Dillon Gymnasium - Princeton Tigers
Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Princeton, NJ 08540
Year Opened: 1947
Still at the Dill
Located on the campus of Princeton University, Dillon Gymnasium is home to the Tigers' volleyball program. The building also houses a student recreational facility and the offices of the athletic department, among others things.
Dillon Gymnasium was built in 1947 and originally housed the Tigers' basketball team. In 1969, basketball moved into the much larger Jadwin Gymnasium, but volleyball still calls historic Dillon Gymnasium home.
Food & Beverage 0
There is no concession stand at Dillon Gymnasium. Signs by the entrance warn fans not to bring food or drink onto the gym floor, but fans seemed to be bringing beverages in with no problem. As there is no security to speak of other than a couple of students working the front desk, you can probably get away with it as long as you aren't too obvious and don't make a mess.
Walking into Dillon Gymnasium will put you in a lobby. A trophy case will be on your left and a set of double doors straight ahead will take you to the gymnasium proper. Although Dillon Gym sits 1,500 according to the official capacity, the actual capacity is closer to 300. All seats are in wooden bleachers similar to what you would see in a high school gym. A low hanging ceiling traps sound in, making the roar of the crowd rise to thunderous levels at times.
A small scoreboard on one sideline shows the score of the current set and the sets won by each team. However, as the scoreboard was clearly designed for basketball, the total sets are listed in an area labeled for team fouls.
Princeton has that feel of a small college town. but there is certainly plenty going on here. The Dinky Bar & Kitchen, named for the NJ Transit line that connects the Princeton campus with Princeton Junction, is located in a former train station near campus. There are many more options in downtown Princeton, ranging from hoagies to seafood to pizza and more. Parking may be a challenge downtown, but there is much to do there even if you have to walk a bit from your car.
Although Dillon Gymnasium is very small, fans pack the bleachers to capacity or near capacity every game. They are loud and boisterous, and the roof serves to further trap their sound and make this gym extremely loud during volleyball matches. It may well be the loudest mid-major volleyball gym in the country. It certainly can't compete with the crowds at the elite programs, but between the low ceilings, small gym, and capacity crowds, it is extremely loud here. Expect a full match worth of cheering, sign-waving, and urging the Tigers on to victory.
Getting to the Princeton campus is easy. Free parking is available in the Theatre Drive Garage (formerly known as the West Garage, as it still appears in some GPS systems) For those arriving by public transit, the Princeton station on NJ Transit's Princeton Branch is located a short walk from the arena and if driving, you will likely pass it as you get on campus. The Princeton Branch, better known as The Dinky, is the shortest commuter rail line in America and connects Princeton's campus to Princeton Junction on the Northeast Corridor. It consists of just those two stops, and the trip takes about five minutes.
However, getting from the garage to the gymnasium is far more difficult. There is no signage to direct you, and the building housing Dillon Gymnasium has several entrances, only one of which is the right one. You have to walk down the street away from the garage, then up an unmarked staircase and around the corner to the entrance. There is no signage telling you to do so. The students working the desk are helpful enough in directing you once you get inside, but that's the easy part. Getting inside to begin with is the hard part.
Restrooms are available off the lobby and easily signed, at least once you get in the building.
Return on Investment 5
Admission to all Princeton volleyball games, with the possible exception of Ivy League or NCAA postseason action, is free of charge. Parking is free as well. When combined with the raucous crowds and electric atmosphere, a Princeton volleyball game can be a great value.
One star for the trophy case in the lobby dedicated to Princeton athletic history.
A second star for the loud and energetic crowds, one of the best in mid-major volleyball.
A third and final star for the history of Dillon Gymnasium. This is the gym where Bill Bradley dropped 51 points in 1964, and although basketball no longer plays here, it is good to see the gym being used for something.
Although Dillon Gymnasium has a pretty simple layout, the experience here is anything but. Princeton crowds turn up every game to cheer on their team and create an excellent atmosphere to take in a volleyball game. Just make sure to arrive early or you may have trouble finding seats together.