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Official Review by Ed Pelle, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Sacred Heart University was founded in 1963 to serve the Catholic community of Connecticut. Located in the northern part of Fairfield, Connecticut this university has grown larger and larger every year since inception. As the university has grown, so too has its athletic programs.
One of the first breakthroughs occurred in 1986 when the Men's Basketball team won the NCAA Division II National Championship. In 1997 their current home for basketball, as well as other sports programs, the William H. Pitt Center was opened. Soon after, in 1999 the school moved its athletics programs to Division I status and the Sacred Heart Pioneers joined the Northeast Conference.
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There is a small concession stand near the two inner doors that are at the entrance to the arena. Here you will find the basic stadium foods: hot dog ($3), sausage with peppers ($6), pretzel ($3), chips ($1.50), and candy ($1.50).
Coca-Cola products are served here with bottled soda costing ($1.50), water ($2) and Powerade ($3). I highly recommend the sausage and peppers. It's served on a long, hero-sized piece of Italian bread and is very filling.
The William H. Pitt Center is located in the southeast corner of the Sacred Heart campus. It is a multi-purpose facility that houses several of the school's athletic programs. When the men's basketball team plays in the 2,062 seat main gymnasium, it has an intimate feel and is an appropriately sized arena for the program at this point in time.
Fans have no problem packing this small gym and the sound of their cheers has nowhere to go but back and forth in such small confines. The seating here is on long plastic benches but fans tend to stomp on them turning that into an advantage when the Pioneers needs a push.
The town of Fairfield is very picturesque near the vicinity of Sacred Heart and a bit more urban the more south you travel from campus. Located only 50 miles from New York City, this enclave is bounded by Bridgeport, Connecticut to the east and Westport, Connecticut to the west.
If you are attending the game with young children, then be sure to check out the Discovery Museum and Planetarium located just south of the campus on Park Avenue. This attraction features rotating exhibits and interactive educational presentations. The museum is opened from 10am to 5pm Tuesday through Sunday and admission is $9.50 for adults and $8 for children over the age of three.
For those looking for more of sports bar pre or post game in the area, I'd recommend Brennan's Shebeen at the Smith Richardson Golf Course northwest of the campus. The restaurant is open year round, even in winter when this public golf course may not be offering tee times. This is an Irish style restaurant and bar that has televisions with sports programming and several beers on tap. Saturday's special is prime rib dinner for ($17.95). They also serve burgers ($7.95), fish and chips ($10.95), shepherd's pie ($10.95), corned beef rueben ($9.95), and 10 oz. ribeye ($13.95). There is another location of Brennan's Shebeen a little further south past I-95 in town.
As the university has grown, so has their fan base. They generally pack this venue and support the team as much as possible. The next plateau to gain more exposure for the program will likely come when the Pioneers qualify for their first NCAA Tournament. They came one game short in 2008 from making this a reality.
Getting to the campus is very easy by car. The school is located just south of exit 47 on the Merritt Parkway. Driving north from I-95 is easy as well as it is basically a straight path all the way up Park Avenue with no diversions. Mass transportation is not an option for attending Sacred Heart basketball games. Parking is free and plentiful.
At $10 for general admission tickets, the Pioneers pricing puts them at the low range of NCAA men's basketball events. Parking is free for events held at the Pitt Center and concessions are very reasonable.
If you were to drive south past I-95 on Park Ave, the street where Sacred Heart's main entrance is located on, you would come to the campus of the University of Bridgeport, the NCAA Division II program that famously hosted the tallest NBA player, Manute Bol's college playing days. If you are one for doing unique sports doubleheaders, then this may be an option for you to see the Pioneers and Purple Knights on the same excursion.
As of this writing in spring 2013, Major League Baseball former manager and broadcaster Bobby Valentine has signed on to be the athletic director at the university. This is just another example of the willingness to grow the athletics program and take risks along the way. They call them Pioneers for a reason.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on Jan 31, 2016
A very basic snack counter and vending machines are all you get for food. Would not order hot dogs from here. Few fans despite reasonable prices and nothing else to do in the area. Nice campus, free parking, sit where you want. Only die-hard hoops fans need visit this one.
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