictly enforced. Most streets require a residential permit issued for parking for longer than two hours. A few metered spaces are available on Reservoir Road, 37th Street and Prospect Street. A limited number of daily parking spaces are available in the Southwest Garage and can be accessed via the Canal Road entrance. The University is also served by Metrobus routes. DC Metro Rail riders can connect to Georgetown University shuttles at Rosslyn and Dupont Circle on the Red Line.
There are no tickets as admittance is free, so you can sit center court, front row if you're inclined. A student clearly working off his partial scholarship on the football team will hand you a free program on the way in, while his teammates chase down errant spikes as ball boys and floor attendants.
The more than half century old building has played host to one of President Dwight Eisenhower's inaugural balls, dignitaries of many nations, bishops, academics, graduations, convocations, as well as concerts by Count Basie, the Who, the Grateful Dead, and Bruce Springsteen.
A construction fence circling the tennis courts just outside the gym displays a poster of the soon-to-be-built state-of-the-art 125,000-foot practice and training facility that will dwarf the old arena and also house a larger hall of fame used to recruit the next prep sensation.
McDonough Arena is a classic example of a mid-century, highly functional, on campus facility that has been relegated to practice and fringe sports by a new generation's need for skyboxes with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Let's hope more people discover and relish the quaint charm and echoes of the past clinging to the walls of a great old gym before they "tear it down and put up a parking lot."
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