Bob Carpenter Center - Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens
Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Bob Carpenter Center 631 S College Ave Newark, DE 19716
Year Opened: 1992 Capacity: 5,000
Basketball At the Bob
Located on the University of Delaware campus in Newark (pronounced New-ARK with the accent on the second syllable), the Bob Carpenter Center is home to the Fightin' Blue Hens basketball team. The arena opened in 1992 for $20.5 million and has been renovated and updated several times since then to ensure it stays as modern as it was when it was opened. Before 2018, the arena was also home to the Delaware 87ers (now the Blue Coats) of the NBA G-League.
Food & Beverage 4
Although Bob Carpenter doesn't have the widest variety of concessions selections, what it does have is high quality and good value. There are several concession windows in the corners of the concourse, although they are not all open every game. The menu is basic for the most part, with nachos costing $5, popcorn $5, hot dogs $2, soft pretzels $3, chocolate chip cookies $3, pizza $4 per slice for cheese or pepperoni, and candy $2.
An extra cheese cup for the pretzel or nachos (or the other items if you want it) is $1. Fountain soda and bottled water are $4. However, the best deal by far is the sandwich of the day for $8, or you can make it a combo with a hot and cold side for $12. The selection will vary by game, but when Stadium Journey visited, fans could get a pulled pork sandwich with optional sides of macaroni and cheese and cole slaw if they upgraded to a combo.
There are several smaller stands on the concourse which sell other items. One stand sells alcohol for fans of ages. Keep in mind that although this stand also sells snacks, fans under the age of 21 can not buy them here or even stand in line with fans who are of drinking age, and will need to go to a different stand. There is also a stand selling ice cream made right on campus at the UDairy Creamery. One scoop is $3.95 and two scoops are $5.25. In addition to the usual flavors like vanilla and chocolate, there are unique flavors like raspberry cheesecake and honey apple cake. Fans can get their two scoops in different flavors if they want to try several of these unique options.
Walking through the front doors of the Bob Carpenter Center will put you in the lower lobby, which is covered in murals honoring Delaware athletics. There is also a trophy case and a statue of a blue hen, the school mascot and state bird of Delaware. If you are lucky enough to have courtside seats, you can get to those from here.
Otherwise, you will need to walk up a flight of steps to the upper concourse, from which you can access concessions and walk down to your seat. A large video board hangs over the court with smaller scoreboards in two of the corners that also show the fouls and points for each player. All seats are chairbacks except the ones behind the baskets which are normally reserved for students, and all have an excellent view of the action as The Bob is a fairly small arena.
The gameday experience at the Bob Carpenter Center is pretty standard with cheerleaders and a dance team. The cheerleaders will throw t-shirts into the crowd after every Blue Hens three-pointer as well as during select TV timeouts. A band also attends some games but was not there when Stadium Journey attended.
The team has two mascots who are anthropomorphic blue hens, YouDee, and their younger sibling, Baby Blue. (Officially, both mascots are "neither male nor female" and are referred to by gender-neutral pronouns.) The mascots roam the court and the stands throughout the game to hang out with fans.
Newark is a typical East Coast college town. Your best option is to head downtown to Main Street, which offers numerous options including Grotto Pizza and the Deer Park Tavern. You can also head towards Christiana Mall or check out The Border Café, known for its Tex-Mex food and large “EAT” sign. Fans who missed their chance to get ice cream from the UDairy Creamery during the game can head there afterward to grab some
Delaware averages between 1,500 and 2,000 fans a game in a 5,000-seat arena, so the place is consistently less than half full. The Blue Hens often work with youth groups such as school basketball teams to bring children to the arena, so there are a lot of young families in attendance for a typical game. However, there are a good number of older fans as well who have shown a lifetime of loyalty to the team.
While the fans can get loud at big moments in the game, their small numbers hinder them and these passionate moments are few and far between. While the Blue Hens fans love to come decked out in blue and gold, seeing this nice arena with thousands of empty seats is not a good look.
The University of Delaware campus is located just off I-95. If coming from the north, take Exit 1, the last exit in Delaware, and the campus will be right there. If coming from the south, you are better off taking Exit 109B in Maryland. Although this will add a couple of minutes to your trip, it will save you the $4 toll that you will pay when you enter Delaware.
Once you get on campus, there are several lots near the arena where you can park. The closest parking is sold for $5, while parking further away is free. Staff should be on hand to direct you to the right area. The upper concourse is very wide and there are plenty of restrooms on both the upper and lower levels. They may get a bit crowded at halftime but you will be back in plenty of time for the second half. The stairway to the upper level is a bit long but elevators are available for fans who require one.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets range from $11 to $19 depending on where you sit, which is an excellent value for a modern arena such as The Bob. Parking is no more than $5 and free if you are willing to walk a bit. Concessions are affordable, especially if you go for the sandwich combo which is the most expensive thing on the menu but gets you a lot of food. All in all, a visit to the Bob Carpenter Center is a great value for fans to take in a basketball game.
There is a children's area behind Section 8 with games to play such as cornhole and Connect Four as well as a chance to make signs to hold up to cheer on the Blue Hens. The lower lobby is worthy of an extra star in its own right as it is practically a miniature museum dedicated to the Blue Hens. A third and final star for the banners hanging behind one of the baskets honoring Blue Hens basketball accomplishments.
The Bob Carpenter Center is a sleek, modern facility, and although it is now 30 years old, the University of Delaware has continued to do ongoing renovations to ensure it stays up-to-date. While it would be nice if more fans turned up to Blue Hens games, a trip to The Bob is well worth it for any basketball fan passing through Delaware.