Photos by Matt Fiedler & Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Harry A. Gampel Pavilion FANFARE Score: 3.43
Harry A. Gampel Pavilion 2095 Hillside Rd Storrs, CT 06269
Year Opened: 1990 Capacity: 10,167
Hoops at Gampel
The University of Connecticut, or UCONN, men’s basketball team splits its games between the XL Center in Hartford and Gampel Pavilion, which is on campus in Storrs, Connecticut. While the XL Center has a capacity of 16,294, Gampel Pavilion’s capacity is just 10,167. This makes for a much more intimate venue and a more traditional college atmosphere.
By college basketball standards Gampel Pavilion is not that old. It was opened in 1990 and is the largest on-campus venue for college basketball in New England. The men’s and women’s basketball teams share Gampel Pavilion. The UCONN women’s volleyball team also calls Gampel home.
Gampel Pavilion has provided a great home court advantage for the men’s basketball team. Since it opened, the team has a record of 189-37 and has never had a losing record in any season at Gampel Pavilion.
Food & Beverage 4
Gampel Pavilion offers a good variety of food and beverage choices for fans. Concessions are mostly concentrated at the four entrances in the corners of the arena. Fans can find hot dogs, pizza, nachos, pretzels, and peanuts among other items. There is also Bear’s BBQ which is a staple in CT. I would highly recommend the pulled pork sandwich from Bear’s BBQ. A new addition to the Gampel lineup is chicken wings which are located in the west food court area.
There are plenty of sweet treats as well. Fans can find candy, fried dough and cotton candy located at several concession stands on the concourse. Gampel Pavilion is a Coca-Cola venue so if you’re looking for a soda, you’ll find Coke & Sprite instead of Pepsi and Sierra Mist. Gampel is also a venue that does not serve alcohol, so you’ll have to wait until post-game to enjoy an adult beverage.
Basketball is the sport that UCONN is known for. The football team has been less than stellar for some time, but the basketball teams have a long history of success. That success is memorialized throughout Gampel Pavilion. There are numerous championship banners, retired numbers, and markers of achievement in the rafters of Gampel Pavilion. The men’s and women’s teams have combined for 16 national championships. Each of those is commemorated throughout Gampel Pavilion.
The setup of Gampel Pavilion also helps with the game day atmosphere. There is not much separation between the fans and the players on the court. The arena can get very loud and the shape of Gampel Pavilion only amplifies the sound. Gampel is an arena that does not have a jumbotron over center court. Instead there are smaller video boards on both ends of the arena that provide the requisite information. There is loud music and an on-court personality that pumps up the crowd with giveaways and contests during timeouts.
There are two types of college towns. There are towns that happen to have a college in them and then there are towns that are the college. UCONN falls into the latter category. The town of Storrs, CT is UCONN. In the immediate area of Gampel Pavilion there are a few restaurants and local hot spots. There is also the UCONN Dairy Bar where fans can sample fresh ice cream.
If fans are looking for other night life options, they can check out Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods Casino. Mohegan Sun & Foxwoods are 45 and 55 minutes away from Gampel Pavilion. There are also nightlife options in Hartford which is just a 30 minute drive from the UCONN campus.
The UCONN basketball fans know their stuff. They are used to winning and accept nothing less from their teams. The fans get loud at the right times, especially at Gampel Pavilion. The atmosphere and fan engagement will be kicked up a notch next year (2020-2021) when UCONN moves back to the Big East conference. The fans pack Gampel on a routine basis and tickets will be even harder to come by when they start facing local opponents like Providence, St. John’s and Villanova every year. The fans are very respectful of opposing fans from what I could tell.
The University of Connecticut is a bit off the beaten path. The arena is in the small town of Storrs, Connecticut. If you are coming from the east or west, you can take route 44 and connect with route 195. The main highway is not very close to the campus. There is also no real way to get to the campus by bus or by train, so the best option is to drive.
There is plenty of parking in the area if you choose to drive to the campus. There are multiple garages as well as some free lots if you want to walk a long distance. The garage I parked at cost $12 for the full game.
Once you’re inside the arena you’ll have to plan a little. The concourse is narrow and gets congested easily. If you want to get food, you should do so before the halftime intermission. The seats at Gampel Pavilion all offer good lines of sight and there is not a bad seat in the house.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to a UCONN Huskies game at Gampel Pavilion can be a real bargain. There isn’t a bad seat in the arena. One upcoming game has tickets as low as $6 at ticketmonster.com. When you add in concessions and parking you can attend a UCONN game for under $30. The concession prices are about average with other college venues. Parking costs $12 on game day which is also about average. Overall, attending a UCONN game is a pretty wallet-friendly investment.
One star goes to the history that Gampel Pavilion showcases. The championship banners, retired numbers, and hall of famers show how rich the history is with men’s and women’s basketball at UCONN.
A second star goes to the local food options at UCONN. The UCONN Dairy Bar and Bear’s BBQ are both local establishments that are well represented and popular with the fans.
UCONN basketball has a rich heritage of success. That is well represented at Gampel Pavilion. Both the men’s and women’s teams have had a lot of winning in that arena. It is the largest on-campus venue for college basketball in New England and deserves to be included in the discussion of best college basketball venues in the country. When the team is good, the arena gets incredibly loud and has some of the best fans around. A game at UCONN is inexpensive and well worth the investment. I’d highly recommend a trip to Gampel Pavilion at least once.