Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium info FANFARE Score: 2.71
James A. Calhoun Gymnasium
1678 Asylum Ave
West Hartford, CT 06117
Year Opened: 2021
A Tiny Gym With a Big Name
Jim Calhoun is a legendary figure in college basketball. As coach of the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team, he won three national championships, in 1999, 2004 and 2011. He finished his career with 873 victories in Division One, good for 11th all-time at the time of his retirement. Considered to be one of the best coaches in the history of college basketball, Calhoun was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.
The University of St. Joseph was founded in 1932 by the Sisters of Mercy Connecticut. Originally known as Saint Joseph College, it is a private Roman Catholic university located in West Hartford, Connecticut. This small school was founded as a women-only college, becoming co-educational in 2018. The school currently boasts an enrollment of just under 2,500 students.
Jim Calhoun was hired as coach of the newly formed men’s basketball program in 2018. Calhoun coached the team for three seasons. A member of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference, the Blue Jays have qualified for three NCAA Division III tournaments in their short history, advancing to the sweet sixteen in 2023.
Food & Beverage 1
There is no concession stand at the O’Connell Center. Fans needing a snack during a Blue Jays game can bring their own into the facility or utilize the vending machine located in the lobby.
Stadium Journey visited USJ for their annual Holiday Tournament during the 2023 semester break, which might have held down attendance and excitement. Fans who frequent Division Three basketball games will find a familiar, low-key game presentation here at Calhoun Gymnasium.
Missing during Stadium Journey’s visit were the student body, cheerleaders, pep band, mascot and most of the extras that breathe life into a small college gymnasium. The gym features a modern, crystal-clear sound system over which music is played during stoppages. Scoreboards at either end of the gym provide basic game information.
With its intimate setting, it’s easy to see how Calhoun Gymnasium could provide a great home-court advantage when filled with boisterous Blue Jays fans. Otherwise, it’s a clean, comfortable place to catch some affordable, quality college basketball.
The University of St. Joseph is located in a residential neighborhood in affluent West Hartford. Niche.com recently named West Hartford the best place to live in Connecticut. Downtown Hartford is a short ten-minute drive away. For visitors looking to stay outside the city, West Hartford Center is located just a couple of miles away and contains many dining and shopping options. More options are available at the newly developed Blue Black Square. More information about things to do in West Hartford can be found here.
As mentioned earlier, Stadium Journey visited USJ during the semester break, which held down attendance despite the tournament setting. During Stadium Journey’s visit, crowds were small, estimated at about 200 fans by the eyeball test. Many of the fans present were there to support the other teams in action. This could very accurately be described as a friends and family type of crowd.
While interacting with several students who were working at the game, they spoke of the gymnasium being packed with standing room only crowds for big games in recent years. We’ll take them at their word and split the difference with our rating.
The University of St. Joseph is located in West Hartford, a town of 64,000 residents. The USJ campus is just 3.5 miles from downtown Hartford. In fact, if you follow Asylum Street to the east, you’ll find yourself at the XL Center in about ten minutes. The town center is located just a couple of miles from campus. USJ’s suburban campus in a residential neighborhood is easily reached via Interstate 84. For fans using public transportation, CT Transit serves the USJ campus. Maps, directions and local points of interest can be found here.
USJ’s 84-acre campus contains 19 buildings designed in the Georgian architectural style by the Olmstead Brothers. The Calhoun Gymnasium is located in the O’Connell Athletic Center on the northern edge of campus alongside the school’s other athletic facilities. Parking is available in lots adjacent to the O’Connell Center.
Seating consists of molded plastic bleachers on either side of the court. There is no seating on either end of the court. This intimate gym seats only 800 fans, so all seats feature excellent views of the court. Rest rooms and vending machines are located nearby in the lobby.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to basketball games at Calhoun Gymnasium cost $10. During conference games, one ticket is good for admission to both the men’s and women’s games. Parking is available at no cost in lots adjacent to the O’Connell Center.
There is a trophy case in the O’Connell Center lobby which displays the hardware won by various Blue Jays teams over the school’s history. Flags commemorating championships and tournament appearances by the men’s and women’s basketball teams and volleyball teams hang on the gymnasium walls.
Another extra point is awarded for the upgrading of the school’s facilities. The new gym, opened in 2021, doubled the size of the old facility and was dedicated to Coach Calhoun upon his retirement.
The University of Saint Joseph is a new basketball program with an already impressive resume. With a gym named for a basketball Hall of Famer and multiple post-season appearances under its belt, this cozy facility is a great place to catch some quality basketball at an affordable price in an intimate setting.