Hammel Court – Merrimack Warriors
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Hammel Court 315 Turnpike Ave North Andover, MA 01845
Year Opened: 1972
Hammel Court is home to the newest Division One basketball team in the nation, the Merrimack Warriors. The basketball arena is located in the Volpe Athletic Center, which also contains Lawler Rink. It is named for former head coach Bert Hammel, who piloted the squad from 1980-2016.
Basketball has been played at Merrimack since 1949. A longtime member of Division Two, the team competed in the Northeast-10 Conference from 2001-2019, when the school decided to promote all teams to Division One. As a member of the Northeast Conference, the Warriors are ineligible for postseason play until 2024. While in Division Two, the Warriors qualified for 11 NCAA Tournaments and won the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament three times.
Food & Beverage 3
There is a small concession stand in the lobby which offers a limited menu. Burgers, hot dogs, and nachos are sold here. Assorted snacks are also available. On the plus side, no item costs more than six dollars.
Pepsi products are sold at Hammel Court. In addition, a limited selection of beer and wine is available.
One of the advantages of playing in a small gym like Hammel Court is that the place fills with noise pretty easily. With the gym packed with standing-room-only crowds throughout the season, it can get pretty loud here.
The game day experience here is a basic one, as Hammel Court lacks the capabilities for a fancy show.
Scoreboards on either end of the gym display basic game stats. All the elements of a typical game day presentation can be found, from the pep band, dance squad, and cheerleading team to a packed student section. T-shirt tosses and contests during play stoppages keep the younger fans in attendance involved.
Merrimack College is located in North Andover, Massachusetts, a town of over 31,000 located 24 miles north of Boston. North Andover is your typical bedroom community, with plenty of shops and restaurants for locals, but nothing that would classify the town as a “must-see” destination.
Fans looking to avoid the big city price tags of Boston will find many dining and lodging options within a few miles of the Merrimack campus along nearby Route 114 or Interstate 495. Among the local dining options, Bertucci’s Pizza and Fuddrucker’s burgers draw big crowds on game nights. If looking for more of a sit-down experience, Burton’s Grill and Bar is a popular place for a pre-or post-game meal.
Attendance has been impressive during the Warriors first season in Division One, with several standing-room-only crowds filling Hammel Court towards the tail end of the season. Even before the crowds picked up, the team was drawing between 600-1,000 fans per night to Hammel Court. It will be interesting to see if the Warriors can sustain these nice crowds, or if attendance will dwindle once the newness factor wears off.
The fans at Hammel Court are enthusiastic about the Warriors and fill the small gym with noise throughout the game. The student section is filled to the brim right behind the benches, making their presence known to the visiting team and referees. Their antics may be a bit salty but visiting fans need not worry about bringing the whole family to Merrimack.
The Merrimack campus in North Andover is located 25 miles from downtown Boston just off Interstate 495, where routes 125 and 114 come together. Traffic in this area can be heavy, particularly if going to a weekday game, but driving is still the easiest way to access the college. Fans using public transportation from Boston can take the MBTA train that stops at the Andover station. Once in Andover, the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority offers bus service to many local spots, including Merrimack College. Complete directions to the Merrimack campus, including local dining and lodging options, can be found here.
Hammel Court is located on the southern edge of campus in the Volpe Athletic Center, adjacent to Lawler Rink. Duane Stadium and the other Merrimack athletic facilities are also located in this area. There are parking lots a short walk from the facility adjacent to the Rogers Center for the Arts and on the far side of the football stadium.
The entrance to Hammel Court is located on the back side of the Volpe Athletic Center. Fans will enter a large lobby that contains the ticket tables, restrooms, concessions, and the Merrimack Athletic Hall of Fame. Hammel Court will be located on your right, with the rear entrance to Lawler Rink located on the left.
Hammel Court is a tiny facility containing retractable bleachers on either side of the court. All seating consists of molded bleaches without backs. When attending on a chilly winter night, it can get tight when a big crowd is present. There is little extra room for coats and fans are packed together tightly in the bleachers. On the plus side, in a small gym such as this, there is no such thing as a bad seat.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets to Warrior basketball games are sold as general admission seating for $7. Members of the military, seniors, youth, and Merrimack staff receive a two-dollar discount. With free parking and affordable concessions, a night of Merrimack hoops is the most affordable entertainment option for local sports fans.
The Merrimack Athletics Hall of Fame is located in the lobby of the Volpe Athletic Center. Alongside photos of the honorees are plaques listing all All-Americans that have played at Merrimack as well as a trophy case packed with the hardware won by Warrior squads over the years. Banners honoring championship basketball and volleyball teams hang on the Hammel Court walls.
There were many doubters in the Greater Boston area who thought that tiny Merrimack College was making a mistake when it made the move to promote all its teams to Division One. For the men’s basketball team, the move has been a success both on and off the court. The team has set a record for most wins by a school in their first year in Division One and fans have packed cozy Hammel Court all year.