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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Thomas M. Ryan Center, named for the class of 1975 alumnus and primary benefactor of the arena, was built in 2002 to replace the aging and undersized Keaney Gymnasium. The building is located adjacent to Meade Stadium on the western edge of campus, with the football stadium’s visiting side bleachers built directly into the side of the basketball arena.
The Rams have made the NCAA tournament eight times in their history, advancing as far as the Elite Eight in 1998. While the Rams have not qualified for the NCAA tournament since 1999, they have played in postseason tournaments seven times since then. A total of 15 URI alumni have gone on to play in the NBA.
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 several concession stands located throughout the Ryan Center concourse, which offer a good variety of arena fare for a facility of this size. Stands are organized by their menu offerings. Options include The Dog House, Specialty Pizzas, Mexican and Build-a-Burger. In addition to these arena staples, items including nachos, chili, chicken fingers and Italian sausage sandwiches are available. Fans looking for healthier options will find veggie burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches among the offerings. While the menu doesn't stray too far from your arena basics, the variety of specialty hot dogs and burgers available make these stands worth a look.
This is Rhode Island, and as expected, Dunkin' Donuts has a strong presence at the Ryan Center. Their popular hot and iced coffee flavors are available at all concession stands. Coca-Cola products are featured at all concession stands.
Fans looking for snacks can choose from a selection of candy, popcorn, pretzels and cotton candy at all stands. A small snack stand in the south end of the concourse features Dippin' Dots ice cream and a selection of snacks.
Fans looking to enjoy an adult beverage while taking in some action gravitate to the Rhody Pub, located on either end of the arena. The pub offers several varieties of beer and wine, including local favorites Narragansett, Harpoon IPA and Sam Adams. Both Rhody Pubs have decks which overlook the basketball court.
As is the case at many college gymnasiums, the atmosphere on any given night at the Ryan Center is highly dependent on the night of the week and opponent visiting Kingston on the night of your visit. Regardless of the amount of people in the gym, the staff at the Ryan Center put on a good show for the paying customers. Overall, the gameday presentation is a nice mix of big-time and small town college hoops. There is a giant video board located on the southwest corner of the Ryan Center, which dominates the view from most seats in the building. This video board is utilized well, from slickly produced pregame videos to crowd shots to advertisements, replays and stats. For those fans who cannot see the board well, ribbon boards around the Ryan Center carry updated game stats. There is no downtime at the Ryan Center, as all play stoppages are filled with music from the pep band, performances by the large cheerleading and dance squads, or some kind of contest or giveaway to keep the younger fans involved. A favorite of the Rhody fans is the cannon which shoots out dozens of softee basketballs rapid fire during selected time outs.
Basketball fans looking for dining or recreational activities within walking distance of the Ryan Center may be disappointed with the university's rural location. The URI campus is fairly self-contained, without a great deal of restaurants or places of interest nearby. Those willing to travel a short distance will be rewarded with many wonderful restaurants and sights. The Mews Tavern in nearby Wakefield boasts 69 beers on taps and an extensive bar menu. It is a favorite of the student body. In addition, Narragansett, located 8 miles to the south, Newport, 16 miles to the east, and Providence, 29 miles to the north, offer a wide variety of dining, lodging, and tourist options for the traveling basketball fan.
There are no lodging options directly adjacent to the URI campus, so fans looking to stay near URI overnight will need to leave Kingston. There are some options in nearby South Kingstown (don't ask me why "Kingstown" has a "W" and "Kingston" doesn't, it's a Rhode Island thing) and beyond.
The nearby seaside towns of Narragansett and Newport are worth a visit by any out-of-towners visiting Rhode Island. Newport is a well-known tourist attraction with many things to see and do, while Narragansett boasts many fine restaurants and beaches of its own. These towns are not as busy during basketball season as they are during the summer, but they are still worth a look by visiting basketball fans. Other fans may choose to head towards Providence for more action, or towards the twin Connecticut casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, located about 45 minutes to the west. Boston is about 90 minutes away from the Kingston campus.
As stated earlier, the crowd on any particular night at the Ryan Center varies with the day of the week and opponent in town. Rhode Island averages about 5,000 fans per game at the Ryan Center, just about average for the Atlantic 10 conference. The Rams clearly play second fiddle in Little Rhody to the Providence Friars, who play in Providence, but the Rams have their own legion of very dedicated fans.
As is the case in most college gyms across the country, the gameday atmosphere begins and ends with the student section. While URI doesn't boast the largest student section you will ever come across, they are most enthusiastic. They also come armed with props designed to distract the opponent. You would be hard pressed to find a student section that holds up more fatheads during opposition free throws than what you will see at the Ryan Center.
The Ryan Center is located on the western side of the URI campus in Kingston, RI. The small town of Kingston is located 29 miles south of Providence and 20 minutes south of T.F. Green Airport. Driving to Kingston from Providence will take you about 40 minutes on a normal Saturday. The campus is located on Route 138, approximately a 10 mile drive from I-95 as it passes through southern Rhode Island. Directions to the Ryan Center can be found here.
The URI campus is served by public transportation, as RIPTA busses have several routes that serve the campus from Providence. Visit the RIPTA website for more information. In addition, the Kingstown train station is about two miles away from campus, with Amtrak making regular stops at the station.
There are several parking lots surrounding the Ryan Center, and the vast majority of the 3,600 parking spots are free of charge. The one exception is the Ram lot, a small lot located directly adjacent to the arena, which has room for just over 100 cars, and also contains the handicapped accessible spaces. This lot costs $20 for URI games. Otherwise, parking in any of the other lots on either side of the building is free.
Most fans enter the arena through the North Entrance, which, since this is Rhode Island, contains a Dunkin' Donuts stand immediately upon entry. Fans with 100 level seats can proceed directly onto the arena floor and their seats. Fans with seats in the 200 or 300 sections will take a set of stairs up to the main concourse. This concourse, which is carpeted, overlooks neighboring Meade Stadium on one side, and opens up to the arena floor in one corner. Fans will have no difficulty navigating this carpeted concourse and finding their seats. Restrooms are clean, and lines do not form, except at halftime.
All seats are individual Rhody blue folding stadium seats. The upper level seats feature a very steep pitch, which ensures excellent views of the action on the court from all points inside the Ryan Center. The furthest seat is only 74 feet from the basketball court. The intimate design of the Ryan Center means that the building can get very loud, very fast.
Tickets to Rhode Island basketball games are reasonably priced, with prices starting at $15 for Mezzanine (upper level) seats and maxing out at $26 for Loge seats. Club level seats will cost you $32. Selected games during the season are designated as premium games, and ticket prices are raised by five or six dollars per seat.
Fans looking to save a few dollars can take advantage of package deals, offering two, three and five game packages at discounted prices, or a family four pack, which comes with concession credits on each ticket.
With free parking available and reasonably priced concessions, a night at a URI basketball game is an affordable option for Rhode Island sports fans.
The University's Athletic Hall of Fame is located in the Ryan Center. Plaques honoring the many honorees line the walls of the facility. Banners honoring URI championship and tournament teams hang from the rafters of the Ryan Center.
Another extra point is awarded for the design of the Ryan Center, which is meant to evoke visions of nearby beaches. The stair towers are designed to resemble lighthouses, and the carpets on the concourse contain wave patterns on them, as well as shades of blue and tan found on the beach. It is a very pleasing venue to the eye.
A third extra point is given for some of the unique aspects of the arena, such as the concourse that opens up to the arena floor, giving some fantastic views of the action, and the luxury boxes that overlook both the basketball court and football field.
The Rams play second fiddle in Rhode Island to their upstate rival in Providence, but their on-campus facility takes a back seat to no other school in the area. The mid-sized Ryan Center provides the Rams with a distinct home court advantage, and provides URI fans with an excellent, modern venue at which to watch the home team.
Follow Paul Baker's stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
Member Review by shamus170
The University of Rhode Island is located in a section of the state that is usually reserved for beach vacations. However, during the winter-time, many descend upon Kingston to watch Rams basketball. Prior to the 2010-2011 season, the last trip to the NCAAs for Rhode Island was in 1999, when controversial guys like Lamar Odom and Jim Harrick led the team. As the school and fan base grew, URI decided it was time to leave the 3,385-seat Keaney Gym for a new arena and they built a gorgeous facility next door in 2002. Ever since, fans have proven the decision to be correct and they've been treated to a state-of-the-art facility to watch games in.
Member Review by puckmanri on Mar 14, 2015
The Thomas M. Ryan Center, named for class of 1975 alumnus and primary benefactor of the arena, was built in 2002 to replace the aging Keaney Gymnasium. The building is located adjacent to Meade Stadium on the western edge of campus, with the football stadium’s visiting side bleachers built directly into the side of the Ryan Center.
The Rams have made the NCAA tournament eight times in their history, advancing as far as the Elite Eight in 1998. While the Rams have not qualified for the NCAA tournament since 1999, they have played in postseason tournaments twice in the past four seasons.
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