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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
Since opening in 1968, the men’s and women’s basketball squads have won approximately 80% of their home games. Originally named the Athletic and Convocation Center, the arena was rededicated as the Joyce Athletic & Convocation Center in 1987, and today is known as Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The arena is named for Rev. Edmund P. Joyce who served for 35 years as the Chief Financial Officer at Notre Dame, and Phil Purcell III, an executive at Morgan Stanley who provided more than $12 million toward the building’s renovations, completed in 2010.
Purcell Pavilion looks fantastic, both inside and out. The arena sits right next to the iconic home of Fighting Irish football, Notre Dame Stadium, across the parking lot from the beautiful Compton Family Ice Arena, and across the street from Frank Eck Stadium, home of the Notre Dame baseball team.
After years of playing as an independent, the Notre Dame basketball team joined the Big East in 2000, and shifted to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) for the 2013-2014 season. While the Notre Dame basketball program has seen a good deal of success, they have appeared in only one Final Four, in 1978.
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 isn't much to be excited about when it comes to the food at Purcell Pavilion, although you should be able to find enough to meet your basic needs. Hot dogs ($4.50), Johnsonville bratwursts ($6), nachos ($5), and soft pretzels ($5) anchor an unspectacular menu. Popcorn ($4.50 or $8 for a souvenir size) is available for snacking, along with candy ($3.50) and ice cream for those with a sweet tooth.
Along the concourse you can also find smaller stands with usual suspects like Dippin Dots and roasted nuts.
Beverages are all provided in various sizes of a souvenir cup with prices ranging from $4-$5.50, and filled by Coke products. Bottled water and Powerade ($4) are also available, as are hot beverages like coffee and hot chocolate ($4). You can purchase these in a souvenir hot mug for $6.
Notre Dame has traditionally maintained a very strong home court advantage. From 1998-2002 the Irish compiled a 51-game winning streak at the Joyce Center.
All of the seats in the arena are blue plastic with cup holders, and above average leg room. All seats are perfectly angled toward the court, so you should feel like you have a great perspective no matter where you choose to sit.
There is a beautiful area known as Heritage Hall with some very serious trophies displayed for many different sports, so make sure you allow some time to peruse the hardware near section 109 before the game or during halftime.
A center hung scoreboard from Daktronics was installed in the Fall of 2010. There are four large video screens measuring 18 feet by 11'10" with a circular ribbon board along the bottom which displays player stats. The screens mostly display live action and promotions during media timeouts. Four additional scoreboards are found in each lower corner of the arena.
For opening line-ups, the lights turn off and there is an intro video up on the scoreboard.
The pep band does a great job of adding to the atmosphere, and there are few fight songs in college athletics that can top Notre Dame.
The neighborhood continues to improve near the campus, with several establishments now available along Eddy Street. Options include O'Rourke's Public House, and Brother's Bar & Grill if you're looking to have a pint and watch some sports.
About a mile from this area is a family-run institution known as Rocco's. Here you'll find regulars to Notre Dame athletics, delicious pizza and other Italian treats, and wonderful hospitality. The restaurant has been around since 1951, and is filled with charm and many good memories for Notre Dame alumni.
Legends of Notre Dame is located in the parking lot toward the Lou Holtz gate of Notre Dame Stadium. They offer a good selection of appetizers, entrees, sandwiches, and salads. Legends also has a decent selection of beer with 24 selections on draft. Most of all, there is a great history and memorabilia up on the walls, putting you in the mood to see a memorable Notre Dame sporting event. There are also plenty of HD TVs to stay caught up on the day's sports.
The campus of Notre Dame is one of the most beautiful in the country. Try to allow yourself some extra time just to walk around the campus a bit before the game. You'll want to see the famous Golden Dome, Touchdown Jesus, and the football stadium, among other beautiful buildings.
Prior to the game, you'll see a pre-recorded video of coach Mike Brey, explaining that a new tradition at Notre Dame is to remain standing each half until the visiting team scores their first basket. Fighting Irish fans have not yet caught up, and less than half will remain standing for the first half, although most do for the second half. It can help to set the tone if Notre Dame can get a couple of early stops and score a few baskets of their own.
The student section is late arriving, and could help boost the atmosphere by being present and beginning to make noise during pregame warm ups. The student section, along with the pep band, can be found in sections 4-7, and definitely step up their game in the second half when the visitors shoot at the hoop immediately in front of the students.
The rest of the crowd is fairly typical in terms of noise production, but they are some of the most courteous in all of sports. Not only are they friendly, but they maintain sort of a hockey etiquette by not moving about the aisles while the ball is in play. It's a great example that more fans should take note of.
Perhaps the most surprising positive aspects of attending a basketball game at Purcell Pavilion is the cost of parking. It is FREE, an almost unheard of practice for this level of college basketball. There is ample help when entering and exiting the lot to help you get on your way.
You will most likely enter the Joyce Center through the Rosenthal Atrium, which features a large staircase (or elevator) to get you to the concourse level in the arena.
There is plenty of handicap accessible seating in each section, and aisles provide ample handrails to make getting to and from your seat easy as well.
Restrooms are absolutely immaculate - perhaps the cleanest that I have ever seen at any stadium or arena. They are also fairly large so you shouldn't expect much of a line, even during peak periods.
Notre Dame basketball tickets present a fantastic value. Upper end zone seats start at just $15. If you prefer to sit closer to center, tickets are only $20. Lower bowl seats are just $30, and "platform" seats are $40. Premium games increase in price by $5. During the 2014-2015 season, these opponents included Michigan State, Duke, and Syracuse.
Concession prices are a little high for the quality of what you'll receive, but this is easily offset by the free parking. Overall, this is one of the best values in college basketball.
The staff that work Notre Dame athletic events are some of the best trained and friendliest that you will encounter in all of sports. This is as true for basketball as any other event on campus. Someone will undoubtedly welcome you to Notre Dame. In fact, several people may do so. They will be helpful if needed as well.
The history on display throughout the concourse and in Heritage Hall is truly spectacular, and really adds to the overall atmosphere as well.
Purcell Pavilion is the site of the victory that ended UCLA's record 88-game winning streak. You'll also find a Final Four banner, from 1978, when the team lost to Duke in the semi-finals.
Take your time with this visit, and explore the Notre Dame campus. You'll be glad you did.
Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center is an excellent arena for college basketball. You'll certainly get your money's worth as you take in a program with more than 110 years of history, paired with all of the quality opponents that arrive during the competitive ACC schedule.
Member Review by paul
It's a completely different feeling when you arrive on the campus of Notre Dame for a basketball contest, as compared to a football Saturday. There's a feeling of serenity as you stroll through the idyllic campus on a late fall or winter day.
That serenity is shattered by the Notre Dame pep band as they erupt into the classic Notre Dame fight song, as the hoops team takes the floor. From that moment forward the energy begins to build slowly, although the students seem conspicuously absent from the equation. Even though I witnessed a game against a lesser opponent, it was pretty disappointing to see the weak fan turnout, especially from the student section. Indiana may be a basketball state, but South Bend is definitely a capital of football country.
Member Review by REVIEWS101 on Dec 13, 2014
NEVER been to Notre Dame or have stopped in Indiana; had a great time. The staff, view and food was terrific. they had goofy contests/dances during breaks in the action. They played Michigan in Women's basketball today and won 70-50. I recommend highly that you go if you haven't been before. Go Fighting Irish.
Member Review by REVIEWS101 on Dec 13, 2014
forgot, the PA system faded in and out and it could've been louder, other than that it was excellent.
Member Review by TromboneSwag331 on Dec 28, 2014
It is one of the best college arenas around. The fans, depending on the opponent, are always into the game. The same goes for the student section. It is also one of the loudest arenas too. When the fans and students are into the game, it is loud, exciting and also intimidating. It also has been newly remodeled (2010-2011). It truly is an awesome arena. With the jumbotron over center court, the fans/students yelling and cheering and with the best band there as well cheering, it is one of the greatest atmospheres ever.
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