New York City has a multitude of professional sports teams, which often causes the fanbase to overlook the city's collegiate teams. But the city also has a few historic venues that its college teams call home. One of these is located in the Fordham section of the Bronx on the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University.
Rose Hill Gymnasium is the oldest NCAA Division I on-campus basketball arena in the United States. The 3,470-seat stadium opened its doors on Jan. 16, 1925. At the time it was built, Rose Hill Gym was one of the largest on-campus facilities in the country, which earned it the nickname "The Prairie" since it was so big. However, today the arena seems moderately-sized compared to some other Division I stadiums.
The gymnasium is located right on Fordham's beautiful and historic campus. It blends right in with the other campus buildings; all of which have a traditional Gothic architectural look. It was also used as barracks during World War II.
Fordham is a Catholic institution with 8,000 undergraduate and 7,000 graduate students. Notable alumni include legendary coach Vince Lombardi, MLB Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch, and long-time Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully.
The Fordham Rams are members of the Atlantic-10 Conference with teams such as Temple University, Xavier University and the University of Dayton.
Rose Hill Gym was named by ESPN as one of the "Four Cathedrals" in college basketball. The other three are the Palestra (University of Pennsylvania), the Hinkle Fieldhouse (Butler University) and Payne Whitney Gym (Yale University).
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The gym has one concession stand in the corner. It serves basic stadium concessions like hot dogs, soft pretzels, candy, and cold drinks. It's certainly adequate for the size of the crowd and is usually busy throughout the game.
The food and drinks are very reasonably-priced compared to some of the professional arenas in the area.
You can feel the history of the building when sitting in Rose Hill Gym. What's better is that the fans are extremely close to the action. When there's a packed house, the crowds are quite loud and give the Rams the home-court advantage. The arena contains only one level of seats on each of the four sides of the court.
Even on the inside of the arena, the stone Gothic look remains consistent with the campus theme.
The banners of the other Atlantic-10 teams hang from the rafters as well as Fordham's NCAA and NIT appearance banners.
The Fordham campus is in the heart of a bustling area of the Bronx. Frankly, it can be very confusing for someone not from the area (and even those who have lived there for years). However, the area is teeming with activities for the whole family. Manhattan isn't too far for pre- or post-game fun.
The highlight of the Fordham section of the Bronx is Arthur Avenue, also known as "The Real Little Italy of the Bronx." The street is famous for its Italian delis, bakeries, pizzerias, and merchants. The food here is unbeatable. Be sure to get a slice of "New York" pizza at Full Moon Pizzeria.
Since the gymnasium is located right on the campus, the local bar scene is hopping as well. The Bronx Ale House, The Jolly Tinker, and Howl at the Moon are a few of the hot spots.
Fordham has die-hard fans, especially in an area that attracts mostly St. John's University Red Storm fans.
The crowd is a nice mix between students and alumni. The students make themselves known in the "Sixth Man Club" student section located behind the visitor's basket. They are quick to get on the opposing team.
Though it's Division I, Fordham just isn't as big as some other D-I colleges and thus doesn't have the student body to compete with other schools. However, that doesn't take away from the passion of the fans.
Getting to the campus by car can be an adventure, especially around rush hour in the city. With all the one-way streets, it's easy to get lost. There's always a lot going on, no matter what time of day.
If using public transportation, there are many ways to the campus from any direction. The easiest way to get to the campus would be to take the Metro-North Railroad, which has a designated stop right near the Fordham campus. The campus itself is very navigable and is worth the walk through.
Tickets for regularly scheduled games are just $10, and there isn't a bad seat in the house. Some high-profile games are $15 for fans. Students receive a discount on their tickets, which sell out quickly. Season tickets are also available.
Once again the food is reasonably priced. You may spend as much in public transportation as you will for both tickets and food.
Rose Hill Gym is attached to the McGinley Campus Center, which serves as the campus' student center, on one side. On the other side, the building connects with the Vincent T. Lombardi Memorial Center, the campus' multi-faceted athletic complex.
The university proudly displays pictures of its athletic teams in the gym's lobby. The arena houses men and women's basketball as well as volleyball.
Of note, NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played his final high school for Brooklyn's Power Memorial Academy at Rose Hill Gym in 1965.
Rose Hill Gym is chock-full of basketball history and is a must visit for any college basketball fan in the Tri-State area.
The Fordham campus is like its own little world in the heart of the Bronx, with the gymnasium as its oldest landmark.
As the university's slogan goes, "New York is my campus, Fordham is my school."
Fordham really is set in a great area of the Bronx with the NY Botanical Garden right across the street and the Bronx Zoo close by. Arthur Ave is awesome too for food. The campus is great and definitely worth a walk through. While the outside of Rose Hill has a great look with it's stone design, I agree with CigarBoy in that inside is not as charming as the other older arena's of its time. I also feel like Fordham is much better suited for the Patriot League or MAAC then the A-10. Though fan numbers are not huge, I was presently surprised to find a decent atmosphere during the game. I went to the UMass game on 1-13-13 and the fans really made Rose Hill rock as Fordham tried to come back in the second half.
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