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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. It offers a variety of stadium favorites at a reasonable price. Fans can get a combo deal that includes two or more regularly priced items for $6.50. Not a bad deal at all!
The WRAC has a brand new feel to it. The facility also has a wide-open feel based on the arena’s high ceilings. There are seats located on all four side of the court, which give fans a chance to see the live-game action at any angle. The seats 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 are attached to the WRAC’s fitness room.
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.
LIU’s Brooklyn Campus isn’t exactly surrounded by a college town that some other Northeast universities have. The 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. But then again, there always seem to be something under construction, which affects the flow of traffic. The newest construction project is the $1 billion Barclays Center, the future home of the Brooklyn Nets (currently the New Jersey Nets).
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 the street from the campus and offers special deals to fans that attend the games.
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 Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal. 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. You have to stay super alert, because there are people everywhere, many of whom cross the street whenever they want regardless of the signs. This is typical of anywhere you go in the Big Apple, however. But don’t let the bustling area deter you from planning a trip to LIU. It’s all part of the N.Y.C. experience.
Single game tickets for general admission start at $8. There is no assigned seating in general admission, so if you get there early enough, you can sit in the front rows. Reserved chairback seats behind the two teams’ benches go for $15 per seat. If you plan on going to a few games, the best option is the General Admission Pick Six. Choose any six men’s or women’s home games, and you only pay for five.
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.
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 in the surrounding N.Y.C. neighborhood. Though it may be a smaller school, LIU will look to a perennial selection to the NCAA’s big dance.
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386 Flatbush Avenue Ext
Brooklyn, NY 11201
100 DeKalb Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201
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