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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The third annual Hoopsville National Invitational Classic is held at the Owings Mills athletic complex for Stevenson University. The event is the largest on-campus basketball tournament in any division of the NCAA.
For 2014, the field was Catholic University, Cabrini College, University of Chicago, Gwynedd Mercy University, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, State University of New York at Purchase, Randolph–Macon College, Stevenson University, Wittenberg University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Host school Stevenson University was originally known as Villa Julie College. It has always been a bit of a quirky place. Originally located in the Greenspring Valley of Baltimore County and its Stevenson neighborhood, the college was an all-girls school until 1972 and did not even offer bachelor degrees until 1984. It also was entirely non-residential.
But eventually the college desired to add housing and more of just about everything, so a new campus was added in Owings Mills. This expansion dramatically increased the college’s offerings and student population. In 2008, they decided they needed a new identity and changed their name to Stevenson University.
The Owings Mills campus just happened to be right next door to the old Baltimore Colts training facility. Stevenson acquired the building and the land and used it as the center of their athletic department. In 2006 it re-opened as the Caves Sports and Wellness Center. Some of the locker rooms and facilities are similar to the ones left behind by the Baltimore Ravens (the last professional football team to use the building), with necessary remodeling done. The training center was also home of the Canadian Football League champions, the Baltimore Stallions between 1994 and 1995.
In 2010, Stevenson opened the Owings Mills Gymnasium, as they moved their basketball games from an antiquated gym on the old Villa Julie part of their campus. The university also added 3,500 seat Mustang Stadium next door in 2011.
Stevenson University is still in the midst of expanding. They are trying to add land from the nearby Rosewood State Hospital, a now closed institution for people with developmental disabilities. Until then, the grounds of Rosewood is a fascinating ghost town type complex. And it is super creepy. Talks and negotiations for the proposed purchase of this land seems to be at a standstill, but it should eventually happen. It makes sense for it to eventually happen as Stevenson wants the land and there may be no other major suitors.
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A very small and basic food stand is located on the concourse. Don't expect much. Hot dogs are $3, nachos $4 and soda $2. You might be better off leaving the facility and walking to one of the many options in the close vicinity of the university instead of spending much money here.
The gymnasium has a very basic single grandstand on each side of the court with an outside concourse between the two areas. All seats are bleacher type.
The gymnasium can get loud depending on the teams playing in the tournament.
Owings Mills is a suburb of Baltimore. So there are plenty of shopping centers and restaurants in the area. A couple of well stocked places are within easy walking distance.
The closest options for places to go for food are Edo Mae Sushi (10995 Owings Mills Blvd), Five Guys Burgers and Fries (10902 Boulevard Circle) and Courtney's Bagel Cafe and Deli (11000 Owings Mills Blvd).
The innovative Stone's Cove Kitbar (10997 Owings Mills Blvd) is also quite close. What is a Kitbar? According to their website it "combines the design of a kitchen and a bar to create one large communal table that surrounds the restaurant's kitchen, putting guests right in the middle of the action." I just call it good. Their flatbreads, shrimp and grits, and lobster roll cones have to be tried. If you are legal drinking age one should also try out the Cucumber Basil Martini.
The fan atmosphere will depend on the game and the fans of each team. I attended one game between a university located in nearby Washington, DC and one located outside of Philadelphia. There were plenty of fans in attendance as those universities are both close by.
But if you watch a game between two far away teams expect it to be a bit more quiet.
Owings Mills Boulevard has an exit off of nearby Interstate 795. The stadium is a pretty quick, one mile trip from the highway. I worried about traffic in an area that is pretty busy even on normal days, but the traffic was no problem.
The university has plenty of parking in the area and there are no issues here. Parking is free.
The Owings Mills Station of the Baltimore Metro subway system is located about a mile away from campus.
A Three-Day Pass is $15.00. $7.00 will get you in on a daily basis. To see up to four college basketball games played by fairly high level college programs is a great value. Combined with the free parking, a fan has almost no reason not to attend the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic.
The former home of three professional football teams (Baltimore Colts, Baltimore Stallions and Baltimore Ravens), the Caves Sports and Wellness Center is worth a quick trip just outside the gym entrance. Try to remember 1984 and the pain and struggle that local football fans went through for years after the Colts moved away on a snowy night from this very location. Next to Mustang Stadium is a statue of a mustang, the university's mascot. This is a good meet up spot and photo opportunity.
Inside the Owings Mills Gymnasium concourse is a very nicely detailed Stevenson University Athletic Hall of Fame.
You seldom get to see this large of quality basketball programs in one location. A fan of basketball will want to make their way to Owings Mills, MD on a yearly basis to see this fine basketball event.
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10995 Owings Mills Blvd
Owings Mills, MD 21117
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