Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Pizzitola Memorial Sports Center
235 Hope St.
Providence, RI 02906
Year Opened: 1989
Brown Bears Volleyball
The Pizzitola Sports Center is named for Paul Bailey Pizzitola, Brown class of 1981. Mr. Pizzitola passed away at the age of 25 from Ewing’s Sarcoma after graduating from Brown and New York University. His family contributed $2 million towards the facility’s construction.
Part of the Erikson Sports Complex on the northeast corner of the Brown campus, the Pizzitola Sports Center contains practice and game space for the men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics, squash, and tennis teams. The lobby of the building is named for football legend John Heisman, Brown class of 1891. The main floor of the center is named the Williams Court for Howard Williams '17, a former football player, track athlete, and assistant football coach.
The Brown Bears volleyball team has won five Ivy League championships and has qualified for the NCAA tournament three times, most recently in 2021.
Food & Beverage 0
There are no concessions available at Brown volleyball matches. Fans can bring in their snacks to enjoy.
Volleyball is a fun sport to watch, particularly in a small, intimate venue like the Pizzitola Center. Fans are right on top of the action, with the great majority of fans enjoying a close relationship with the players on the court. It makes for a lively atmosphere in this fast-moving game, although much of the noise comes from the players themselves.
There’s not a whole lot of downtime in a volleyball match for extraneous noise, as the game progresses quickly. Music plays during time-outs and the PA announcer unobtrusively does their job, adding some energy to the proceedings along the way. Simple scoreboards at either end of the gym display basic game information.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the game day atmosphere here at Brown was the presence of many members of the student body, who were boisterous at times in their support of the Bears.
Meehan Auditorium is located on the residential East Side of Providence, adjacent to several other Brown University athletic venues, including Meehan Auditorium, Stevenson-Pincince Stadium, and Murray Stadium. Brown Stadium is located about a mile away.
Thayer Street, which serves as Brown University’s main street, is just a couple of blocks from the rink. Thayer Street is filled with quaint shops, restaurants and bars. A short distance in the other direction is Hope Street, which continues the eclectic vibe of the East Side with more locally owned shops and places to eat. Nearby Wayland Square and Wickenden Street offer more fine restaurants, shopping, and nightlife options.
Downtown Providence is only a mile and a half away at the bottom of College Hill. Providence enjoys a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest culinary destinations in the country, and visitors to the city will find many diverse and excellent dining and lodging choices here.
The crowd at a Brown volleyball game is what we at Stadium Journey often refer to as a “friends and family” crowd. Stadium Journey attended a game on a Friday night as many students had just returned to school for the semester. A decent crowd was on hand, estimated at 250 or so. A return visit on a Tuesday night showed close to 900 fans in attendance.
As you would expect, the crowd contained a significant number of family members of the players, along with a surprising number of students. They added some excitement to the goings on, cheering loudly for Brown rallies and kills.
The Pizzitola Sports Center is located in Brown University’s Erickson Athletic Complex, adjacent to several of Brown’s athletic facilities on the East Side of Providence. While the Brown University Campus is located near several highways, there is no direct way to get to or from campus. If driving, one must navigate a maze of neighborhood streets before arriving at the Pizzitola Center. If attending a game during a weekday, Providence can be a tough city in which to get around.
Several RIPTA buses run regularly to nearby Thayer Street, and the center of the Brown campus is just a couple of blocks from the facility. Check the RIPTA website for complete route, fare, and schedule information.
Parking is available for Brown volleyball at no charge in the Erickson Complex lot next to the Pizzitola Center. Fans unable to find a spot in the lot can utilize free on-street parking in the area around the auditorium. Finding an available spot can be tricky at times, but patient visitors should be able to find spots within easy walking distance of the arena.
The Pizzitola Center is located next to the Meehan Auditorium and several other of the university’s athletic buildings. Fans will enter the Pitz into the Heisman Lobby, which houses the Brown Athletic Hall of Fame and restrooms. A pair of entrances lead from the lobby into the gymnasium.
The Gymnasium features individual plastic folding chairs on the near side, with the remainder of the seating consisting of plastic molded bleachers. There is a small balcony with additional seating and, believe it or not, some luxury boxes. With only ten rows of seats on either side of the court and seventeen rows on either baseline, this is truly an intimate setting.
Return on Investment 5
There is no charge to attend a volleyball match at Brown University. Parking is also available for free in the Erickson Complex parking lot behind the Pizzitola Center or on the streets surrounding the athletic complex.
The Lobby of the Pizzitola Center is dedicated to John Heisman, college football legend and Brown class of 1891 alumnus. Located in the Heisman lobby is the Brown Athletic Hall of Fame. Brown may not have the most storied athletic history, but its contributions to college athletics are significant.
Banners honoring Ivy League championships and tournament appearances for all the teams that play in the Pizzitola Center hang on the walls of the gym. Bears volleyball has won five Ivy League titles and has appeared in three NCAA tournaments.
The Pizzitola Center is a basic facility that suits the needs of Brown volleyball well. It offers an intimate setting where fans can feel like a part of the action.