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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Lavietes Pavilion - Harvard Crimson

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Lavietes Pavilion

65 North Harvard St.

Boston, MA 02163

Year Opened: 1926

Capacity: 1,636

Old Walls, New Court

Lavietes Pavilion is the third oldest building used for basketball among Division One schools. Only Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym and Northeastern’s Matthews Arena are older. It was originally known as the Briggs Center, named for LeBaron Russell Briggs, who served the University in a variety of roles for almost 35 years, and who later served as the president of the NCAA.

Lavietes Pavilion is named for Ray and Estelle Lavietes. Ray was a Harvard class of 1936 alumnus and two-year basketball letterman who was a frequent benefactor to the athletic program. His generosity inspired a $2.1 million refurbishing project to the building that was completed in 1995. Additional renovations were completed prior to the 2017-2018 season. The facility was expanded and modernized, with 5,000 square feet added to accommodate a new lobby, ticket offices and locker rooms. A new state of the art scoreboard was added, and repairs were made to the bleachers, the facility’s skylight and roof. These renovations totaled over $15 million.

For years the Briggs Center housed Harvard’s indoor track teams. Harvard’s baseball teams used the building as well. Many Red Sox, including Ted Williams, were frequent visitors to the facility’s indoor batting cages and second-floor track. Harvard’s basketball teams played in the Indoor Athletic Building-Now named the Malkin Athletic Center-until the construction of the Gordon Track and Tennis Center in 1981.

The Crimson team has made five NCAA tournament appearances in their history, including a streak of four in a row from 2012-2015. The team made it all the way to the elite eight in their other lone appearance in 1946. Four Harvard alumni have played in the NBA.

Food & Beverage 3

There is a single concession stand under the east bleachers which offers a pretty basic menu. Hot dogs, nachos and assorted snack items comprise the entire menu. As you might imagine, with only one stand in the arena, lines can and do form at halftime. Plan your trip accordingly. On the plus side, no item here costs more than six dollars.

Coca-Cola products are featured at Laveites Pavilion. While no alcoholic beverages are sold here, The Crimson Pub, located next door to the gym at Dillon Hall is open before and after selected games, as well as during halftime if you feel like running next door for a quick drink during the break. A small pub menu and mixed drinks are sold here in a relaxed atmosphere.

Season ticket holders can enjoy a pregame or halftime spread in the Lavietes Lounge, which overlooks both the court and the Charles River. In addition to special food items, this is the only place in the building where you can purchase an alcoholic beverage. Sorry folks, season ticket holders only may access the lounge.

Atmosphere 3

Anyone who is familiar with Ivy League sports, or basketball in general in the northeast, can verify that the atmosphere at the games is much more laid-back than in other parts of the country. Lavietes Pavilion is no exception to this rule.

If you haven’t visited Lavietes in a while, you will undoubtedly be impressed by the recent renovations which modernized and brightened the arena but kept its intimate feel. The large videoboard which hangs at center court is put to good use with graphics, replays and crowd shots. Game stats are displayed on the front of the press tables. The sound system is sufficient for this small gym, although the PA is a bit muddled.

While there doesn’t seem to be a dedicated student section at Lavietes Pavilion, there is plenty going on to keep fans interested in the game. Contests are held during play stoppages; youth teams take the court at halftime and t-shirts are tossed into the crowd throughout the game. Fans can even enjoy discounts on select items in the Coop store in the lobby.

Neighborhood 5

While walking around Boston in the middle of winter might not be many people’s idea of a fun way to spend an afternoon, the area around Harvard University is one of the more popular tourist attractions in the city. An ideal place for shopping, dining, or people watching, Harvard Square attracts visitors from all over the world.

Before or after a game at Lavietes Pavilion, take a walk across the Anderson Memorial Bridge, which spans the Charles River, and explore Harvard Square. For those wishing to bask in the history, architecture, and aura of Harvard, this is the place for you. Take a walking tour of the campus if you are so inclined and take a picture in front of the statue of John Harvard, as thousands of others have done. Remember to rub his shiny shoe, it is rumored to bring good luck.

Visiting fans looking for places to eat pre- or post-game will find no shortage of choices. Tommy Doyle’s Irish Pub is a popular stop. Mr. Bartley’s Burgers is a favorite of the student body, and Russell House Tavern boasts an impressive array of microbrews. If you are in the mood for something a little bit more exotic, the area surrounding the university contains a seemingly endless variety of culinary options.

Surprisingly, for an area with so many colleges around, there aren’t a great number of places to stay in the immediate vicinity of the Athletic Complex, so look towards downtown Boston or Cambridge for lodging. Cheaper hotel rooms can be found in the suburbs.

Fans 3

Harvard averages just over 1,500 fans per game at Lavietes Pavilion, which puts them right around the Ivy League average. Traditional rivalries against other Ivy League teams are generally better attended. Even though fans will usually have no problem finding tickets, given the small size of Lavietes, purchasing tickets in advance is advised.

As you may expect at an Ivy League gym, this is not a rowdy crowd. Make no mistake, fans here are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, but they approach the game in a more reserved manner, as you might expect at a place like Harvard.

Access 3

While Harvard University is located in Cambridge, Lavietes Pavilion is located on the other side of the Charles River in the Allston section of Boston. Also located here are most of Harvard’s other athletic facilities, including Harvard Stadium, Bright-Landry Hockey Center, Jordan Field and O’Donnell Field. There is ample parking mixed in between the many buildings in the complex and you may end up walking a little bit to get to the basketball game. It’s not unusual for several events to be going on simultaneously, as the Athletic Complex is perpetually busy.

Boston can be a difficult city to drive in, and if coming to Lavietes Pavilion on a weekday, expect to fight the legendary Boston traffic. The Harvard Athletic Complex is accessible via Storrow Drive or the Mass Pike if driving to the game. Detailed driving directions can be found here.

A much more efficient method of transportation in Boston is the subway, or “T”, as it is called locally. The Harvard Station Red Line MBTA stop is a 10-minute walk from Lavietes Pavilion across the Charles River. In addition, the 66 and 86 Bus routes stop on North Harvard Street, directly in front of the Athletic Complex. Complete schedules can be found here.

Fans will enter Lavietes Pavilion through the new, expanded lobby. There is a small team store to your left. Fans with seats in sections 1-3 will head left through the lobby and fans with seats in sections 4-6 will head to the right. Seating consists of wooden bleachers without backs located closer to the court, with individual stadium seats located at the top of the seating area. There is no seating on either end of the gym. With Lavietes Pavilion’s small capacity, you will enjoy a great view no matter where you are sitting.

Return on Investment 3

The laws of supply and demand are in full force at Harvard.

The Crimson utilize variable pricing for their games at Lavietes Pavilion, separating their games into non-conference, conference and premium (Yale, Penn, Princeton and UMass) games. Bleacher seats cost $15/$25/$30 and chairback seats cost $20/$30/$35.

Parking in the Harvard Athletic Complex can be challenging when several events are scheduled at the same time. There are parking lots on the complex which are open to the public but be aware of signage when you park. Some spots are reserved for those with permits, while others appear to be available at no charge. Other spots are metered at the rate of $1.50 per hour. Feeding a meter for a Harvard basketball game will cost no more than $6.00.

Extras 2

An extra point is awarded for the renovations that modernized the facility while preserving its old-school charms.

Banners hang on either end of the court at Lavietes Pavilion honoring Crimson conference titles and tournament appearances. At Harvard, an Ivy League title is apparently more important than an NCAA tournament appearance, as the men’s team’s seven Ivy titles each get their own banner, while the squad’s five tourney bid share a flag.

Final Thoughts

Former Crimson women’s basketball coach Kathy Delaney Smith once said “you don’t choose Harvard for the facilities,” but in Lavietes Pavilion, Harvard has one of the better small home courts in the Northeast. Plans to replace the aging facility were abandoned for a substantial renovation, which has resulted in a cozy gym which blends Ivy League tradition with modern amenities worthy of any Stadium Journey.

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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