If you have a bucket list for college basketball venues, then Memorial Gymnasium better be on your list. It’s unlike any other venue in college sports, and it’s in the middle of a metropolitan city that is on the rise. The fans add to that mystique with how they support the team, and treat the venue like it is truly a home.
Built in 1952, Memorial Gym is known for having some special moments on the court that are regularly known by the fan base as “Memorial Magic.” The building itself was originally dedicated as a World War II memorial for students and alumni killed in action. The facility can hold a capacity of over 14,000 screaming fans. The way the structure is built, it can hold sound in, making it loud even when the building isn’t at capacity.
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The food selection leaves something to be desired for such a large venue. It feels like you're attending a much smaller sporting event with the basic choices that are offered. However, the items are fairly priced.
There are numerous soft drink sizes offered, ranging from $5 to $7 for the souvenir cup. There is also Powerade for just $4. There is no alcohol served at Memorial Gym.
Nothing stands out in terms of what is offered for food. Peanuts, candy, and cracker jacks are $4. Your classic hot dog is $4, and an additional $2 will you get you a bratwurst or a chili cheese dog. Pizza slices are the most expensive menu item at $8. The most creative thing is the "Endless" popcorn for $8.50. Perhaps some expansion of this menu will be coming as the program enjoys more national success.
Viewing a game at Memorial Gym on television doesn't do it justice for how unique of an experience it can be when you're actually there. You instantly feel the mystique of the venue. It has the feeling of viewing a game in an auditorium, which is unlike anything you else you will probably witness in college basketball.
The court itself is slightly elevated from the actual floor, and this takes some adjusting if it's your first time attending a game here. The team benches are under the baskets on each end of the floor, which adds to the uniqueness of Memorial Gym. The old bleacher seating in the upper and lower decks add to that quality of being in a classic basketball venue. There are also theater-style seats available.
College basketball venues are all about tradition and mystique. All of the great college basketball settings have that feel, and Memorial Gym deserves to be in that grouping. When the team is playing well, the place can be as loud as anywhere you may go in college basketball. The excitement slowly erupts as the lights dim as the players get ready to run onto the court for introductions. The venue does a great job throughout the game of highlighting all of the players on the big video screen that hangs above the court. It's a sight worth witnessing, even if you're a fan of the opposing team.
You couldn't really ask for a better part of downtown Nashville for Memorial Gym to be placed. It's situated on West End Avenue, which is the southwestern part of the city. It's surrounded by a wide range of fine dining restaurants and more casual dining restaurants. If you're in the mood for a more of a sports bar setting, then I recommend stopping at Jed's Sports Bar and Grille. It's located within walking distance of the campus, and offers a great pub-style atmosphere to go along with awesome food.
If you want a more upscale feel, then Maggiano's is a smart choice for a top notch Italian cuisine and a huge list of wine and cocktails. If you're attending a day game, then you definitely need to go to Centennial Park and see its beauty. The Parthenon is also located in Centennial Park, which is an exact replica of the Parthenon from ancient Greece.
The area is also a short drive back to the center of all the action that Nashville has to offer on Broadway, so you always have that option before or after the game. That leaves you close to several hotels, including the Renaissance on Commerce Street, and the Omni Nashville Hotel located on 5th Avenue. To sum it all up, you're right in the middle of all the action when attending a Vanderbilt basketball game.
Memorial Gym hasn't become a venue that sells out every game, no matter the circumstance. Sometimes a sparse turnout can be the case when the team is facing a non-conference opponent on a cold weeknight in December.
However, you will still find a commendable turnout that predominantly stays until the end of the game. The student section is always a fun thing to see at college basketball venues, and Memorial Gym usually doesn't disappoint. Students at Memorial Gym certainly make their presence known. If you attend a conference game in February or March, then you can expect the noise from the student section to drastically increase.
The coolest thing you will notice about the Vanderbilt fans is how aware they are of what's going on in the game. They don't just simply cheer when a basket is scored. They cheer good defensive plays, when players exit the game to the bench, or even when a true freshman gets some playing time when the game is well out of reach for the opposition. There is also a sense of "family" when attending a Vandy basketball game. Everyone seems to know each other, despite it being such a large venue. It is very obvious that this program has built a loyal following in Nashville, unlike the football team at Vanderbilt Stadium.
Your best route to get to Memorial Gym is by taking Interstate-40 and getting off at Broadway, which eventually merges into West End Avenue. Traffic can be regularly congested on this route, so give yourself plenty of time to get to the game. Alternatively, if you're coming from the south, then going west on Interstate 440 will take you to West End Avenue. These are your two most direct routes that will help you avoid as much downtown traffic as possible.
Navigating through the campus can be complicated, like many other college campuses when you're not familiar. There aren't a ton of signs to direct you on where to go, but taking Natchez Trace will bring you through the campus and to a large parking lot. You'll have to walk a couple blocks to the entrance of Memorial Gym. There are also some parking garages available throughout the campus.
The most confusing part of the experience will probably be how to find your seats inside the venue. It's set up like hallways, instead of your typical arena concourse. It's like being in an auditorium. There are plenty of signs and staff members that will direct you to your lettered section. If you don't like asking for directions, then expect to get lost in one of the hallways that take you through the venue.
Tickets for a typical non-conference game will usually be in the ballpark of around $15. It's very challenging finding available seats in the lower sections of Memorial Gym as they're blocked off for the large student section that avidly supports the team on a regular basis.
You can expect the ticket prices to double, or even triple, depending on the conference opponent. For instance, a game against Kentucky or Tennessee could reach upwards of $50.
Concession prices and the ample amounts of parking options make it a very fair investment to witness a quality basketball program that always puts up a lot of offense and excitement. In fact, you can sometimes find free parking right on campus.
There is a hallway featuring what looks like a "Hall of Fame" for past men's and women's basketball players that have played at Vanderbilt. You can see a lot of history in this hallway, including former players who made it to the professional ranks. Afford yourself enough time to check this area out, because it will be worth it.
The unusual and unique quality that Memorial Gym brings to the fan experience gives this experience some extra points. Many college basketball venues are the same, or very similar. The ones that set themselves apart from the rest are the ones you really have to reward yourself to see in person.
A final extra goes to how perfect the surrounding area is for all of Vanderbilt's athletic facilities. It's situated right in the middle of one of the better parts of downtown Nashville, and there is so much to do outside of attending the game. Even the campus itself is something you should walk around and enjoy.
Any true college basketball fan should do themselves a favor and witness a game at Memorial Gym. It won't be your run of the mill basketball experience. The fact that you can turn it into a weekend trip to Nashville is just icing on the cake. Get to Memorial Gym and see for yourself why so many basketball announcers drool over this venue when it's on your television.
Built in 1952, Vanderbilt University's Memorial Gym is sometimes named "The Fenway Park of Southern Collegiate Basketball" based off of its history and heritage. But the Commodores home basketball stadium is not always so kind to its opponents. Memorial Gym is the only college basketball stadium in the country with the teams' benches behind the goals, as opposed to on the sideline. This gives a disadvantage to the opposing team's coach when trying to coach the game. Memorial Gym is also known as "The Hoops House of Horrors" and former Georga head coach Dennis Felton did not have kind words to say after a loss to the Commodores in Memorial Gym.
"It is illegal," Felton said after the loss. "For some reason, they are the only program in the country that is allowed to have an illegal set-up."
Illegal or not, the oddly configured benches are just one example of the traits that make Memorial Gym so unique.
I am always looking for a new and unique experience and that is certainly what I got when I visited Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym a few years back. Upon entering the arena I immediately discovered that the playing floor is more like a stage, and is actually above the first couple of rows of lower level seats. Fans in those rows are actually looking up at the game action. You don't get to floor level seating until you are seated in about the third row. Game management including the official scorer and the PA Announcer are also seated below the playing floor. I was fortunate to have floor seats along the baseline adjacent to the visiting team's bench. Yes, as stated in the review the team benches are located on the baseline which creates some unique coaching challenges. During my visit I found that while the students were energetic almost everyone else were more like casual fans cheering politely for good plays. The game I attended was against a non-conference team, so hopefully the fans get more excited when conference play starts and give the Commodore's more of a home court advantage in addition to the unique court design. Memorial Gym is definitely not your standard cookie cutter sports arena, but it gave me everything I was looking for. My trip to Vanderbilt's historic Memorial Gym was fun, unique and enjoyable.
Seeing a game here is unlike any other venue in college basketball. If you're into seeing unique venues, Memorial has to be on your list.
I'm a Tennessee fan and graduate, but I always give credit where it is due, and that's what I do with Memorial Gymnasium. I've been in hundreds of arenas around the country and world, and this is my favorite. Extra credit for being called "Gymnasium" or "Gym." More credit for having a permanent floor (not a portable one with soft spots). Going down the FANFARE list...as for food and beverage, they could serve dog food here and I'd give it a five. But as I recall, they have good food at good prices anyhow. The atmosphere? Without equal. Basketball heaven. The neighborhood is one of the best in the country -- in the West End area of Nashville. Vandy's fans are great, even though they look down on us UT fans. Access is easy. Everything else is perfect. This is what I look for in a college arena. A college feel (and a regal one, at that). Tradition. Quirkiness (such as the benches on the baselines. And the "balconies that Clyde Lee built" on the baselines. Way underrated and under appreciated by SJ.
A bit outdated. But that is the exact reason one needs to make a visit here.
Memorial Gym at Vanderbilt University is the most unique basketball arena in the country and maybe the world. That's not debatable.
I'm a 23 year old communications major who's been working with and in sports broadcasting since I was 14. Sports controls my life, and it always comes first without question. College sports are my passion, especially college hoops. The unpredictability makes it the most exciting sport in the country. Ever since I first starting getting deep into college hoops, I have wanted to witness a game at Memorial Gym. On Jan. 12th, 2016, I finally did.
As the main review says, seeing a game here was legitimately on my bucket list. No, not just my sports bucket list, my LIFE bucket list. Everything about this arena is different and unique. The baseline benches, the stacked up sideline seating decks, the pushed out baseline seating, how half the arena has benches to sit on and the other half has chairs (thankfully we were on the side with the chairs). The vocal amplifiers on the ceiling along with the huge Pillars in the corners make this exactly what it is, the most unique and interesting basketball arena in the world.
I live in Michigan where I was born and raised and bleed Green and White and #B1GPride. I find it exciting to travel to different college campuses and attend games, especially ones you have no bias in. We went to the Auburn/Vandy game and got tickets on Stubhub in the third deck on the sideline for $6 a piece. Our seats were absolutely phenomenal. We were in the third row of 3D which is the third row of the upper deck and in my opinion it was the perfect place to watch. You were high enough to see plays develop but did not feel like you were in the nosebleeds and we were on the camera side so the replays were not in the opposite direction (i'm picky about this, don't know why lol). The way the sideline seating is stacked instead of pushed out you are never to far from the floor which is really hard to accomplish at big conference basketball arenas. The aspect I really enjoyed was the fact that the only thing on the sidelines is the cheerleaders and two advertisement boards. Usually you will see radio and TV broadcasting along with the official scorer and others be right on the sideline which can clutter up the court. However at Vanderbilt, you can see the true beauty of the raised floor (which is becoming more and more common nationwide) with no clutter taking your focus off the game.
We also got to walk across the floor on the baseline to the other side as we came in from the wrong side of the arena. While it was still an hour or so before tip, it was incredible to see the gym and all it's unique aspects from the perspective.
Memorial Gym has the perfect mix of old school tradition, new technology, and unique variables which is the reason why this facility is considered such a difficult place to play. Unfortunately Vanderbilt has had an issue with student and fan turnout recently which negatively impacts the overall atmosphere and difficulty on the opponent. Imagine how much more strain it would put on the opposing team if Memorial Gym could consistently sell out and was packed full of passionate rowdy students in an arena that's designed to amplify sound? If that could happen and Vanderbilt could improve their program on the court, Memorial Gym will move even higher in the top toughest college hoops arenas to play at.
Also, Hog Heaven which is a very unique and fantastic BBQ shack is right off campus in Nashville. This place was featured on The Food Network and The Travel Channel and is the best BBQ I have ever had (I am from the north though LOL). Check it out if you head to a game at Vanderbilt. Prices are reasonable
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