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Official Review by Steve Stoehr, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Located on the beautiful York Hill Campus, Quinnipiac University’s TD Bank Sports Center is the modern, well-appointed home of the Bobcats’ basketball and hockey programs. While the top-ranked hockey team is definitely the team to watch in Hamden, there’s no reason to short change the very competitive basketball team.
Close games usually equal excitement, and there’s certainly some of that, but the arena falls just short of creating a truly exceptional experience.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The concessions are located just outside the basketball arena itself, on the concourse between that and the hockey rink. The stand itself is more reminiscent of a Starbucks counter than a simple kiosk, giving an almost restaurant-like quality and feel.
That sensation doesn't extend to the selection, which is fairly standard for a college sporting event. Prices are very reasonable, with nothing seeming to rise above $5.50, while nothing but candy clocks in any lower than $3. A decent snack and a drink will run the average fan anywhere from $6-$9, which isn't wholly unreasonable, but perhaps a tad pricey.
The design of the concession counter also helps mitigate line issues. Even during halftime or just after the game, when one would expect the counter to be mobbed, the wait was minimal and it was fairly easy to get just about anything on the menu.
The atmosphere at TD Bank Sports Center was frustrating in the sense that there was great potential, but it only clocks in at a middle-of-the-road level. First of all, the facility itself creates an almost professional feel. The building is very new, and it was obviously built with modern sensibilities in mind. The colors on the seats and the court pop nicely, and there is a great 3D trapezoidal four-sided jumbo screen hanging in the middle of the court, similar to something you might see at the TD Garden in Boston. The only poor choice to be pointed out is the drab gray concrete walls; a little paint would have gone a long way.
The crowd wasn't quite to the right level, though. While not as silent as a morgue, there wasn't that feeling of excitement and oppressive hostility toward the opponents that creates the rabid atmosphere most people look for at a college basketball game.
The student section, pep band, and enormous cheerleading corps helped mitigate that a bit. Though sparse, the students were very much into the game, trying to distract opponents during free throws and generally raising hell where they could. The band consisted of just the horn and percussion sections, but it did the job. Then, there were just so many cheerleaders. At times they drowned out the rest of the crowd.
As the game wore on, the crowd did get a little better. They made noise at the right times, booed when necessary, and generally appeared to be enjoying themselves. One more thing must be said about the facility itself: the acoustics make it echo a bit, but even a half-full crowd can rise to a deafening roar in that room. It definitely mitigates some issues that arise from lukewarm interest in the games.
Located in Hamden, Connecticut, QU isn't exactly dropped into a local hotspot for pre- or post-game activities. It's a beautiful little town, though, and it does a good job of showing off a lot of what rural/suburban CT has to offer.
Students favor Eli's On Whitney, a bar and restaurant located just about 3 miles away on the main drag off of which the York Hill Campus is located. Eli's has a broad and varied selection of entrees and lunch items, as well as an 80-foot horseshoe bar serving an array of beers, wines, and liquors. It's a great place for a pre-game snack or a post-game celebration, and is a better bet for getting food than the concessions at the arena.
Ristorante Luce is also a decent option if you're looking for a more private and romantic atmosphere outside the stadium. However, when looking for a real good time - or at least a real selection of options - most students and neighborhood residents go to New Haven, CT.
Quinnipiac probably fills only about half the seats in the TD Bank Sports Center, which is a bit of a disappointment. The fans that show up, however, appear to be excited and knowledgeable about the team and the game. They cheer at all the right times, and some of them go as far as to add a little bit, making noise during opposing possessions and such. The student section helped, but overall the lackluster attendance was difficult to overcome, leading to a thoroughly average showing.
The TD Bank Sports Center is located on Quinnipiac's York Hill Campus, which isn't at all hard to find. It's not too far off of I-91, one of the main highway arteries in Connecticut. I-91 junctions with I-95 in nearby New Haven, creating ease of access from points North (Rhode Island and Massachusetts) as well as South (NY). The York Hill campus is almost directly off of Whitney Ave in Hamden, which is essentially the main drag and is also the street that 91 empties onto when the appropriate exit is taken.
Ample parking is available just across from the arena itself, with an open-air parking lot and a multi-story parking garage. Even with school in session, it appeared that few, if any, parking problems arose. Bathrooms are modern and easy to find.
Is the TD Bank Sports Center the greatest place on Earth to see a college basketball game? No, it isn't. Would I recommend coming from far and wide to see it? I would not. But is it inexpensive, accessible, and does it provide you with a good opportunity to see quality Division I basketball? Yes, in fact it does.
Adult admission is pretty cheap at $11 for standard tickets and a mark-up to $13 for "premium" tickets. Senior citizens and children ages 2-12 get in for just $2. Season tickets were $110 for standard seats and $135 for premiums. In fact, the priciest part of the entire experience was the pro shop, where sweatshirts are sold for upwards of $35. It's worth the money if you're not too far away, that's for sure.
There are three specific extras that get the TD Bank Sports Center some points. First of all, the center also features QU's hockey rink. For those who don't know, Quinnipiac's Men's Ice Hockey team is having an incredible 2012-2013 season, ranking in at #1 in the country in the polls. The chance to possibly see a basketball-hockey doubleheader at the same facility is pretty good, and even if the basketball team disappoints, you're sure to catch some seriously good hockey.
Secondly, I saw something at the QU vs. Farleigh Dickinson game that I attended that also earns a point. During a timeout, the cheerleaders came onto the court and started tossing t-shirts into the crowd. Across from me on the other side of the court, a student fan was able to corral one that flew his way. To his right, a small child had been jumping up and down, hoping to get himself a t-shirt, and was disappointed to be denied. This student saw the child and immediately gave him the t-shirt. It's probably meaningless, but kindness like that warms the heart, and I'm glad to give the arena an extra mark for it.
Lastly and most importantly, the York Hill campus features some of the most amazing and breathtaking landscape views I've ever seen. It's located atop a high hill, and from various points around the arena, parking lot, and parking garage, you can see miles and miles of incredible south-central Connecticut countryside. Other towering hills rise up from the landscape like obelisks in the distance, and if you look south, you can easily see the skyline of New Haven and the distant glimmer of the ocean. I could have sat around for hours just taking it in.
TD Bank Sports Center is an excellent, modern facility for a basketball game. It clocks in at just-above average for its affordability, atmosphere, ease of access, and great extras. If the school saw fit to offer better concessions, this could be one of the best college basketball venues in the entire Northeast, even if the crowds aren't bringing the house down.
Member Review by shamus170
The often mis-pronounced school of Quinnipiac (kwin-uh-pe-ack) is relatively new to the Division I basketball scene as the Bobcats, as of 2011, are in their 12th year competing with the big boys. They play in the NEC, a conference typically known for competing in High School-like gyms. However, Quinnipiac (and Monmouth University for that matter) is changing that perception as the school built the beautiful TD Bank Sports Center in 2007. This facility comprises of a 3,570-seat basketball arena, along with a separate hockey arena, and is a great place to catch a Bobcats basketball game.
2392 Whitney Ave
Hamden, CT 06518
2987 Whitney Ave
Hamden, CT 06518
3352 Whitney Ave
Hamden, CT 06518
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