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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
In 1985, under the direction of coach Rollie Massimino, the men's basketball team won the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament in the first year of the 64-team field. The final game, against defending champion and ten point favorite Georgetown, is often cited among the greatest upsets in college basketball history.
One year after that dramatic NCAA victory the Pavilion was opened. The Pavilion arena was originally called the John Eleuthère du Pont Pavilion. When that namesake was convicted of the murder of Olympic wrestling gold medalist Dave Schultz the current name came into usage. Du Pont is the subject of the 2014 film Foxcatcher, in which he is portrayed by Steve Carell and Dave Schultz by Mark Ruffalo. Channing Tatum is also in the movie as Schultz’s brother Mark.
The Pavilion replaced the Villanova Field House as home to Villanova basketball. That building still exists just next door and has since been renamed the Jake Nevin Field House. The Pavilion is also expandable as an indoor track facility.
The Wildcats had been part of the Big East since 1980. DePaul University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College, Seton Hall University, St. John's University, and Villanova University chose to split from the football playing schools in order to focus on basketball. In 2013 these schools retained the existing Big East Conference name, logos, and men's basketball tournament site while adding Butler University, Creighton University, and Xavier University. The football-playing members of the old Big East formed the American Athletic Conference. Much of the pre-2013 history is shared between the two conferences.
Villanova University is a private university located northwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The school is named after Saint Thomas of Villanova, and is the oldest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as it was founded in 1842. It is part of the Order of Saint Augustine within the Catholic church.
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 are some very good food options at Villanova games.
There are a few concession stands around the arena but many of them are not open even at full capacity games. I think it is mainly because there is a large open food area behind the south stands where most of the people gather pregame.
Hamburgers are $5, Jumbo hot dogs $4 and Chicken Tenders and fries cost $7. You can also get french fries alone for $5 with sodas a value at $3.
Local favorites Luigi and Giovanni caters in the open food area as well. They offer Italian hoagies and other Italian specialties. The items are priced from $5 to $8 dollars. If you have not eaten before the game this popular stand is worth the long line.
Not all Villanova games are held here at the Pavilion. They move a few Big East games a season to the Wells Fargo Center in downtown Philadelphia. That is a bit of a shame as the sound and atmosphere here is pretty fun. The on campus arena just does not hold enough people for the biggest of games.
The Pavilion is a very strange building. The ceiling itself is very unique with its hyperbolic paraboloid roof providing some unique angles. The seating concourses are split between four direction-based stands. The south stand is the student section. The east and west stands have upper and lower areas.
The Villanova team makes quite an entrance as they walk down through the student seating section during pregame activities.
There are cheerleaders, a good pep band and mascot. All the usual college atmospherics is in place here. And the crowd can get quite loud.
The arena is outdated, but it works. It is unique and somewhat confusing. The concourses are small at parts and shockingly way too wide also at parts. It is a fun place to wander around, but it is strange too.
Villanova is part of the Main Line in Philadelphia. This area has some of the wealthiest towns in the country, including Lower Merion, Radnor and Gladwyne.
There are many food options in and around the area. Peace a Pizza (4 Station Road, Ardmore, PA) has good pizza by the slice, often with some unusual options. 333 Belrose Bar & Grille (333 Belrose, King Of Prussia, PA) is worth a bit of drive for high end dining. Kelly's Taproom is the closest within walking distance and has many good food and drink options.
Wayne, PA s another popular area to explore before games. Pipeline Tacos and Teresa's Next Door are good options for food and drink respectively.
Of course the city of Philadelphia is close by so many options exist in that large city. May I suggest Philip's Steaks at 2234 West Passyunk Avenue for traditional Philly cheesesteaks?
Villanova fans take the game pretty seriously. The student section is pretty lively and the general stands are filled with proud Wildcat fans.
All games are essentially sellouts so the fans attend and do their part pretty well.
Villanova University is located on Route 30/Lancaster Avenue, not very far from I-76 (Schuylkill Expressway). Route 30 is busy but is usually not a problem to drive on.
Parking is plentiful across Lancaster Avenue from the Pavilion. There is no parking charge for basketball.
Public transportation is close by as you can take a SEPTA train from 30th Street Station in downtown Philadelphia to the on-campus Villanova stop. Check the schedules for night and weekend games.
Villanova basketball tickets at The Pavilion are sold out on a season ticket basis. Occasionally, individual tickets are available depending on the opponent.
Usually you'll have to find tickets on the aftermarket. Depending on the opponent the prices will vary dramatically.
No wonder they move some games into the larger venue downtown. If you can score a ticket to the Pavilion it offers a great value.
The roof of the Pavilion and the unique concourse system is worth a trip alone. It can be a bit frustrating to get from one area of the arena to another because of this unique setup. It is also a bit strange to see the seating sections arranged in such a dramatic setup.
Right inside the main entrance is a wall that commemorates the 1985 championship. Check it out as the team looks so fresh and young in the images.
There are plaques and trophies arranged in a few various areas of the arena celebrating multiple sports teams. If you go into the building across from the Pavilion there is a larger setup of trophies, especially the National Championship one.
The Pavilion is one of the most unique looking arenas around. It offers a great place to see some very high quality basketball in a fun environment.
Member Review by BucketList on May 31, 2012
An odd shaped structure with a multi-angled roofline that results in many seats with obstructed views. It reminds me some of Jadwin Gym at Princeton. The student section is generally vocal but the adult alumni tend not to get into the atmosphere even in close contests.
Due to seating restrictions imposed by their township during construction there are no tickets available except those being resold by season ticket holders.
There was ample free parking nearby across Lancaster Ave however there are rumors of a major construction effort there to create more campus housing so this may change. For public transportation busses run right by the campus on Lancaster Avenue and the Norristown High Speed line's Villanova stop is just behind those current parking lots.
The Septa Paoli line Villanova station is a long walk from the Pavillion and unless you know where you are going in advance I wouldn't recommend it.
Casual fans or those on the season ticket waiting list can always get seats for many of the games at the (currently named) Wells Fargo Arena at the professional stadium complex in South Philadelphia.
Member Review by Jba0088 on Dec 28, 2012
With all the talk about the “Catholic 7” leaving the Big East Conference, a lot of history and conference rivalries will be leaving with them. Teams like Georgetown and Marquette have storied histories with bigger than life coaches (John Thompson, Sr. and Al McGuire) that brought championships and national attention to small, basketball only schools. Of the seven schools leaving, Villanova leaves the Big East with its own piece of history. In 1985, as an eight-seed in the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats played the Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown Hoyas in the national championship game. Villanova shot 79% from the field that night, and defeated Georgetown 66-64 in what many consider the greatest upset in tournament history. There was also another history-making event that happened to the Wildcats in 1985. Construction began on The Pavilion, an on-campus field house that would serve as the home of the basketball program. Seating 6,500, it dwarfed the capacity of the old Villanova Field House and would be an appropriate venue for a national champion.
Initially, the Pavillion was named the “John Eleuthere du Pont Pavilion”, after its chief benefactor. That name was changed to just “The Pavilion”, after du Pont was convicted of murdering Dave Schultz, an Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler. It was built with a distinct hyperbolic paraboloid roof, which sets it apart from the gothic buildings on Villanova’s campus. While the Wildcats play the bulk of their schedule on campus, the team plays rival opponents like Syracuse and Georgetown at the Philadelphia 76ers home arena, The Wells Fargo Center. The Pavilion offers a great intimate atmosphere to watch quality Division 1 basketball, and the student section behind one of the baskets is loud and proud. While the arena might be showing a little age, it has character and good sightlines. Let’s take a closer look at what makes The Pavilion a big home court advantage for the Wildcats.
Member Review by hawkman2k7 on Jun 01, 2016
I like Villanova basketball arena at the Pavilion. It has a historic and nostalgic feeling when you enter the court. It's a very intimate feeling when you get in and the crowds are very passionate about their Wildcats. The access to the college was awesome because it was free parking. Go with an alum because it makes the experience a lot more joyful.
1107 East Lancaster Ave
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
1012 West Lancaster Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19010
1009 Lancaster Ave.
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
165 West Lancaster Ave.
Wayne, PA 19087
124 N. Wayne Ave.
Wayne, PA 19087
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