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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Harrington Auditorium - WPI Engineers

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info

Harrington Auditorium 100 Institute Rd.

Worcester, MA 01609

Year Opened: 1968

Capacity: 2,800

Home of the Engineers

Founded in 1865, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, or WPI for short, was one of the nation’s first engineering and technology universities. With an enrollment of approximately 6,200 students, the school offers 50 graduate and undergraduate programs. It frequently ranks in many “Top 100” lists of universities in the United States.

WPI’s athletic teams are known as the Engineers and compete in Division Three as members of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC). The school has sponsored a varsity basketball program regularly since 1918. The Engineers have qualified for 11 NCAA Division Three Tournaments, reaching the Sweet Sixteen in 2005. An interesting footnote to WPI basketball history is that the school was the opponent for Bobby Knight’s first coaching victory in 1965.

Built in 1968, Harrington Auditorium serves as home to WPI’s men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams. It is named for Charles A. Harrington, class of 1895 and Frank C. Harrington, class of 1898. The brothers were instrumental in getting the varsity athletic program started at the school and were responsible for the construction of many of the facilities built in the early 20th century.

Harrington Auditorium has served as the home to the MIAA Central Massachusetts Boys and Girls Basketball Championships for decades. Renovations completed in 2015 installed a new floor, bleachers, scoreboard and remodeled the locker rooms. Additional renovations completed in 2019 updated the lobby and added the Athletic Hall of Fame.

Food & Beverage 0

There are no concessions available at Harrington Auditorium. Fans are welcome to bring their own snacks in to the game.

Atmosphere 2

The game day atmosphere at an Engineer game is typical of other small schools in New England. The small size of the arena lets fans hear the squeak of sneakers on the court and the coaches shouting instructions to their players. Game announcements are made over a sub-par public address system and can be difficult to understand, even in a facility as small as this. There are no cheerleaders or pep band here, and music plays only sporadically during play stoppages. Much of the noise during Engineer games comes from the fans themselves, who often have a personal connection with the players on the court.

There are scoreboards on either end of the gym, which display basic game stats and little more. The new video board on the far end of the facility is difficult to see from the seating area, as it’s blocked by basket supports.

Neighborhood 4

WPI is located in the residential Highlands neighborhood of Worcester, about a mile from downtown. It’s a walkable area filled with great local restaurants, shops and green spaces. The city of Worcester has traditionally suffered from a poor reputation but has made great strides in recent years and has many strengths. Visiting fans may be surprised to learn that Worcester is the second largest city in all of New England. Fans will find plenty to do in the immediate area of WPI.

Fans looking for places to eat near WPI should head to The Boynton, which offers large portions of American fare, or Sole Proprietor for some excellent seafood. Visitors to Worcester may head to Shrewsbury Street, home of the city’s legendary “Restaurant Row,” where over 40 of the city’s best eateries are jammed into a 1.5 mile stretch. The downtown area also has a great many choices for lodging and dining.

Fans looking for sporting options in Worcester can head downtown, where the Worcester Railers of the ECHL play at the DCU Center. Starting in 2021 the Worcester Red Sox will begin play at their new $101 million home, Polar Park. Despite being the home of many colleges, Worcester’s only Division One school is Holy Cross. Fans can head across town to catch the Crusaders play basketball and hockey at Hart Recreation Center, or football and baseball at Fitton Field.

Fans 3

WPI averages around 400 fans per game at Harrington Auditorium, with crowds ranging anywhere from 200-500 fans. The crowd consists of a good mix of locals, families and students. While the crowd is generally laid-back, it’s not unusual to hear some noise when the Engineers get on a roll.

Since the WPI schedule consists of many nearby teams, it’s not unusual to see a contingent of visiting fans at Harrington Auditorium.

Access 3

The WPI campus is located in the residential Highland neighborhood of Worcester, less than a mile from downtown. It is easily accessed from Interstate 290.

Highland Auditorium is located on the eastern edge of the WPI campus, adjacent to the school’s other athletic facilities. The entrance to the auditorium is on the main quadrangle of this attractive campus. Parking is available behind the auditorium in the Park Street Garage.

Fans will enter a large lobby, which contains the WPI Athletic Hall of Fame display, and enter the gym area on the second floor. A walkway encircles the gym, offering standing room for fans wishing to take in the action from a different perspective.

All seating at Harrington Auditorium is on one side of the facility. The seating area is separated into two levels, bisected by the walkway. Seats in the lower level consist of molded plastic bleachers, with seats in the upper level consisting of individual stadium seats. Be aware that if sitting in the upper sections your view may be obstructed by pedestrian traffic and safety railings. It is recommended to avoid the first few rows.

Restrooms are located on the far side of the gym, and are new, clean and more than adequate for a typical Engineer crowd.

Return on Investment 4

Admission to an Engineers game costs just five dollars. Children are admitted at no charge. Free roster sheets are available for all fans. With free parking available in the Park Street Garage adjacent to the facility, a basketball game at WPI is a most affordable entertainment option.

Extras 2

The WPI Athletic Hall of Fame is located in the lobby of Harrington Auditorium. Featuring a display of Engineer memorabilia, honorees and important moments in WPI sporting history can be searched through a touchscreen that is part of the display.

WPI is one of two colleges in the nation that has a goat for a mascot. Gompei the goat, named for Gompei Kuwada, member of the class of 1893 and the school’s first goatherder, is immortalized in two statues on campus. One, of a charging goat, is located behind Harrington Auditorium. The other statue, The Proud Goat, can often be seen wearing a sweater in the winter.

Final Thoughts

Harrington Auditorium is typical of many small gyms that dot the northeast. It’s far from the bright lights of big-time college hoops, and that is part of its charm. Schools like WPI offer entertaining basketball at an affordable price in an intimate setting.

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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