- Jon Hart
Steinberg Wellness Center – LIU Sharks
Photos by Jon Hart, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
LIU Athletic Center 161 Ashland Pl Brooklyn, NY 11201
LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds website
Year Opened: 2006
The Hoops of LIU
*Editor’s Note – At the time of the writing of this review, the LIU system had not yet merged, and the team playing in Brooklyn was known as the Bluebirds. When the LIU campuses merged, the teams adopted the nickname Sharks.*
The LIU Blackbirds, which plays out of the Northeast Conference, made the NCAA tournament in 2018, and they have an arena befitting a championship team. The LIU Athletic Center (also known as Steinberg Wellness Center), which is a short walk from Barclay’s Center as well as a plethora of worthy destinations, is an arena with the intimacy of a gym.
Food & Beverage 3
LIU has two competent concession stands, offering candy, soda, chips, fresh popcorn, and hot dogs. No item costs more than $3. You might consider saving your appetite, as the immediate area has no shortage of dining options. Just a block away on Dekalb Avenue, there are several old-schools, hole-in-the-wall spots.
Teriyaki Burrito House, which offers Mexican with Japanese flavors, is worth a look for its name alone. For something more conventional, Appleby’s is a field goal up the block. The legendary Junior’s is close by as well. For new schools in Brooklyn, the Dekalb Market Hall offers an array of choices.
It’s low-key and eclectic. LIU has a fun band and a very capable dance squad. Both add a lot to the package.
The Blackbirds fly in the heart of downtown Brooklyn, which is growing by the day and has no shortage of activities, everything from the arts at BAM to axe throwing. Perhaps the best activity is strolling around, checking out the different, adjacent neighborhoods. If you crave more college ball, St. Francis plays just over a mile away.
New York City is a professional sports team town, so it’s an uphill struggle for colleges to garner big-time support. However, Blackbird fans, which range from students and alums to casual neighborhood spectators to mothers with kids, are engaged. And yes, the kids take the court at half-time. The Blackbirds attract about 600 fans a game.
LIU is a short walk from every imaginable public transportation option. It’s a 20-minute subway ride from midtown Manhattan. If you choose to drive, expect to hunt and peck for space, which is certainly doable. Or, you can pay for a garage, which there appears to be no shortage of.
Return on Investment 4
All tickets go for $5, and there are no bad seats. Snacks are cheap. In short, it’s one of the best deals to be had. Again, this team is coming off an NCAA year.
When I attended, the Blackbird players stuck around after the game to sign complimentary posters. They lost, but the Blackbird players put on happy faces. They seemed like good, talented dudes, worthy of support. Derek Kellogg, who formerly coached at UMass, is the Blackbird's head coach. A John Calipari disciple, it’s interesting and fun to watch how Kellogg's operates during a game. This is something you will not see at a place like the Barclay’s Center. In short, it’s big basketball at a small venue.
The LIU Athletic Center is a first-rate facility, which offers D1 basketball at unheard-of prices. When the LIU Blackbirds soar, they will fill up. There is no shortage of interesting activities for pre or post game fun.
You can follow Jon Hart @ManVersusBall.