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Paul Bailey Pizzitola Sports Center

Providence, RI

Home of the Brown Bears

2.6

2.4

Paul Bailey Pizzitola Sports Center (map it)
Hope St & Lloyd Ave
Providence, RI 2906


Brown Bears website

Paul Bailey Pizzitola Sports Center website

Year Opened: 1989

Capacity: 2,800

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Puttin' On The Pitz

The Pizzitola Sports Center, sometimes called "The Pitz" around the Brown University campus, is named for Paul Bailey Pizzitola, class of 1981. Mr. Pizzitola passed away at the age of 25 from Ewing's Sarcoma after graduating from Brown and New York University. His family contributed $2 million towards the facility's construction.

Part of the Erikson Sports Complex on the northeast corner of campus, the Pizzitola Sports Center contains practice and game space for the men's and women's basketball, volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics, squash and tennis teams. The lobby of the building is named for football legend John Heisman, Brown class of 1891. The main floor of the center is named the Williams Court for Howard Williams '17, former football player, track athlete and assistant football coach.

The Brown Bears have played basketball since 1901, but have experienced little success in their history. They have appeared in the NCAA Tournament twice (1939 & 1986), the NIT once (2003), the CBI once (2008) and the CIT once (2014). The Bears have yet to win a post season game, going 0-5 overall.

2.6

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    2

Anyone who has ever attended any sporting event at Brown University will be familiar with Frenchy's. The ever present catering squad operates a small concession stand in the Heisman Lobby, directly to the right of the entrance.

There is a limited menu here, with hot dogs, pizza slices, and nachos the highlights. Assorted snacks are sold, including cookies, pretzels, popcorn, chips and assorted candy. Coca-Cola products are featured. Alcohol is not sold at this on-campus facility.

While the selection is limited, nothing on the menu costs more than five dollars, and most items are priced at three dollars or less.

Atmosphere    2

The game day atmosphere at the Pizzitola Sports Center is a laid-back one. Absent here are many of the fancy bells and whistles that fans have come to know at big time college basketball venues. However, the intimate setting more than makes up for any shortcomings in presentation.

While the crowd is on the small side, and support from the student section underwhelming, those fans that do fill the Pitz are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the product on the court. Youth teams participate in the pregame introductions and play a game during halftime. With seats right on top of the action, the cozy Pitz is a great place to take in some basketball.

While Brown basketball hasn't experienced a whole lot of success over its history, banners honoring their tournament appearances (along with banners from other Brown University teams) hang around the arena. Small scoreboards on either end of the gymnasium provide basic game stats. Music played throughout the game is at a reasonable volume, and it's possible to hear coaches shouting instructions to their players throughout the game.

Neighborhood    5

The Pizzitola Sports Center is located in the Erikson Sports Complex on the affluent East Side of Providence, adjacent to several other Brown University athletic venues. Also located here are Murray Field, Stevenson-Pincince Field and Meehan Auditorium.

Brown basketball fans looking for things to do before or after a game will find a multitude of things to do within a short walk of Pizzitola Sports Center. Thayer Street, the main campus drag, is only two blocks from the athletic complex, and is filled with quaint shops, restaurants, and bars. Nearby Hope Street continues the eclectic vibe of the east side with more locally owned shops and places to eat. Fans who would like to sample more of Providence's nightlife should head over to Wickenden Street or Fox Point, both a short drive from campus.

Downtown Providence is only a mile and a half away at the bottom of College Hill. Providence enjoys a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest culinary destinations in the country, and visitors to the area will find more than enough choices to satisfy even the most adventurous of palates.

Fans    2

Brown averages just under 1,200 fans per game, just under 40% of capacity. Getting tickets to a Bears game is rarely an issue, with the exception of when cross-town rival Providence College visits.

Basketball is not the marquee sport here at Brown University, but the small crowd is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the team. The crowd is made up of a mix of locals and alumni, whose energy makes up for the lack of turnout by the student body.

Access    3

The Pizzitola Sports Center is located in Brown University's athletic complex on the East Side of Providence. While the Brown University Campus is located near several highways, there is no direct way to get to or from Brown Stadium. If driving, one must navigate a maze of neighborhood streets before arriving at the facility. If attending a game during a weekday, Providence can be a tough city in which to get around.

Several RIPTA busses run regularly to nearby Thayer Street, and the Brown campus is just a short distance from the facility. Check the RIPTA website for schedules, fares and route maps.

Parking is available for Brown basketball at no charge in any of several small lots shared by the university's several athletic venues. A map to these lots can be found here. Fans unable to find a spot in the lot can utilize free on street parking in the area around the auditorium. Finding an available spot can be tricky at times, but patient visitors should be able to find spots within easy walking distance of the arena.

The Pizzitola Center is located next to the Meehan Auditorium and several other of the university's athletic buildings. Fans will enter the Pitz into the Heisman Lobby, which houses the concession stand, Brown Athletic Hall of Fame, and a trophy case. A pair of entrances lead from the lobby into the gymnasium.

The gymnasium features individual plastic folding chairs on the near side, with the remainder of the seating consisting of plastic molded bleachers. There is a small balcony with additional seating and, believe it or not, some luxury boxes. With only ten rows of seats on either side of the court and sixteen rows on either baseline, this is truly an intimate setting.

Return on Investment    3

Tickets for Brown basketball range in price from seven dollars for general admission seating to ten dollars for reserved chairback seats. Prices increase by two dollars on game day, and are sold for twelve dollars for adults and nine dollars for youth.

With free parking and inexpensive concessions, an evening at Brown basketball is an inexpensive option for Rhode Island basketball fans.

Extras    1

There is not a whole lot that can be considered extra here at the Pizzitola Center, but the school's lengthy history is worth a mention. Any school that can count football legend John Heisman among its alumni has certainly been around a long time. Brown may not have the most storied athletic history, but its contributions to college athletics are significant.

Final Thoughts

The Pizzitola Sports Center is similar to many of the small Division One gyms that dot the landscape in the northeast. While college basketball isn't the marquee attraction that it is elsewhere in the country (or even right down the street at Providence College), the intimate confines of the Pitz make it an attractive place for any hoops junkie to take in some quality action featuring real student-athletes.

Follow Paul Baker's stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.

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Crowd Reviews

Paul Bailey Pizzitola Memorial Sports Center

Total Score: 2.43

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 2
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 1
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 1

With the recent success of the Harvard basketball program, the concept of Ivy League programs putting on quality sporting displays on the court no longer seems anathema to the established sports world. Brown University, however, is not party to that resurgence of Ivy success. You wouldn’t have known that on December 28, 2012 however, as Brown played a stellar game of basketball to beat cross-town rivals Providence College of the Big East by a score of 69-68 on the Williams Court of the Paul Bailey Pizzitola Memorial Sports Center in Providence.

The inexpensive opportunity to see quality college basketball – and an emotionally-charged upset in a rivalry game – is probably the most significant draw to the Pizzitola Center. The building is well-kept and well-designed, with the level of accommodation one would probably expect from a middling collegiate athletic program. Dedicated in 1989, the Pizzitola Center is a functional facility with some perks, but overall falls flat on individuality and charm.

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Ivy Tavern  (map it!)

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