McDonough Arena – Georgetown Hoyas
Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
McDonough Arena 37th Street NW Washington, DC 20007
Year Opened: 1951
A Visit to McDonough
McDonough Arena is located on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and is the home to the Hoyas’ women’s basketball team. Although the men play downtown in Capital One Arena, the women play on campus in McDonough, in a much smaller, more intimate setting. McDonough Arena opened in 1951 and is named after Reverend Vincent J. McDonough, who was also the Hoyas athletic director from 1916 to 1928.
According to legend, McDonough was asked what he wanted for the 25th anniversary of his priesthood in 1939, and replied “You give the boys a new gym and I’ll be happy.” Although the Reverend did not live to see it, construction on a new arena began in 1950 and it opened the following year.
Rather confusingly, the event space where basketball is played is called McDonough Arena, while the whole building, which also includes training facilities and offices, is called McDonough Gymnasium.
Food & Beverage 3
There is one concession stand at McDonough Arena, located at a small window off the lobby. Although there is only a basic selection, prices are quite reasonable. If you’re looking for a meal, your only real options are hot dogs ($4, or $5 with chili and cheese) and personal pizzas ($4 for cheese or pepperoni). Snacks include nachos ($5), popcorn ($4), soft pretzels ($4), and candy ($2). Thirsty fans can buy lemonade for $4 and canned soda or bottled water for $2. McDonough Arena serves Coca-Cola products. Like most on-campus facilities, alcohol is not available.
Walking through the front doors of McDonough Gymnasium will put you in the lobby of the building, from which you can check out trophy cases commemorating various athletic accomplishments, pick up a program, or buy your tickets at a table if you don’t already have them. From there, you will need to walk through another set of wooden doors to get into the arena itself. All seating is located on the two sidelines and consists of beige risers without backs. However, fans who sit in the top row are able to lean against the wall. All seats are close to the action and provide an excellent view. Hoyas fans wishing to sit behind the team bench should sit in sections 110 or 111, while fans of the visiting team can sit in sections 115 or 116 to be behind their bench.
There is an overhead scoreboard above the middle of the floor, as well as two smaller scoreboards in the corners. All scoreboards are rather basic and show the score and time. The board in the middle also shows team fouls and timeouts remaining. Unfortunately, it can be hard to keep looking up at it, especially for fans in the lower few rows. There are what appears to be small video boards over the two corner scoreboards, but they were not functional when we went.
During the game, the cheerleaders and pep band provide a lot of energy to get the crowd into it, and entertainment like t-shirt tosses and contests keep the fans engaged during breaks in the action.
Georgetown’s campus is located in the neighborhood of the same name, which is one of the oldest and nicest neighborhoods in the District of Columbia. There are numerous restaurants ranging from casual sandwich shop Booeyonger’s to luxurious upscale restaurants such as 1789, and everything in between. All of this is located just a short walk or drive away from the University.
If you’re willing to head downtown to the National Mall area, the District has so much more to offer, and the best part is that most of it is free. Whether it’s taking in the sights and monuments on the Mall itself, or visiting one of the many museums such as the various Smithsonians, there’s something for everyone. All of the government-run attractions are free, but some of the private ones are not. Just keep in mind if you wish to tour the White House or Capitol, you will need to book in advance.
The crowd at a Georgetown women’s game is decent enough, given the size of the arena, but unfortunately is only a small fraction of what the men draw downtown. Most of the people in attendance are families with young children, and some of the kids get pretty into it, but others seem more interested in their phones or other electronic devices. The adults in the crowd can get into it too, especially after big plays by the Hoyas.
Most fans sit in one of the three center sections on either side of the court, which can make the arena seem more full than it actually is, but this is not necessarily a bad thing as it enhances the atmosphere.
The Georgetown campus is located just across the Francis Scott Key Bridge from Virginia. Fans coming from that direction should turn left on Canal Road after coming across the river, and the campus is just up ahead after that. Coming from Maryland isn’t quite as easy, but still is pretty simple. However, if coming to a weeknight game, you’ll probably be traveling at rush hour. D.C. traffic is among the worst in the country, so allow a lot of extra time if that’s when you plan to come. Traffic on weekends and the occasional weekday afternoon shouldn’t be as bad.
Once you’re on campus, parking is available in the Southwest Garage. There is ample space available, but some of the spaces may be tight, especially for drivers of larger vehicles. Parking is free on weekends, but is $5/hour during the week, and only cash is accepted so make sure to bring some.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets to most games are just $5 each, and a handful of games are even free. Throw in the affordable concessions and the possibility for free parking, which is almost unheard of in the Georgetown neighborhood, and a visit to a Georgetown women’s game can be an affordable experience for the whole family. To maximize your value, try to come to a game on a weekend to avoid paying for parking and maybe even check out one of the free ones if you can make it. However, $5 per ticket is still a good value.
Be sure to check out the various trophy cases in the lobby honoring not just Georgetown’s basketball achievements, but their championships in other sports as well. Once inside the arena itself, be sure to check out the Georgetown men’s team’s championship banners hanging on the wall. There are free programs available at a table in the lobby, which is worthy of a third and final star in this category.
The unfortunate reality is that at most schools, women’s basketball doesn’t have nearly the same popularity the men’s game does, and Georgetown is no exception. However, rather than have the women use the same arena as the men and play games in a nearly empty arena, Georgetown has opted to have the women play in a much smaller venue on campus. This allows the team to create an intimate and impressive experience at affordable prices, something that would not be possible if they shared the men’s arena downtown.