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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Roy L. Patrick Gymnasium – Vermont Catamounts

Photos by Paul Baker, Marc Viquez and Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Roy L Patrick Gymnasium 97 Spear St Burlington, VT 05405

Year Opened: 1963

Capacity: 3,266


Cramped Quarters for the Catamounts

The Roy L. Patrick Gymnasium is a multi-purpose arena on the campus of the University of Vermont in Burlington. It is the second home to the school’s basketball team, built in 1963 to replace the Old Gymnasium, now known as the Royall Tyler Theater. Seven America East Conference title games have been played at Patrick Gym.

Basketball has been played at the University of Vermont since 1900. Today the team competes in the America East Conference, having won the regular season championship nine times and the conference tournament six times. Vermont has qualified for the NCAA Tournament six times, advancing to the round of 32 in 2005 with an upset of Syracuse, which is considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament. No player from the University of Vermont has ever played in the NBA.

In 2018 the university announced plans to build a new 3,200 seat event center between Patrick Gym and Gutterson Fieldhouse as part of a $95 million project to upgrade and modernize the school’s athletic facilities. The new gym will be called the Tarrant Events Center in honor of Rich and Deb Tarrant, who donated $15 million towards the project.

Food & Beverage 3

There is a single concession stand tucked in underneath the east bleachers. With downtown Burlington a short drive from Patrick Gym, you won’t want more than a quick snack while at a Catamounts game anyway. You’ll find what you need here.

All the basics can be found here, including hot dogs, pizza slices and assorted sandwiches. Cups of chili and assorted fruit can be found alongside arena standards pretzels, popcorn and nachos. Fans looking for something healthier may decide to have a tossed or chicken Caesar salad, while those looking for something decidedly unhealthy may add chili to their hot dog or nachos.

Coca-Cola products are sold at Patrick Gym. In keeping with the university’s green philosophy, bottles of water are not sold here. Looking for alcoholic beverages? They are not sold at this on-campus facility.

Be warned that the lines to this snack bar can get quite long. If you plan to get a snack at halftime, expect that you will miss part of the second half.

Atmosphere 3

You might assume that a smaller facility packed to the rafters would create an insanely loud, vibrant atmosphere. While Patrick Gym does create a solid home-court advantage for the Catamounts, and it can get loud when the team starts rolling, this is not quite the raucous place it could or should be. Perhaps that is due to the polite, laid-back nature of Vermonters, but you can actually talk with your neighbors at a Vermont game without having to scream. Old-school fans will enjoy the more reserved atmosphere here.

Many of the aspects of the typical college basketball experience can be found at Patrick Gym. The pep band sets up in the corner of the facility and plays through most play stoppages. There is a cheerleading team and dance squad who perform throughout the game and lead the cheers. There is a small student section, which pales in comparison to its counterpart at Catamount hockey games.

Neighborhood 4

Burlington is a fantastic city with a real bohemian vibe, known for its microbreweries and excellent dining options. Located about a mile and a half from Patrick Gym, it’s worth a visit, even in the harsh Vermont winter. The only thing keeping this neighborhood from a perfect score is that it’s not easily accessible from campus, particularly in colder months.

The Church Street Marketplace is the hub of the downtown. Filled with notable pubs, breweries, and eateries, it’s the place to be in Burlington. Visiting fans flock to American Flatbread, The Farmhouse, and Leunigs for local food and drink. Burlington has a thriving microbrewery scene, with notable breweries including Zero Gravity, Queen City, Switchback, and Magic Hat all operating pubs downtown.

Fans 4

You may not think of Vermont as a basketball hotbed, but local hoops fans fill up Patrick Gym to near-capacity night after night. Attendance in this 3,200-seat facility averages close to 3,000. When the Catamounts are in contention for the America East crown, seats can be tough to find.

While Vermont fans are enthusiastic, and Patrick Gym’s cozy confines create a solid home-court advantage for the Catamounts, this isn’t the loudest or most rowdy place a traveling basketball fan will ever come across. Catamount fans are reserved and respectful, as befits their reputation.

The student section, which gets pushed to a far corner of Patrick Gym, doesn’t have much of an effect on the atmosphere here. In contrast to the students who pack Gutterson Fieldhouse for hockey games, the students at Vermont basketball games are downright quiet.

Access 3

The University of Vermont is very easy to get to, located right off of Interstate 89 and a short distance from downtown Burlington. Patrick Gymnasium is located on the southern edge of campus, adjacent to Gutterson Fieldhouse and the university’s other athletic facilities. However, this is where the ease of access ends.

There is a parking garage located next to Patrick Gym, but be sure to get there early. Once the garage and adjacent lots fill up, you will be relegated to lots some distance from the gym. Shuttle buses run from these lots to the gym.

Fans enter Patrick Gym into a lobby, which contains a team store, vending machines, restrooms, and several sponsor tables. The lobby is a decent size, but since there is little room at Patrick Gym, it gets crowded with fans socializing, shopping, and stretching their legs.

Depending on which side of the gym you are sitting on, you will enter the gym through one of two doors. There’s no room here to stop and check out the view, lest you be trampled by the hordes of Catamount fans trying to get in behind you. A walkway in front of the grandstand will lead you to your seats.

All seats at Patrick Gym consist of wooden bleachers without backs. There are 30 rows of bleachers, so you may find yourself far from the court. Also, you will get to know your neighbors pretty well, as Patrick Gym packs the fans into close quarters. Add in the coats, hats, and gloves that have nowhere to go during the frigid Vermont winter, and this is not the most comfortable place at which to watch a game.

Return on Investment 3

Tickets to Vermont basketball games cost $20. Children under the age of 17 receive a two dollar discount. All seats in Patrick Gym are priced identically. Parking is free in the garage and lots nearby. Concessions are reasonably priced. An evening at a Catamount basketball game is an affordable entertainment option for Vermont sports fans.

Extras 2

There are banners all around Patrick Gym honoring the team’s success over its long history. Banners honoring conference championships, retired numbers, tournament appearances, and academic successes hang on the walls and from the rafters. Photos of notable alumni and trophies from Catamount championship teams decorate the lobby and there is a mural of Vermont’s athletic history located by the concession stand.

University of Vermont alumnus and frequent Phish guest musician Dave Grippo can often be found at Patrick Gym performing the National Anthem.

Final Thoughts

As a rule, college basketball isn’t the big deal in the northeast that it is in other parts of the country. That’s not entirely the case in Vermont, where the Catamounts enjoy great support at cozy and crowded Patrick Gym. Plans are in place to build a 3,200 seat, state of the art facility next door for the 2020-21 season. While Patrick Gym has seen a lot of great basketball over its 56 seasons, it’s doubtful that there will be an outpouring of nostalgia as the Catamounts wrap up their last season here.

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