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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Oakes

Kaplan Arena - William & Mary Tribe


Photos by Joseph Oakes, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Kaplan Arena 751 Ukrop Way Williamsburg, VA 23185


Year Opened: 1971

Capacity: 8,600

 

Hoops In The Colonial Capital

William & Mary Hall first opened in 1971 as the UNC Tar Heels knocked off William & Mary 101-72 in front of a sold-out crowd of over 8,000. Despite the game being played, the building was not completely finished as the locker rooms were unfinished and UNC spent halftime on the team bus. In 2016, the building was officially named Kaplan Arena. The facility is home to William & Mary basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics. The 2023-24 basketball season has brought new facility upgrades including a brand-new videoboard, a new sound system, and new LED lights. William & Mary competes in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA).

 

Food & Beverage 3

 Kaplan Arena offers a good variety of food choices to keep you satisfied at the game including hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, nachos, and pulled pork BBQ sandwiches. Snack options include bottomless popcorn, candy (M&M’s, candy bars), and chips. Beverage options include bottled water, Gatorade, and fountain drinks. Alcoholic beverages are available at the Precarious Pavilion at the open end of the arena.


While the food options are modestly priced, including the bottomless popcorn (!), we recommend eating a meal at one of Williamsburg's fine establishments before or after the game.

 

Atmosphere 3

 Kaplan Arena is split into an upper and lower level with a walkway separating the two. When you enter the seating area from the portal you are on this walkway with the lower level being below you and the upper level above. All of the seats in the lower level are green, while the upper-level seats are yellow. Most of the seats are chairback, with the exception of the top few rows in the upper level. However, with the size of crowds that William & Mary draws for most games, one would not have the need to sit there.


There is a large four-sided videoboard that hangs above center court that is new for the 2023 season and provides the score, stats, and video replays. When we visited, there was no band or cheerleaders. This creates a rather bland atmosphere and seems to show that the basketball program is not a priority. There is not a bad seat in the house, and for most games, you should be able to get a ticket in just about any section that you want. The mascot, Griffin, roams the crowd during the game and takes pictures with fans.

 

Neighborhood 5

If you are looking for other things to do while in town for a William and Mary basketball game, there are many options in the Williamsburg area. Colonial Williamsburg has many colonial-style homes, shops, restaurants, and attractions in the downtown area. One interesting restaurant with great food is Food for Thought, which has a menu as diverse as the minds of great American thinkers. Food for Thought’s décor features biographical pictures of inventors, scientists, and social leaders while the walls display thought-provoking quotes used to set the tone for a positive and enjoyable dining experience.


Just down the street from William & Mary is Meadows Original Frozen Custard, which offers some of the best custard and concretes you can find anywhere.


Also, nearby is the Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement on the east coast; and Yorktown, the site where the British surrendered and the Revolutionary War ended.


There are also many other resorts and attractions nearby including theme parks Busch Gardens and Water Country.

 

Fans 2

 William and Mary averages around 2500-3000 fans for most home games. Most of these fans sit in the lower level of the 8,000-seat arena giving the upper level a desolate feeling. Most fans seem to be older alumni. When we attended, there were few students in attendance, no cheerleaders or pep band. William & Mary basketball seems to be an afterthought in the Williamsburg area.

 

Access 4

 Kaplan Arena is located on the William & Mary campus just blocks from Colonial Williamsburg, right off of Richmond Road, at the intersection of Brooks Street and Compton Drive. Access is easy from Richmond Road with free parking outside the arena. Ticket scanners and security are set right inside the exterior doors of the arena. Keep in mind that there is a clear bag policy, but they do not check the contents of the bags.


Handicapped seating is conveniently located at the top of the lower level. Restrooms and concessions are on the concourse, but there are only two men’s restrooms and three women’s restrooms. These restrooms are small and reminiscent of a building built in the 1970s. They are kept very clean.

 

Return on Investment 4

 Lower level tickets are $15 and upper level tickets are $10. While there are plenty of ushers, they do not check tickets, so one could probably easily buy an upper level ticket and sit in one of the many empty lower level seats. With free parking and affordable, one could easily afford to take the family out for a night of basketball while visiting Williamsburg.

 

Extras 1

 One extra point for the friendly staff and ushers at the arena. Many of them welcomed us upon entry and wished us a safe trip home when leaving.

 

Final Thoughts

 Kaplan Arena may not be on a lot of folks’ college basketball radar. The CAA is a good mid-major basketball league and has some great teams at the top, so one is almost guaranteed to see a good game. Many folks visit Williamsburg for its history and culture, and Kaplan Arena is a great place to catch a game if you are in town during the winter months.

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