Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Calihan Hall 4001 W McNichols Rd Detroit, MI 48221
Year Opened: 1952
One of College Basketball’s hidden gems is Calihan Hall at the University of Detroit Mercy. In 1877, Detroit College was established and in 1941 the Sisters of Mercy opened Mercy College of Detroit. Both schools were consolidated in 1990 to become the University of Detroit Mercy. A small school with an enrollment of just over 5,000 students, UDM has been playing college basketball since 1905.
The Memorial Building was opened in 1952 to further the athletic pursuits of the renamed University of Detroit. The first basketball All-American for the Titans would be Bob Calihan, who would later go on to be the winningest coach in school history. He would see the opening of the facility as coach which would be renamed in his honor in 1977. Another former Detroit Mercy coach was the famous Dick Vitale who would lead UDM to the 1977 NCAA tournament with a 21-game winning streak. His run from 1973 to 1977 would lead him to become head coach of the Detroit Pistons and later a signature college basketball announcer. The court at Calihan Hall would be renamed after Dick Vitale in 2011. Along with Bob Calihan and Dick Vitale,
Detroit Mercy would see Detroit basketball royalty run through Calihan Hall in the form of NBA Hall of Famer Dave DeBusschere. Past successes that the Detroit Mercy Titans have enjoyed and basketball celebrities who have walked through the doors are just footnotes in the aura that is Calihan Hall. An old school facility, which just oozes history, Calihan Hall makes fans long for a bunch more friends to share the experience and really make it legendary.
Food & Beverage 3
Calihan Hall does not provide the greatest of culinary experiences. However, what is available is definitely affordable. The menu is very limited and includes hot dogs, sausage, nachos, popcorn, pizza and various other snacks. Pizza comes from local provider, Happy’s Pizza. Soda and Powerade is also available with Coca-Cola products on the menu. The top menu item goes for $4 and soda is a bargain at $2 or $3. There is not a ton of variety, but what is available can definitely be had for a good price.
The humble exterior of Calihan Hall should not be overstated. Built like a classic hockey barn, Calihan Hall’s white and red exterior definitely helps show its age but being built in the fifties is a far cry from the drab buildings that were built decades later. Entering the building from the south is the best plan and it leads to a modest concourse with plenty of treasure hunting that can be done. The Titans Athletic Hall of Fame is right in the front and well worth exploring. A significant display for NBA Hall of Famer and Detroit’s favorite son, Dave DeBusschere can be found in the front. Also, not to be missed is the display for the court dedication to former coach and ESPN broadcasting legend Dick Vitale.
Inside the seating bowl, endless possibilities are immediately evident. Calihan Hall is clearly a venue that would top the charts if full. The court runs from north to south with courtside seating on temporary, modern bleachers on all four sides of the court. The main seating area is well above the courtside seats and the pitch is very steep, lending itself to fantastic sight lines. Old-school, wooden, stadium seats in red or blue surround the court. Choosing a seat on the west side will give a perfect view of the center-court logo. The arched roof keeps all the noise in and lends to the atmosphere. NCAA banners hang above the north side including six NCAA tournament appearances, nine NIT appearances and the 2001 NIT Final Four. Red banners for the Horizon League hang at the south end including the 1994, 1999 and 2012 tournament championships and 1998 and 1999 Conference championships. The retired numbers of Rashad Phillips, Terry Duerod, Terry Tyler, Spencer Haywood, John Long, Dave DeBusschere and Bob Calihan hang proudly among the conference championships. Above center court hangs a four-sided video scoreboard which combines video and classic basketball statistics.
The game day production at a Titans game is what can be expected at a college basketball game. Students run across the court with flags to lead off the play at the beginning of each half. The cheerleaders are at one end and the dance team are at the other and both cheer on the Titans and perform during stoppages. The small, but mighty Titans pep band plays from the north end or Section 313. If the stands were full, Calihan Hall would be amazing.
The McNichols campus of University of Detroit Mercy is where Calihan Hall can be found. It is located in the Martin Park neighborhood of Detroit. The campus is very nice but surrounded by wrought iron fences and a security gate. It is a clear statement on the surrounding neighborhood. Not the nicest area for sure, there are a number of spots that fans can find something to eat. Probably not high-class establishments, but a number of spots to find a quick, cheap bite to eat. Lou’s Deli, Uptown BBQ and Soulfood, UofD Coney Island, Manhattan Fish and Chicken, Nicky D’s Coney Island and Lucki’s Cheesecakes are all within the immediate area of campus.
Detroit is full of other sporting options, which will require a trip in the car to get to. Little Caesars Arena is the home of the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL and Detroit Pistons of the NBA. Not far from LCA are Comerica Park and Ford Field, the respective homes of the Detroit Tigers of MLB and Detroit Lions of the NFL. For other college spots, nearby Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Rochester host Eastern Michigan University, University of Michigan and Oakland University. Other entertainment options would include the Greektown and Motor City Casinos.
For fans that are looking for some accommodations, there are not many options. Fans should consider heading downtown and the Inn at 97 Winder and the Hilton Garden Downtown are decent choices.
Unfortunately, poor results on the court lately have curtailed Detroit sports fans from making it to Calihan Hall. The Titans have averaged between 1,200 and 1,500 fans per game from the 2018 to 2020 seasons. This has ranked near the bottom of the Horizon League in attendance with the Titans topping out at 7th place in the 10-team conference. The game that was reviewed admittedly was at the beginning of the Winter Break and the majority of students were away. However, the fans that were in attendance would definitely be considered die-hards. They are few, but pretty loud and supportive of Detroit Mercy. The game to circle on the schedule for the best experience would be the conference and local rival Oakland Golden Grizzlies game, which easily brings in the biggest crowd of the season.
Calihan Hall is located on the McNichols Campus of the University of Detroit Mercy in the Martin Park neighborhood of Detroit. It is encircled by a few major roads including Livernois and McNichols Ave. The John C. Lodge Freeway is just south of campus and the neighborhood is northwest of downtown Detroit. Getting to the campus is not difficult and the arena is found on campus, past the security gates. Depending on where fans are coming from, some travel through the city streets may be required, but traffic is not normally an issue. There is plenty of parking available on campus, right outside of Calihan Hall. Parking will run $5.
There are two entries at the south end of Calihan Hall. Tickets are available on either side and lineups are not an issue.
Return on Investment 5
Attending a Detroit Mercy Titans game is the definition of affordability. Tickets for adults will run for $10 to $15 with discounts for seniors, kids, and staff available. UDM students can get into the game for free. Parking on campus will run $5 and the concession prices are excellent. Combine the low investment with the opportunity to watch Division I College Basketball in one of the hidden gems of a venue and fans can’t complain about the return on investment.
An extra mark for the potential for an amazing, old school experience at Calihan Hall.
An extra mark for the basketball royalty like Dick Vitale and Dave DeBusschere who have gone through Calihan Hall.
An extra mark for that Fencing National Championship banner hanging from the rafters.
Calihan Hall and the Detroit Mercy Titans are most definitely not one of the top programs in the country. However, Calihan Hall is a unique facility and one that true fans really need to take in. It would be amazing to see what a Detroit Mercy Titans game would be like with a full gym. Have Mercy!