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  • Richard Smith

Knott Arena – Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers

Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Knott Arena 16300 Old Emmitsburg Rd Emmitsburg, MD 21727

Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers website

Knott Arena website

Year Opened: 1987

Capacity: 3,121


Basketball on the Mount

Everyone knows Georgetown University. And many know that school is the oldest catholic university in the United States. But not as many people know of the second oldest catholic university, Mount St. Mary’s University, in Emmitsburg, Maryland. In fact “The Mount” is the oldest independent catholic institution of higher learning in the country, having started in 1808. Approximately 2,250 students attend the university.

Located in a semi-mountainous area of Frederick County, Maryland just south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Mount St. Mary’s sits on 1,400 acres at the base of the Catoctin Mountains. No wonder the school adopted the Mountaineers moniker for their sports teams.

NCAA success in basketball has been consistent for the university. They were NCAA Division II national champions in 1962 and have appeared in five NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournaments. That last appearance was in 2017.

Former coach Jim Phelan was in charge of the Mountaineers program from 1954 to 2003. 830 wins (overall record of 830-524) in all divisions. In those 49 years, 19 of his teams amassed 20 or more wins in a season. He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in April 2008. As of the 2014-2015 season he is at 14th most all time wins and his 1,354 games coached is 4th on the all time list.

Mount St. Mary’s has had some success in other sports, most notably track. In the 1988 Olympic Games, Mount St. Mary’s athlete Peter Rono won gold in the 1500 meters run.

Babe Ruth was even discovered here on campus, as his Mary’s Industrial School for Boys of Baltimore played a game here in Emmitsburg, which was noticed by a scout from the then minor league Baltimore Orioles.

The Mountaineers moved into Knott Arena in 1987. Previously they played their home games in Memorial Gymnasium which was built in 1948 and still sits on the main part of the university’s campus.

Food & Beverage 4

There are two small food stands, each located on the ends of the small concourse. Use the east side stand as it tends to get slightly less traffic. But you will seldom have to wait long as they are usually not that busy.

Food offerings are light so you may wish to eat before the game. What they do have is very fair in price. An ATM is found in the concourse lobby.

Hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, nachos, sodas and some light snacks are all available, as well as cookies, chips and candy . Soda is Pepsi brands. Utz chips are $1 and are designated as the official snack of “The Mount,”

There is a beer stand in the lobby that offers Flying Dog brand as well as Yuengling, Miler Lite, as well as hard seltzer and wine.

Atmosphere 4

The main seating in Knott Arena is wooden bleachers. The lower section of the east stands has seats with seat back. If you sit on the wooden bleachers, you can expect to be a little uncomfortable. The arena seats could use to be remodeled and replaced with better options.

There are the east and west stands for most of the spectators, with a small seating section located on the north end.

Knott Arena is a pretty simple place, but can get pretty loud at times. The design is meant to recreate the atmosphere at their former home, while still offering modern amenities.

The university does have a cheerleader and dance squad that entertains at some breaks in the game. There is also a mascot named Emmit the mountaineer.

Take note of the banners in the arena showing the great successes of the basketball programs at Mount St. Mary’s.

Neighborhood 3

There is nothing within walking distance to the campus. You will need to make a short drive into town to find any food or drink options. Emmitsburg is a pretty small town, but does have some interesting places that draw people to the area, besides just the university. The town is the home of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial, National Emergency Training Center, and Emergency Management Institute.

Also in the immediate area are some very notable Catholic attractions. It is a Catholic pilgrimage site and is the location of the Basilica and National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton as well as the site of the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. A trip to the area demands a visit to the grotto even if you are not religious. It would be hard not to be impressed with the quiet awesomeness found here.

Nearby Thurmont also has some attractions of its own, including Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park, which contains the presidential retreat of Camp David. Just note if you are hiking in the woods and see signs to turn around or be shot, these are not jokes.

Frederick is about 30 miles away, while Baltimore (60 miles) and Washington, DC (70 miles) are the closest large cities.

Back in Emmitsburg, the best food option is the The Ott House Pub in downtown. This bar and restaurant is a great mix of locals, firefighters, and university students. The food menu will not blow you away but their wings, as well as their hot roast beef sandwich, will certainly hit the spot. Check to see if they have a local beer from Flying Dog Brewery on tap.

Gettysburg is 13 miles north. If you have time to visit the massive amounts of memorials and battlegrounds you should do so. Just plan ahead as crowds are huge at many times of the year.

Fans 4

The crowd is definitely into the game and can get pretty intense. They take the game very seriously.

The crowd is still pleasant, with lots of parents and older supporters. At the game of this review, there were also students in attendance, although it was their first day back on campus, so there may be more at some other games.

Access 4

Sure Emmitsburg can feel like it is in the middle of nowhere, but it really is not. There is a major highway, Route 15, that divides the campus. This route runs from Frederick in the south, northwards towards Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.

Knott Arena, and the rest of the PNC Sports Complex, is located on the east side of Route 15, while the main part of the university campus is located on the west side. A well lit and secured tunnel connect the two parts of campus.

There is also plenty of free parking. Many parking attendants will be there to direct you to a good parking spot. At the end of the night, these same attendants will direct you to a convenient exit onto Route 15 just north of campus.

Return on Investment 4

General admission tickets (the unreserved bleacher seats) are $10 each. Section 5, which includes the center court bleacher seats, are $12 each. The blue arm chair seats are $15 each and there are court side seats for $25.

With simple and cheap prices, games at “The Mount” are a great value, especially for Division I athletics. Parking is free, adding to the value of seeing a Mountaineers game.

Extras 4

Check out the interesting John J. Dillon Field House roof. This recreation center is attached to Knott Arena and has four multi purpose basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts and is surrounded by a jogging track. The roof is some sort of air controlled roof reminiscent of some of the older domed stadiums, such as the former RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

With Jim Phelan, Mount St. Mary’s had one of the greatest basketball coaches in NCAA history. Check out all the banners and other historical items around the arena and concourse.

If one does not stop by and check out some of the Catholic icons in the area, you are really missing something. The Grotto of Lourdes is a fantastic and serene place that takes you to another place. You do not have to be religious to find the sites inspiring.

The game we attended also had a bake sale going on in the lobby. Who doesn’t like a bake sale?

Final Thoughts

Mount St. Mary’s can often be forgotten about because of its seemingly isolated location, but a basketball fan needs to make a visit as high quality Division I basketball is being played in a very comfortable arena, at amazingly cheap prices.

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