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WLU Athletic Complex

Waterloo, ON

Home of the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks

3.4

3.4

WLU Athletic Complex (map it)
75 University Ave. West
Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5
Canada


Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks website

WLU Athletic Complex website

Year Opened: 1973

Capacity: 2,197

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Golden Hoops

Wilfrid Laurier University is normally viewed as a football school in U-Sports and the OUA (Ontario University Athletics). However, the Golden Hawks can trace their basketball history quite deeply and boast some national accolades as well. The Hawks were established in 1961 and have led a roller coaster existence on the court over the past 56 years. The Golden Hawks were quite strong in the sixties and seventies which coincided with 7 provincial conference championships in 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, and 1971. These were all earned when the Hawks were members of the OUA’s predecessor the OIAA. Basketball glory culminated for the Golden Hawks in 1968 with Laurier earning the W.P. McGee Trophy as Canadian National Champions.

All basketball championships were won before Laurier changed its name from Waterloo Lutheran University. Lean times were found on the court throughout the eighties and nineties and a bit of a renaissance was found with the Hawks in the new millennium. However, with the Carleton Ravens dominating OUA and U-Sports basketball in the last fifteen years, there has not been much hardware for the Hawks, let alone the rest of the OUA.

Wilfrid Laurier University was established in 1911 as a Lutheran Seminary and would morph into a full-fledged university as Laurier in 1973. The final name change which would coincide with Canada’s seventh Prime Minister, who had no local connections, would be filled with controversy and panned as just an easy way to keep the WLU initials, which belonged to Waterloo Lutheran University. This public university features over 17,000 students and is located in Waterloo, Ontario on a small campus in an urban area. Waterloo features a population of over 98,000 and is a twin-city with neighbouring Kitchener.

Not close to the same scale as neighbouring basketball schools in the NCAA, the Golden Hawks put together a simple, entertaining product in a decent facility for a great price. In the end, is there anything else that a paying customer can ask for?

3.4

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

Many OUA basketball facilities struggle with concessions. Laurier offers a bit of a different take on concessions. With the Athletic Complex also serving as the main recreation facility for Laurier students, the Golden Hawks have combined their team store with a convenience store and concessions.

The Hawks Shop is located just outside the main gym. The Hawk Shop has a wide variety of soft drink options as well as expected convenience store snacks. Popcorn and pizza are also available. A huge variety of Golden Hawks fanwear is also available making it convenient for fans to pick up some snacks and swag at the same time.

For many games, the Golden Hawks Lounge is also open. Just west of the main court, the lounge is often licensed and fans are able to purchase alcoholic beverages, while still catching any of the action through the windows overlooking the basketball court.

Atmosphere    3

The Athletic Complex opened on campus in 1973, not an era that boasted great achievements in sports architecture. There have been a variety of upgrades and renovations over the years, the latest of which featured the addition of a huge fitness centre. The main entrance to the Athletic Complex has shown some improvements with a permanent ticketing desk, which also serves as the concierge for the fitness centre. The ticketing desk is surrounded by a fantastic mural highlighting many of the great moments in Golden Hawks athletic history. U-Sports Basketball is a simple presentation that lacks much of the hoopla and pageantry of either the NBA or big NCAA basketball programs. That being said, U-Sports basketball focuses on the game itself and offers an intimate enough experience that the sounds and smells of the game are prominent for the fan in the stands.

The Athletic Complex features a northwest-southeast orientation. The main court has made significant strides with regards to fan comfort. Gone are the wooden bleachers on both the northeast and southwest sides of the court and they have been replaced with contoured plastic bleachers with flip up seat backs. The centre-court area on both the northeast and southwest sides has full, plastic stadium seats, which are much more comfortable than the new benches. All tickets are general admission. On the southeast wall the main scoreboard is featured with simple scoring along with tracking of players on the floor for points and fouls. Above the scoreboard on the southeast wall, are banners for each sport that Laurier participates in and lists their championships. For men's basketball the provincial championships are listed along with the National Championship of 1968.

On the northwest side of the gymnasium are windows to the Golden Hawks Lounge and classrooms and exercise rooms. The Golden Hawks Lounge features the plaques honouring members of the Golden Hawks Hall of Fame. Adjacent to the lounge is a large trophy case featuring the most current athletic achievements for the Hawks. If you want to get to the northeast bleachers then you need to go past the Hawks Shop and down the corridor past the pool. There you will find plaques honouring all of the athletic award winners from various sports.

The game day experience is very simple for the Golden Hawks. The bean bag toss is a popular halftime experience, and there is usually also a mini-game featuring local minor basketball teams. The Laurier cheerleading team often performs their stunts during breaks while also cheering during the game, and the Laurier Dance Team often performs at games and The Hawk, the Golden Hawks mascot, can often be found in the stands. However, the focus is almost entirely on the game itself rather than all of the other things that are going on around the game. For those hard and fast travelers, the simplicity can be a refreshing change. All regular season tickets are doubleheaders, with the Laurier Women's basketball team playing before the men.

Neighborhood    5

Wilfrid Laurier is an urban university located just up the street from another urban university. As a result there are a ton of great options for pre and postgame meals. University and King Streets are where you would find most of your options. There are a ton of great spots to get something to eat before or after the game. Some places you might consider checking out include Frat Burger, Shoeless Joe's, and Smoke's Poutinerie. The on-campus pub is Wilf's and offers a great atmosphere and food while being student run and managed. The place you probably should settle on, however, is Morty's Pub. Home of arguably the best chicken wings in the city, Morty's always satisfies your postgame craving.

As far as entertainment goes, there are a few options in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. If you are planning on catching a Laurier game around Canadian Thanksgiving, then you may be able to catch Oktoberfest. This is the signature festival of Kitchener-Waterloo and the largest Bavarian festival outside of Germany. There are a number of great events that take place over the 10 day festival at a variety of locations including the numerous Fest Halls. If you head south on King Street toward Uptown Waterloo a great spot for some evening entertainment would be the Huether Hotel Jazz Room. One of the top jazz venues in the province, The Jazz Room offers weekend performances at a great price. There are also a number of pubs in Uptown Waterloo that feature live music. If you are interested in enhancing your sporting weekend then there are also a few other options. Wilfrid Laurier also fields other athletic teams specifically football at Knight-Newbrough Field and hockey at the Sun Life Financial Arena. Just up the road, the University of Waterloo also fields U-Sports athletic programs. You will find football at Warrior Field, basketball at the Physical Activities Complex and hockey at the Columbia IceField. If you are willing to drive across town, then you must catch the phenomenal experience of the Kitchener Rangers at the legendary Aud.

If you are planning on staying the night, the Comfort Inn on Weber St. N. is just a short walk from the Laurier campus and is a pretty decent place to stay.

Fans    2

Assessing fans for U-Sports basketball is very difficult as many programs do not adequately report on their attendance figures for home games. That being said, for the most part there are friends and family at Laurier basketball games. The university definitely needs to find a way to engage the interest of the student body and community to increase the attendance at Laurier games. The game that was being reviewed was Senior Day and did have a larger than usual crowd. The students that were in attendance sat behind the visitor's bench and made a huge racket throughout the game, making it difficult for the visitors during timeouts. Games against rival Waterloo bring out more fans and the annual School Day Game brings hundreds of students to the Athletic Complex.

Access    4

Getting to the Athletic Complex and around is not very difficult. The Athletic Complex is located right on the corner of University and King. Entry for parking will be at the main entrance at University and Hazel. If you are coming from out of town, you will have a decent drive through the city as the university campus is a fair trek southwest of Highway 85. Traffic on University Ave moves fairly quickly, so getting to the gym should not be too much of an issue.

Kitchener-Waterloo is going through some significant construction as light rail transit is on its way. Until that point, there are a number of bus routes that travel along King St and University Ave. Check the Grand River Transit website for maps and schedules.

Parking is available in the main lot by the Athletic Complex. It is a little busier on a weeknight when classes are in session. Worst case scenario, however, is for fans to park on the other side of Alumni Field, by the Science Building, which usually has open spaces. Parking is free, but fans should be conscious of parking in a permit spot during the wrong time.

Ticketing is located at the main entry of the Athletic Complex at the fitness desk. Credit and debit cards are accepted for those not pre-purchasing tickets.

Finding a spot in the general admission grandstands is not too difficult. However, washroom facilities and access to the northwest grandstand requires fans to go around the Hawk Shop and down the breezeway, alongside the pool to the other side.

Return on Investment    5

U-Sports basketball is a great investment with a solid return. Tickets for Golden Hawks basketball will run you $8 for an adult. Each ticket during the regular season is a doubleheader with the women's game playing before the men. For non-Laurier students, seniors and alumni, the cost of a ticket is $6. Children under 12 are free of charge. It is not really possible to beat the value that the fan is getting at a Laurier basketball game. Concession prices are good and parking is free. Combine that with an extremely under-rated athletic product and you have a recipe for a great evening or afternoon of entertainment.

Extras    2

An extra mark for Wlfrid Laurier University and their simple, traditional approach to presenting basketball.

An extra mark for the unique Golden Hawk mascot, which has an interesting history.

Final Thoughts

The experience of Laurier Golden Hawks basketball may not blow fans away like a professional or big-time NCAA game would. However, a Laurier basketball game is a nice afternoon or evening's entertainment and for the price that fans are expected to shell out, there isn't too much more that fans can ask for. A few more people in the stands would make the Laurier basketball experience even better.

Follow all of Dave's sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9 and on Instagram.

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Crowd Reviews

Golden Hoops

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 2

Although normally thought of as a football school, Wilfrid Laurier University has a basketball tradition that dates back to the sixties when the team was established in what was then the CIAU. Over time the school name has changed from Waterloo Lutheran University to Wilfrid Laurier University, and the league name has changed from CIAU to CIS. The Golden Hawks have had a bit of a checkered basketball past, but they did see a great deal of success in the sixties, which culminated in a CIAU National Championship in 1968. They also achieved 7 provincial championships in their previous conference, the OIAA. Now members of the OUA along with all of the other Ontario Universities, Laurier continues its basketball tradition and continues to strive to get to the next level amid a myriad of high power basketball schools. In recent years the Golden Hawks have been attempting to take their program to the next level with OUA all-star players like Will Coulthard, Max Allin and Kale Harrison.

Wilfrid Laurier University was established in 1911 as a Lutheran Seminary and would morph into a full-fledged university as Laurier in 1973. The final name change which would coincide with Canada’s seventh Prime Minister, who had no local connections, would be filled with controversy and panned as just an easy way to keep the WLU initials, which belonged to Waterloo Lutheran University. This public university features over 17,000 students and is located in Waterloo, Ontario on a small campus in an urban area. Waterloo features a population of over 98,000 and is a twin-city with neighbouring Kitchener.

Not close to the same scale as neighbouring basketball schools in the NCAA, the Golden Hawks put together a simple, entertaining product in a decent facility for a great price. In the end, is there anything else that a paying customer can ask for?

Golden Hoops

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 2

Although normally thought of as a football school, Wilfrid Laurier University has a basketball tradition that dates back to the sixties when the team was established in what was then the CIAU. Over time the school name has changed from Waterloo Lutheran University to Wilfrid Laurier University, and the league name has changed from CIAU to CIS. The Golden Hawks have had a bit of a checkered basketball past, but they did see a great deal of success in the sixties, which culminated in a CIAU National Championship in 1968. They also achieved 7 provincial championships in their previous conference, the OIAA. Now members of the OUA along with all of the other Ontario Universities, Laurier continues its basketball tradition and continues to strive to get to the next level amid a myriad of high power basketball schools. In recent years the Golden Hawks have been attempting to take their program to the next level with OUA all-star players like Will Coulthard, Max Allin and Kale Harrison.

Wilfrid Laurier University was established in 1911 as a Lutheran Seminary and would morph into a full-fledged university as Laurier in 1973. The final name change which would coincide with Canada’s seventh Prime Minister, who had no local connections, would be filled with controversy and panned as just an easy way to keep the WLU initials, which belonged to Waterloo Lutheran University. This public university features over 17,000 students and is located in Waterloo, Ontario on a small campus in an urban area. Waterloo features a population of over 98,000 and is a twin-city with neighbouring Kitchener.

Not close to the same scale as neighbouring basketball schools in the NCAA, the Golden Hawks put together a simple, entertaining product in a decent facility for a great price. In the end, is there anything else that a paying customer can ask for?

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Local Food & Drink

Morty's Pub  (map it!)

272 King St. North

Waterloo, ON N2J 2Y9

(519) 886-0440

http://www.mortys.com

Frites  (map it!)

258 King St. North

Waterloo, ON N2J 2Y9

(519) 886-9000

http://www.frieswithbenefits.com/

Wilf's  (map it!)

75 University Ave. West

Waterloo, ON N2L 3B4

(519) 884-1970

http://www.wlusu.com/wilfs-restaurant-bar/

Symposium Cafe  (map it!)

4 King St. North

Waterloo, ON N2J 2W7

(519) 746-3550

http://symposiumcafe.com/waterloorestaurants.html

Heuther Hotel  (map it!)

59 King St. North

Waterloo, ON N2J 2X2

(519) 886-3350

http://huetherhotel.com/

Duke of Wellington  (map it!)

33 Erb St. West

Waterlo, ON N2L 1S8

(519) 886-9370

http://www.dukeofwellingtonpubs.com/

Beertown  (map it!)

75 King St. South

Waterloo, ON N2J 2W7

(519) 885-5151

http://www.beertown.ca/

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