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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Delaware State has been a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) since its founding in 1970. The MEAC is made up of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) located between Florida and Delaware.
Delaware State is the smallest of the MEAC schools with a little over 3,600 students and was ranked 9th among all HBCUs by U.S. News & World Report in 2014. It opened in 1891, eventually to be named Delaware State College and later changed to a university in 1993. One of their most unique programs is the university-based flight school, and it also has a fine business school.
The Hornets basketball team plays at 3,000-seat Memorial Hall, a fairly nondescript building near the front of their Dover campus. They have appeared in the NCAA Tournament one time in 2005 and twice in the National Invitation Tournament. In 2015 they played in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) Tournament.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are no permanent food stands in Memorial Hall. Also no outside food is allowed into the facility.
Near the back of the arena, tucked away in one of the corners, is a table setup selling some very basic food options. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, popcorn, pretzels, soda, water and Gatorade is about all you get. Local favorite Grotto Pizza will also be at some games selling their slices.
The recommendation is to eat before or after a Delaware State game.
The atmosphere at a Delaware State basketball game is pretty great. Memorial Hall is basically a large high school gym type of design. There is no concourse as once you get past the box office lobby you enter directly into one corner of the arena.Simple bench type stands surround the court on four sides.
The arena may be simple in design, but the place is very loud. The students, fans, cheerleaders, band and music DJ keep the fun going. Expect to also see the step squad from opposing teams, as well as the home squad, to provide even more of a fun environment. Many of the games will also be a men's and women's doubleheader, so check the schedule and come early, if possible, as you will certainly enjoy it.
Look out for the cool Hornet mascot wandering the sidelines.
There is no real neighborhood around Memorial Hall. The arena sits off the very busy DuPont Highway. You can see the Dover Mall and Dover International Speedway from the entrance. You can have even hear stock cars screaming around the speedway at times as you walk towards the game. A closed big box store is located right next to the north stand, with another still opened store nearby as well. So if you need pet supplies you will be good to go.
The area is good if you need food and sustenance before or after the game. Legendary local chain Grotto Pizza has a sports bar located across the street at 1159 N DuPont Highway. They have never been a favorite of mine but fans of them will flock there.
Other great choices include Capriotti's Sandwich Shop on Gateway S Blvd, Restaurant 55 at 2461 S State St, La Tolteca Restaurant at 859 N Dupont Hwy and 33 West Ale House & Grill at 33 W Loockerman Street. The Fire and Ice Bar at Dover Downs Casino is another choice for a drink after the game.
The gym is small and fills up quickly. Even students are often turned away because of the facility being at capacity.
The fans are loud and proud of their Hornets. When a big rival is in town, such as their Delmarva peninsula neighbor University of Maryland Eastern Shore, expect to see the intensity upped to another level.
The university is right off of a major road in DuPont Highway. A toll road, Route 1, which takes you most of the way north to Wilmington, is also nearby.
Dover is about a one and a half hour trip from Philadelphia or Baltimore, and at least two hours from Washington DC. It seems close by on a map but is isolated at the center of the Delmarva Peninsula. If venturing to a shore destination such as Ocean City, Maryland or Rehoboth, Delaware, then Dover may make a quick, enjoyable stop, but as a destination it is not the easiest location to travel to. Watch out for NASCAR weekends when traveling in the area; those weekends are not recommended unless you have no other options, as traffic can pile up, so leave yourself additional time in those cases.
There may also be tolls unless you are already on the eastern shore or Delmarva region. If travelling from the DC and Annapolis area you will have to pay tolls across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. If going around the top of the bay from Baltimore you will have to pay very hefty tolls on either Route 40 or I-95. And coming from Norfolk you will need to pay for the Bay Bridge Tunnel.
Parking is easy as you will be directed by university police to various lots around the campus. There is no cost to park, but expect a midday evening game to be more difficult to park because of classes.
Tickets run from $10 for general admission up to $25 for courtside reserved seats. Since the arena is so small the best bet is to just stick with the general admission level.
Just make sure to plan ahead since the arena is small. You do not want to be turned away at the door. Even students are encouraged to go online and claim their tickets ahead of time.
There is a Delaware State University Athletic Hall of Fame display in the entrance lobby. Although Delaware State is not super well known in terms of sports, the listing of the greats of numerous sports from here on campus is a nice stop on the way in and out of the game.
If you have never witnessed a step squad, make sure to sit down and enjoy their act/competition. It will blow you away.
There is really not much to Delaware State's Memorial Hall. A simple, small gym located in a pretty boring looking building. But the small, intimate size allows for a loud and fun environment for basketball.
Member Review by mmspatz on Dec 06, 2012
Looking at a picture of Memorial Hall in Dover, DE from the outside, you would probably think it was an academic building where they taught a subject like science or math. However, there is only one subject taught in Memorial Hall, and that is the subject of basketball. Located on the outskirts of Delaware State University’s campus, a public and historically black school with an outstanding College of Business, Memorial Hall is home to the Delaware State Hornets and Division I basketball. DSU, as it is very often abbreviated, is a founding member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, which was established in 1970. The now 13-member MEAC began playing basketball in 1972 and, since 1981, the conference tournament champion earns an automatic qualifying bid for NCAA postseason play.
In the 30-plus seasons that Delaware State has played Division I basketball, the Hornets have only had a quick flash of glory. DSU was the MEAC regular season champion from 2005-2007 and won the conference tournament in 2005, securing them the automatic bid to the 2005 NCAA Tournament. The Hornets also made the NIT Tournament in 2006 and 2007. Other than those three years, however, Delaware State has not made much noise in the conference, let alone the national scene.
In size, Delaware State University, named Delaware State College between 1947 and 1993, is near the bottom of the MEAC, as well. There are around 3,600 students enrolled at DSU, making it the smallest school in the conference. Meanwhile, Memorial Hall has a capacity of 3,000, tying it with Bethune-Cookman for the second smallest basketball arena in the conference. Don’t let the size fool you, though. The experience at Memorial Hall during a Delaware State basketball game is not something to just ignore, even though there are some concerns that come with the Hornets experience.
1159 N. Dupont Hwy
Dover, DE 19901
130 Gateway S. Blvd
Dover, DE 19901
859 N. Dupont Hwy
Dover, DE 19901
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