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  • Richard Smith

Memorial Hall – Delaware State Hornets

Photos Courtesy of Delaware State University

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Memorial Hall 1200 North DuPont Highway Dover, DE 19901

Year Opened: 1982

Capacity: 3,000


Step Into the Hornet’s Nest

Delaware State has been a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) since its founding in 1970. The MEAC is made up of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) located between Florida and Delaware. Delaware State is the smallest of the MEAC schools with a little over 3,600 students and was ranked 9th among all HBCUs by U.S. News & World Report in 2014. It opened in 1891, eventually to be named Delaware State College and later changed to a university in 1993. One of their most unique programs is the university-based flight school, and it also has a fine business school.

The Hornets basketball team plays at 3,000-seat Memorial Hall, a fairly nondescript building near the front of their Dover campus. They have appeared in the NCAA Tournament one time in 2005 and twice in the National Invitation Tournament. In 2015 they played in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) Tournament.

Food & Beverage 1

There are no permanent food stands in Memorial Hall. and no outside food is allowed into the facility. The recommendation is to eat before or after a Delaware State game. Near the back of the arena, tucked away in one of the corners, is a table set up selling some very basic food options. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, popcorn, pretzels, soda, water, and Gatorade is about all you get. Local favorite Grotto Pizza will also be at some games selling their slices.

Atmosphere 4

The atmosphere at a Delaware State basketball game is pretty great. Memorial Hall is basically a large high school gym type of design. There is no concourse as once you get past the box office lobby you enter directly into one corner of the arena. Simple bench type stands surround the court on four sides.

The arena may be simple in design, but the place is very loud. The students, fans, cheerleaders, band and music DJ keep the fun going. Expect to also see the step squad from opposing teams, as well as the home squad, to provide even more of a fun environment. Many of the games will also be a men’s and women’s doubleheader, so check the schedule and come early, if possible, as you will certainly enjoy it. Look out for the cool Hornet mascot wandering the sidelines.

Neighborhood 3

There is no real neighborhood around Memorial Hall. The arena sits off the very busy DuPont Highway. You can see the Dover Mall and Dover International Speedway from the entrance. You can have even heard stock cars screaming around the speedway at times as you walk towards the game. A closed big box store is located right next to the north stand, with another still opened store nearby as well. So if you need pet supplies you will be good to go.

The area is good if you need food and sustenance before or after the game. Legendary local chain Grotto Pizza has a sports bar located across the street at 1159 N DuPont Highway. They have never been a favorite of mine but fans of them will flock there.

Other great choices include Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop on Gateway S Blvd, Restaurant 55 at 2461 S State St, La Tolteca Restaurant at 859 N Dupont Hwy and 33 West Ale House & Grill at 33 W Loockerman Street. The Fire and Ice Bar at Dover Downs Casino is another choice for a drink after the game.

Fans 4

The gym is small and fills up quickly. Even students have often turned away because of the facility being at capacity. The fans are loud and proud of their Hornets. When a big rival is in town, such as their Delmarva peninsula neighbor University of Maryland Eastern Shore, expect to see the intensity upped to another level.

Access 4

The university is right off of a major road in DuPont Highway. A toll road, Route 1, which takes you most of the way north to Wilmington, is also nearby. Dover is about a one and a half hour trip from Philadelphia or Baltimore, and at least two hours from Washington DC. It seems close by on a map but is isolated at the center of the Delmarva Peninsula.

If venturing to a shore destination such as Ocean City, Maryland or Rehoboth, Delaware, then Dover may make a quick, enjoyable stop, but as a destination, it is not the easiest location to travel to. Watch out for NASCAR weekends when traveling in the area; those weekends are not recommended unless you have no other options, as traffic can pile up, so leave yourself additional time in those cases. There may also be tolls unless you are already on the eastern shore or the Delmarva region.

If traveling from the DC and Annapolis area you will have to pay tolls across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. If going around the top of the bay from Baltimore you will have to pay very hefty tolls on either Route 40 or I-95. And coming from Norfolk you will need to pay for the Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Parking is easy as you will be directed by university police to various lots around the campus. There is no cost to park, but expect a midday evening game to be more difficult to park because of classes.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets run from $10 for general admission up to $25 for courtside reserved seats. Since the arena is so small the best bet is to just stick with the general admission level. Just make sure to plan ahead since the arena is small. You do not want to be turned away at the door. Even students are encouraged to go online and claim their tickets ahead of time.

Extras 2

There is a Delaware State University Athletic Hall of Fame display in the entrance lobby. Although Delaware State is not super well known in terms of sports, the listing of the greats of numerous sports from here on campus is a nice stop on the way in and out of the game. If you have never witnessed a step squad, make sure to sit down and enjoy their act/competition. It will blow you away.

Final Thoughts

There is really not much to Delaware State’s Memorial Hall. A simple, small gym located in a pretty boring looking building. But the small, intimate size allows for a loud and fun environment for basketball.

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