Jadwin Gymnasium – Princeton Tigers
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Jadwin Gymnasium 800 Faculty Rd. Princeton, NJ 08542
Year Opened: 1969
Jadwin is an Ivy League Gem
The L. Stockwell Jadwin Gymnasium is a multipurpose athletic facility that has a combined floor space of approximately 250,000 square feet with seating for 6,854 spectators for various indoor athletics that include men’s and women’s basketball, track and field, fencing, wrestling, and squash. The venue is also large enough to house an indoor baseball diamond that is utilized during the truculent New Jersey spring weather.
Opened in 1969, it is the second largest on-campus basketball arena in the state of New Jersey featuring an aesthetically pleasing roof consisting of three interlocking shells designed by prize-winning American architect and Princeton alumnus Walker O. Cain, who also designed the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of History and Technology in Washington, D.C.
The eye-popping design of the structure is adjacent to both the home for football, Princeton Stadium, and baseball diamond, Clarke Field. It is a memorial to Leander Stockwell Jadwin who captained the track team during his senior year and passed away in an automobile accident eight months after graduation. Four decades later after his mother died, she left the university an unrestricted bequest of $27 million, the trustees decided to use part of the funds to complete the $6.5 million athletic building under Jadwin’s name.
Food & Beverage 3
There is one main concession booth underneath the roof in the main lobby. The concession stand offers the basics in food choices including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, popcorn, nachos, and chicken sandwiches. If you have sweet tooth there are assorted candies, cotton candy, and Italian ice varieties. Coca-Cola products are served by the fountain in three sizes. The selection is similar to many other college hoop venues in the area.
The design of the gymnasium definitely strikes the fancy and captures the imagination of many who enter the main playing court. The roof is made up of three interlocking shells that create an arch around the building, but also adds a lot of vast space beyond the basic set of movable bleacher stands. The bleachers look as if they would fit adequately in your standard middle school gymnasium and are situated around three sections of the court; permanent orange theater style seating is slightly above the fourth section in the upper concourse. This section sustains a Broadway-like quality of viewing for the fan and, on a smaller scale, similar to the seating structure to Assembly Hall on the campus of Indiana University.
What the arena offers is a very up close and personal relationship between fans and athletes. Fans can easily stroll up near the end courts where camera crews set up shop or directly behind both home and away benches. It is an experience that is somewhat unusual in Division I college hoops that also includes players heading to the locker room at a handshake distance.
Up above the playing court is a basic scoreboard that is enveloped by glorious orange colored banners that showcase the program’s rich history, including a Final Four Appearance (1965), an NIT Championship (1975), 24 tournament appearances, and 26 Ivy League Championships. There are also two banners for two prominent members of the program – Bill Bradley’s retired number and one for Pete Carril who coached the Tigers for 31 seasons and whose name also dons the playing court.
Jadwin has two primary levels beneath the roof formed by the three interlocking shells. The first shell covers the entrance lobby featuring the concession stand, ticket booth, restrooms, and a rather impressive collection of memorabilia including Dick Kazmaier Heisman Trophy. A makeshift souvenir stand is also located in the lobby next to the bronze tiger that was donated by the Class of 1943. The outside exterior resembles a concert hall with a tall, narrow glass entrance welcoming fans indoors.
Perhaps the best part of attending any Princeton collegiate game is the campus and neighborhood. The population of the area exceeds 30,000 and offers a mix of suburban sprawl and voluminous open space; this area of the state seems miles away from New York City and Philadelphia. The fourth oldest university in the country offers historic buildings, open gardens, beautiful walkways, and spacious grounds throughout the 500-acre campus. It is easily accessible by bike, car, or walking.
The downtown section of Princeton is worth an endeavor before or after the game; shops, bars, and restaurants along Palmer Square provide visitors numerous opportunities to enjoy the ambiance of the city. The Alchemist & Barrister offers 28 beers on tap and is located in a historic building that dates back to the 19th century. There are open air and sidewalk seating where one can enjoy a drink or something to eat. If you are looking for just a quick bite, Hoagie Heaven is noted as one of the state’s best places for a sub sandwich. The Sanchez, a chicken cutlet with cheese, mozzarella sticks, fries, and Sanchez sauce is a local favorite. The Infini-T Cafe is a small, quaint little restaurant offering vegan options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
There are plenty of lodging options in town and the surrounding area. The Westin, Courtyard, Residence Inn, Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn are just a few of the hotels a visitor will find when staying in the vicinity.
The men’s basketball program ranks above the league average of attendance drawing close to 2,000 spectators per game. The fans are focused throughout the contest and don the colors of orange and black. These are not uproarious fans, but rather refined and confident that their Tigers will take care of business on the court. The Jadwin Jungle is the official student section located near the scorer’s table.
It is not difficult to get around Jadwin Gymnasium. The facility is sectioned off into upper and lower balcony sections that are labeled and well spaced out for patrons. Bathrooms are clearly labeled and the concession stand and fan shop are adjacent to one another in the main lobby. The only problem with access is traveling to the game from the two main routes of US-1 and Route 27 into Princeton. The traffic could be heavy depending on the time of day and signs to the gymnasium are not clearly marked. However, a basic GPS will correct that in an instant. There is plenty of parking, but at times could fill up depending on the matchup.
It should be also noted that the campus is an equal distance in miles between Philadelphia and New York City, but much more direct and faster from Philadelphia including no tolls for roads or bridges. If you happen to be visiting these two cities, you may ponder a fantastic day drive to Princeton.
Return on Investment 3
All adult tickets for the game are $12, and kids tickets are $8, making an extremely affordable night of college sports in the prominent town of Princeton. However, one should bring cash, since they do not accept credit cards at the ticket booth. Also, having to sit in what amounts to be roll-out middle school wooden bleachers feels a little uncomfortable when you are squeezed in during heavily attended games. Fortunately, the upper balcony seats are comfortable and posh to enjoy the game. Parking is free for all games.
The history of Princeton athletics is vibrant in and out of the gymnasium. Two lifelike bronze statues of its two most prominent athletes Bill Bradley and Dick Kazmaier greet fans near the entrance of the building. There is also Kazmaier’s Heisman trophy encased in the lobby along with a bronze Tiger statue, retired numbers, trophy cases, and other memorabilia on display.
The facility design is somewhat spectacular and perhaps unexpected on the campus of Princeton University. It definitely makes for great acoustics and clear sightlines from the seats. It is also vibrant with an abundance of lighting arching up and down the curvy shelled roof.
Jadwin Gymnasium is a hidden treasure to discover among the basketball venues on the campuses of New Jersey. The second largest on-campus facility has an affection that should be applauded and relished by both students, fans, and alumni living in the area. I don’t have to witness a collegiate game in Princeton to enjoy the town and campus, but attending a game at the Jadwin Gymnasium complements any visit to the town of Princeton.