Carnesecca Arena - St. John's Red Storm
Photos by Brian O'Sullivan & Sean MacDonald, Stadium Journey
Carnesecca Arena FANFARE Score: 4.00
Carnesecca Arena 8000 Utopia Pkwy Jamaica, NY 11439
Year Opened: 1961 Capacity: 6,008
The Perfect (Red) Storm
New York City is home to some of the most famous teams in all of sports, including the Knicks, the Yankees, and the Rangers. When it comes to college basketball, however, there is a team that holds the crown as one of the Big Apple’s biggest teams: the St. John’s Red Storm.
The St. John’s Red Storm men’s basketball team splits their home games between Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and Carnesecca Arena, located on the campus of St. John’s University in Queens. While the bright lights of MSG are most definitely appealing, there is something truly special about being able to play in front of your own crowd on your own campus.
The Red Storm have seen moderate success in recent years under the direction of Chris Mullin, the native New Yorker and former NBA star and current Hall of Famer. Although they have yet to have more wins than losses in a season under Mullin, the Red Storm are trending in the right direction, with big wins against Duke and Villanova during the 2017-18 season. Although mostly home to a majority of the smaller opponents for the Red Storm, Carnesecca Arena offers a tremendous atmosphere for any college basketball fan, with a passionate fan base and a great amount of talent on the court.
Food & Beverage 4
While there is not much variety in the food available at Carnesecca Arena, the prices are tremendously reasonable for New York City. Concession stands are located behind both sides of the arena, with a nearly mirror image on both sides of the concourse. Traditional options include nachos ($4.50), soft pretzels ($4), and popcorn ($4). If you are looking for something a little bit more substantial, definitely check out the “Stormburger” ($5). Coca-Cola products are served throughout Carnesecca Arena ($4), with water and Powerade ($4) also available at most concession stands.
One of the most popular options among fans is the number of combo deals that are available, all of which are named after something basketball related. For example, the “3 Point Play” gives fans a Nathan’s hot dog, a bag of chips, and a drink for only $9. The lack of variety at Carnesecca Arena is most definitely made up for by the reasonable prices.
Before attending a game at Carnesecca Arena, you may not know just how much noise just under 6,000 fans can make. With its intimate setting, every seat in the house is right on top of the action and makes you feel like you are right on the court with the players. There are three jumbotrons located throughout the arena, with the two main boards located at each end of the court. It is important to note that if you decide to sit at the top of the seating bowl, it may be difficult to see the jumbotrons, but you will have absolutely no problem seeing the action on the court.
The seating sections for fans are limited to the two sides of the court, with the sections seemingly stretching all the way to the ceiling of Carnesecca Arena. There are also two student sections in the arena, with one behind each basket. While this setup may be somewhat unusual, it creates a rocking atmosphere that definitely energizes the Red Storm.
The area around St. John’s University is not the best for providing grub or entertainment before or after a game at Carnesecca Arena. There are, however, some options for food and drink near campus. A favorite among fans located just a few blocks away from campus is Acquista Trattoria, which serves up delicious Italian favorites at moderate prices. If you are looking for a place to grab a drink, check out PreGame Sports Bar & Lounge, although it is a little bit farther from campus.
If you are willing to venture into Manhattan, the options for food become nearly endless. One hidden gem among New Yorkers for a great bite to eat is Friedman’s, which has locations all throughout the city. Additionally, there are a plethora of other activities located throughout Manhattan and the rest of New York.
Since only about half of the Red Storm home games are played at Carnesecca Arena, the fans come out in loyal support of their team when they are in town, especially for big games. The fans have a tremendous knowledge of the game and have an amazing level of attentiveness as well. Given the smaller setup of the arena, the noise of the crowd travels quickly and makes the home court advantage as strong as any team could ask for from their fans.
The St. John’s students that attend the games Carnesecca Arena also get into the action on the court, performing a variety of known cheers as well as giving a confidence boost to their team throughout their effort on the court.
Even though Carnesecca Arena is located within one of the boroughs of New York City, it is not the most accessible arena in the city. Located in the borough of Queens, there are a number of ways to get to the St. John’s campus. If not coming directly from Manhattan, driving is not a bad option, as there is a substantial amount of free parking on campus located directly near the stadium. If coming from Manhattan, however, the two easiest options are either taking the F train on MTA to 169th Street, which is under a mile from campus, or by taking one of the many trains on the Long Island Railroad to the Jamaica stop, which is about two miles from campus.
Once on campus, navigating is easy. The arena is centrally located and is located right next to a free parking lot, which is nearly impossible to find in New York City.
The inside of Carnesecca Arena provides a great atmosphere, but it is not the most accessible one. The concourse is relatively cramped and can really start to get busy if the concession stands are crowded.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets to a Red Storm basketball game vary in price, but are within a reasonable window. For non-premium games, tickets range from $25-$40, with these prices increasing by $5 for premium games. Getting any seat in the house for under $50 in one of the best college basketball conferences in the country is truly magical. With the reasonable prices for food as well, a trip to Carnesecca Arena can be an economically feasible night out.
An extra point is awarded for free parking right next to Carnesecca Arena.
The support from the local community for the Red Storm is also something really great to see. It is obvious that fans are willing to come out and support their team even when they are struggling. Additionally, even if the Red Storm find themselves in a big hole, the fans stand by them and stay throughout the game.
Finally, the two student sections, located behind each basket, deserve a point for their constant level of noise during the game.
While it might not be in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, Carnesecca Arena is an overlooked gem of college basketball. With its intimate setting and passionate fan base, it is a great place to catch in some quality basketball if you ever find yourself in New York City.