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Official Review by Jim Mancari, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Brooklyn Bridge is a national landmark that connects the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Located just down the street from the bridge, at the intersection of Flatbush and DeKalb Avenues, is Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus. LIU Brooklyn’s largest building project in the college’s 78-year history was the $45 million, 112,000-square foot Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center, better known as the WRAC. The home of the LIU Brooklyn basketball teams was built in 2006. The arena seats 2,500 fans and is in the same building as the university’s fitness center and weight room. As a result, there’s always something going on at the WRAC.
LIU’s Brooklyn Campus is the only unit of the LIU system to compete in Division I athletics and has 18 varsity sports programs. LIU’s other campuses include LIU Post in Brookville, LIU Hudson’s locations in Rockland and Westchester counties, and graduate schools in Brentwood and Riverhead. Nicknamed the Blackbirds, LIU’s teams used to call the Brooklyn Paramount Theater home until the college converted the building into a gymnasium in 1962.
LIU Brooklyn plays in the Northeast Conference with teams like Monmouth, Quinnipiac, Wagner and Sacred Heart. The Blackbirds made their first March Madness appearance since 1988 during the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The team was seeded 15th in the East Region but lost to No. 2 seed North Carolina in the first round. The program has been revitalized the last few seasons, so it’s a great time to check out a Blackbirds game.
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The WRAC has one concession stand located directly next to the main stands. There is usually a lineup as only one weary gentleman is serving, but you can find a variety of stadium favorites at a reasonable price, such as hot dogs for $4 or candy for $2. Fans can get a combo deal that includes two or more regularly priced items for $6.50. No alcohol is served here.
The WRAC still has a brand new feel to it, and seems larger than it is due to its high ceilings. There are benches located on all four sides of the court, which give fans a chance to see the live-game action at any angle. The benches are also located extremely close to the court. Fans can also experience a "Blackbird's-eye view" of the game, with upper level seating that overlooks the court. These seats come with seatbacks and are attached to the WRAC's fitness room and cost an extra $5.
The Howard Sternheim Ph'54 Student Section is located behind the visitors' basket. The school's pep band also sits here and fires up the crowd. LIU's dance and cheerleading teams perform during timeouts and halftime.
The main problem here is the substitution buzzer. It is very loud and they sub so often it becomes extremely irritating.
LIU's Brooklyn Campus sits right on the western border of Brooklyn, with Manhattan just a short trip over the bridge. Flatbush Avenue is always bustling with activity at anytime of day and now that the Barclay's Center is open, the neighborhood is more vibrant than ever. There are plenty of chain-type restaurants located right near campus if you're interested in a quick bite before or after the game, but there are also a few Brooklyn landmarks to experience. Junior's Restaurant has a full service bar and also boasts about its world famous cheesecake for dessert.
Visit Pipitone's Pizza and Pasta, home of the upside-down Sicilian pizza pie, for a true taste of Brooklyn. Smashburger is located right across DeKalb Avenue from the campus and offers special deals to fans that attend the games. The Atlantic Terminal is just a couple of blocks away and includes a Buffalo Wild Wings if you are looking for a sports bar after the game.
The arena fills up for most games, and since the fans are so close to the action, it can get very loud in the building. Though the fans are kindly instructed before to the game to respect the referee and the opposing the players, the fans aren't afraid to shout out their opinions during the course of the game.
Just like any college arena, fans are encouraged to participate in the on-court activities during timeouts and halftime. The seats in the arena are constructed of plastic and the stairs of metal, so the fans use these as noisemakers to rally their team or distract the visitors.
The LIU Brooklyn Campus is within walking distance of Atlantic Terminal, which serves several subway lines and the Long Island Railroad. If you're not sure if you're near Atlantic Terminal, just look up. If you see the Williamsburg Savings Bank clock tower (the second tallest building in Brooklyn), you're in the right spot. Public transportation is definitely the way to go when visiting the WRAC or the school's campus.
Driving by car can be very confusing if you aren't familiar with the area. There are many one-way streets, which makes it difficult to retrace your steps if you miss a turn. Even if you know where you're going, parking in the area can be very difficult, all the more reason to take public transportation.
Inside the building, the arena is at the top of the stairs, and there are no problems getting around.
Single game tickets for general admission start at $10 for general admission bench seating. Smart fans sit in the top row and use the wall as lumbar support. Reserved chairback seats go for $15 per seat.
If you include the affordable price of food, it's not too expensive of a day at the WRAC.
The LIU Brooklyn Hall of Fame is located right outside of the arena, which gives the WRAC a touch of the school's sports history. The banners of LIU's Northeast Conference rivals as well as LIU's championships adorn the arena's rafters.
The Blackbird mascot joins the dance and cheerleading teams in providing fun entertainment to the fans. Note the Blackbird sculptures above the door as you walk up the stairs.
In addition to serving as the basketball arena, the WRAC includes state-of-the-art equipment, such as a rooftop running track, the latest workout machines and an NCAA-regulation swimming pool with a hydraulic floor for aqua therapy.
LIU Brooklyn offers a competitive style of basketball that few hoops fans even know exists. If you are in NYC during the college basketball season, it is definitely worth an evening to check out the Blackbirds should they be in town.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on Jan 05, 2015
Another great place to watch Division 1 basketball in Brooklyn. GA tickets are $10 now, but you can sit anywhere, except the few rows of setbacks which are $15. Food options are basic, but cheap. A band and dance squad keep things lively. Fans are very energetic and had reason to be annoyed at the whistle-happy refs at the game I saw. Main problem is the substitute buzzer is very loud and they sub every 30 seconds it seems like, so I left with a headache. My hearing was WRACked you could say. Easy to get to on the subway and move around, the Blackbird Hall of Fame is a nice touch. The Barclays Center is just steps away too.
386 Flatbush Avenue Ext
Brooklyn, NY 11201
100 DeKalb Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201
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