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  • Writer's pictureDave Cottenie

Bob Davis Gymnasium - Brock Badgers

Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Bob Davis Gymnasium Walker Complex Brock University University Rd W St. Catharines, ON L2T 4C6

Year Opened: 1973

Capacity: 2,400

Brock is the Rock

In 1964 Brock University opened its doors in St. Catharines, Ontario. Since then the university has blossomed into an institution of over 18,700 students and has a solid reputation as an academic institute. The school was named after Major General Sir Isaac Brock, a British General who led the defence of Upper Canada against the Americans in the War of 1812. Although victorious, Brock would die in the Battle of Queenston Heights, which was not far from the current location of the university.

Some of the distinguished alumni from Brock in the world of sports include former NHL player Dennis Hull, North Bay Battalion head coach Stan Butler and current Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager and wunderkid Kyle Dubas. Athletics would take the field at Brock in the late sixties and the Brock Badgers basketball team would first take the court in 1967. In 1971, Brock would join the OUAA, the precursor for the OUA, their current conference. The Badgers would toil near the bottom of the standings for the bulk of their early existence, but the hiring of head coach Ken Murray would change the fortunes of the Badgers in 1986. The Badgers would become a consistently competitive team for the remainder of their existence up to the present and claim the Wilson Cup as conference champions in 1992 and 1995. Brock would shock the Canadian basketball world on two separate occasions claiming the National Championship in 1992 and 2008.

Home for the Badgers is the Bob Davis Gymnasium. The gym is named after the Badgers’ number one fan and former Athletic Director for three decades, and first president of the OUA. The home of the Badgers is known as one of the more intimidating venues in the OUA for opposing teams. Brock has also earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the best travelling fan bases in the conference, often sending bus loads of fans into enemy territory. When in the Niagara area, checking out the Brock Badgers and Bob Davis Gymnasium is worth a look and a rock solid OUA basketball experience.

Food & Beverage 2

The concessions options at the Bob Davis Gymnasium are pretty limited. Just outside the main entrance, popcorn and cans of soda are available. The prices are pretty cheap but the selection is obviously limited. For fans who are interested in something a little more substantial, walking through the Walker Sports Complex will bring fans to the Hungry Badger, which has many more options including Pizza Pizza.

Atmosphere 3

The home for Brock Badgers basketball is the Bob Davis Gymnasium, located inside the Walker Sports Complex. The Walker Complex is a nice looking facility from the outside. First time fans will be surprised when they find out that the gymnasiums (which can be seen from University Avenue) and the huge glass windows are not where the varsity basketball teams play. Fans will need to enter the Walker Complex and meander through to the Bob Davis Gymnasium. The Badgers do a great job of advertising their famous sports alumni and currently have a few banners showing current Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas. Other Brock memorabilia can be seen on the trip through the complex.

When the Walker Sports Complex was originally built in 1973, it is clear that Gym One, which is now known as the Bob Davis Gymnasium, was built to mostly facilitate classes and recreation. Outside, there are some Brock Badger markings to build the atmosphere, but inside the gymnasium is very simple. The basketball court runs east to west with bleacher seating on both the north and south sides. A simple rectangular design, the Bob Davis Gymnasium is a throwback to high school facilities that so many fans are familiar with. The best descriptor of the gym is cozy.

On the east and north walls hang a plethora of championship banners. Most of them are for wrestling and rowing, however the 1991-1992 CIAU Basketball National Championship and 2008 CIS Basketball National Championship banners hang proudly. Although the Badgers have retired four numbers for honoured members of the Badgers basketball teams, nowhere in the Bob Davis Gymnasium is that evident. A simple scoreboard with tracking for players hangs on the west wall. The most iconic image in the Bob Davis Gymnasium, however, is the massive, red Badgers logo on the south wall.

The game day production for a Badgers game is simple. They don’t try too hard and successfully embellish the atmosphere. Music selection is what would be expected and Brock does not bother attempting fancy lights or anything like that. The Badger cheerleaders cheer from behind the baseline and perform a stunt or two during stoppages in play. Overall, the Badgers put together a game day package that is perfect for their venue.

Neighbourhood 3

The Bob Davis Gymnasium is located in the Walker Complex on the campus of Brock University. The campus is in the Glenridge neighbourhood of St.Catharines on the southern border of the city, just west of Thorold. Many may not think of St.Catharines as a great tourist destination, but with close proximity to the tourist Mecca of Niagara Falls makes it worth the trip.

There are a few spots for fans to get pre and post game food and drink near the Bob. Isaac’s Bar and Grill is the on-campus pub and may be worth a look. Cracker Jack’s, Cat’s Caboose and Johnny Rocco’s are other spots of interest.

The Badgers hockey team plays at the Seymour-Hannah Sports Complex, which is off campus and may be able to provide a doubleheader opportunity with basketball. Also, the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League play in the relatively new Meridian Centre for other sporting options. Other entertainment options in the area include the Welland Canals Centre / St.Catharines Museum / Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Also, the Niagara winery scene is world famous and there are tons of vineyards in the area that are worth touring. Rockway Vineyards is close to campus.

For fans that need a place to stay, the Stone Mill Inn and Four Points St.Catharines Niagara are good choices.

Fans 4

Assessing fans for OUA basketball is difficult. In most cases, attendance at basketball games is not reported. That being said, Brock does a pretty good job bringing fans out to the game. There are plenty of students in the gym for Badgers games, which can be a real challenge for many OUA teams. The cozy nature of the Bob lends itself to the size of crowd that shows up. Brock also has a reputation for being one of the best travelling fan bases in the province. Bus loads of fans have been known to hit up a rival location or two.

Access 4

Getting to Brock is not very difficult. The campus is located south of the Queen Elizabeth Way and west of highway 406 so getting to campus is very simple from out of town. The Bob Davis Gymnasium is located inside the Walker Sports Complex. The Walker Complex is located on the edge of campus on University Road West. There is plenty of parking on campus, however there is a charge depending on the lot. For fans who are interested in public transit, there are buses that go right on the Brock campus. Fans should check out the St.Catharines Transit website for fares, schedules and maps.

With the vastness of the Walker Complex gives plenty of space to get around. The Bob Davis Gym itself is a little on the tight side and there is not a ton of room to move around. However, the moulded plastic bleachers are fine and decent once you are settled. The washroom facilities are adequate for the size of the crowd at Brock games.

Return on Investment 4

OUA basketball continues to be a fabulous value for the sporting dollar. Tickets for Badgers basketball are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Brock University students are free of charge. Each ticket is a doubleheader with the women’s basketball team playing before the men. Parking on campus will have a charge and concession prices are not very expensive. For that small investment, fans get excellent basketball action, close to the game amongst some of the best fans in all university sports. Put it all together and the return more than makes up for the small investment.

Extras 2

An extra mark for possibly the best travelling fans in the OUA.

An extra mark for the success Brock has earned on the court, an accomplishment for a small school for sure.

Final Thoughts

Going to a Brock Badgers basketball game at the Bob Davis Gymnasium will not blow fans away with anything too fancy. The gym is simple and cozy and the production befits the venue. Brock provides great value for the dollar and have one of the best fan bases in the conference.

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

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