Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Alumni Hall US Naval Academy Annapolis, MD 21402
Year Opened: 1991
The United States Naval Academy began in 1845, originally as the Naval School. Located on the site of old Fort Severn, the academy replaced the Philadelphia Naval Asylum as the training center for Navy personnel. The 338-acre campus is located on the Severn River in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. The entire campus is a National Historic Landmark.
Students are nominated for placement into the Naval Academy. If accepted, they become officers-in-training and are referred to as midshipmen. Tuition for midshipmen is fully funded by the Navy in exchange for an active duty service obligation upon graduation. Graduates usually become ensigns in the Navy or second lieutenants in the Marine Corps.
Participation in athletics is mandatory at the Naval Academy. Although most students participate in intramural or club sports, the academy is known for its many intercollegiate sporting endeavors. The academy fields 30 varsity sports teams, a larger number than at many colleges and universities. There are an additional 13 club sports teams. The intercollegiate teams generally participate at the Division I level. Football is soon to join the American Athletic Conference, whereas basketball and many sports are part of the Patriot League.
Annapolis is the capital of the state of Maryland, as well as the county seat of Anne Arundel County. The city served as the seat of the Continental Congress from 1783 to 1784, becoming the temporary capital of the United States. Annapolis currently has a population of 38,394 and is the seventh-largest incorporated city in Maryland.
The basketball teams have called Alumni Hall home since 1991. From 1956 until 1990, the teams played at Halsey Field House. Halsey is now home to indoor track and field teams, as well as other athletic programs. It contains a 200-meter synthetic track, squash and tennis courts, and a 65-tatami dojo for Aikido/Judo.
Food & Beverage 2
There are a few outer concourse stands, although not all will be open depending on the size of the event. There is also a small concession stand located inside the main concourse.
There is not a huge amount of variety, but the prices are very fair. Hot dogs ($3), pretzels ($4), and whole Papa John’s pizzas ($8) are the main extents of options. Candy ($2) and water/soda ($3) pretty much round out the simple options.
The stands surround the court, as the facility was designed for basketball primarily. All seats will offer good views of the action. The upper decks were not in use at the game I attended, as a mid-Atlantic snowstorm meant that a pretty small crowd was expected.
There are class crests that are mounted below all of the upper deck seating. It is a good idea to travel the entire inner concourse to take a look at each of these symbols.
There is a pretty engaged group of cheerleaders at Navy games. They even throw out t-shirts for every three-pointer made by the Midshipmen.
Instead of a traditional pep band, the Navy has a drum and bugle corps to keep fans entertained during the game. They sound very good.
Alumni Hall has a very nice, relatively new scoreboard and video board. It is state-of-the-art and shows stats, highlights, and entertainment throughout the game.
The mascot for the Naval Academy is Bill the Goat. A “stuffed” version of Bill is at the game and is mobbed constantly by the kids in attendance. Since the Navy encourages kids to have birthday parties and other group events at the game, there will be many kids at every game.
Right outside of Alumni Hall, you will find yourself in the heart of the amazing US Naval Academy campus. If you have time, you should wander around the beautiful grounds and see where the Navy elite train. The US Naval Academy Museum is almost across the street and warrants a visit.
Other amazing sites to visit while on campus are The Naval Academy Chapel (home of the crypt of John Paul Jones), Bancroft Hall (the largest college dormitory in the world), and the Herndon Monument. The Herndon Monument is where every year it is covered with lard and plebes attempt to climb the monument, remove the plebe headwear, and put a standard midshipman hat on top. This symbolizes the successful completion of their first year. Legend also has it that the midshipman who places the sailor’s cap upon the monument will be the first member of the class to reach the rank of Admiral.
Besides the amazing campus, one should visit the historic downtown of Annapolis. The city known as the ‘Sailing Capital of the World’ has a bright and beautiful downtown harbor area filled with great shops and restaurants. The state capitol complex is also in this area.
If you are looking for fine dining, Cafe Normandie (185 Main St.) has great French/seafood options, while Harry Browne’s American (66 State Circle) is a place to be seen. Treaty of Paris Restaurant at the Maryland Inn (16 Church Circle) is another expensive option.
If you want something a bit less pricey, try the iconic Chick and Ruth’s Delly (165 Main St.). Just don’t be surprised when your fellow diners just happen to be the governor or other state leaders.
If you’re looking for food away from center-city Annapolis, try Red Hot & Blue (200 Old Mill Bottom Rd S) or Old Stein Inn (1143 Central Ave E, Edgewater, MD). One offers great barbecue, while the other is a must-stop for German food.
The game I attended was right after a pretty dramatic and unexpected snowstorm, so the crowd was not as big as one may expect. But the people in attendance were still boisterous and knowledgeable. Navy fans, whether local or alumni, seem to take the efforts of their team very seriously. They stand by their teams no matter what. Expect games against a fellow service academy, especially Army, to fill quickly. There are many groups and kids' birthday parties that make up the attendance at Navy games.
Alumni Hall is not easy to access. One can’t just drive up and park outside the arena. One must have a parking pass from the Department of Defense to drive on campus. So most fans park at Navy/Marine Corps Stadium and take the shuttle to the venue.
Another option is to park downtown and walk in through the visitor gates. Just leave some time for this, as it is a secured facility so metal detectors and security measures are in place.
Whether a visitor rides the shuttle bus to the USNA or walks through one of its gates, everyone over the age of 16 must present a government-issued photo identification card (such as a driver’s license) to gain access to the Naval Academy.
Annapolis is just off routes 50 and 301 and near Interstate I-97. It is 45 minutes from Baltimore (via Richie Highway or I-97) or DC (via Route 50), so getting to the area is not an issue.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets are downright cheap. $10 gets you into the arena. $5 youth tickets are also available. You won’t get much cheaper for Division I sports. Parking at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium costs $5. per vehicle. The shuttle bus itself is free.
It is great to see the #50 David Robinson banner. The former NBA player is surely the most well-known basketball player from the Navy. It is also always a treat to see the players sing their alma mater (“Navy Blue and Gold”) after each game. Players also high-five their youth fans surrounding the court after each game.
Plaques and signage are everywhere honoring various people and groups. The class crests are the most obvious, but around every corner seem to be other honored notations. There are also various miniatures of military vessels on display in cases around the facility. Try and spend some time looking at the various displays and gather a sense of history and pride for the Naval Academy.
Alumni Hall also serves as the Bob Hope Performing Arts Center. It is fun to see the venerable entertainer’s name listed on the wall. He entertained many a troop over the years, and this entertainment venue continues in his footsteps.
Alumni Hall is a well-designed basketball facility that fits well with its team and fans. Although nearly a quarter of a century old, it holds up well compared to newer sports venues. The unique location and the truly amateur athletes who play their visit here are very special.