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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

RWJBarnabas Health Arena – WOBM Christmas Classic


Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

RWJBarnabas Health Arena 1245 Old Freehold Rd. Toms River, NJ 08753



Year Opened: 2003

Capacity: 3,180

 

A Holiday Tradition in Toms River, NJ


The RWJBarnabas Arena is the largest high school basketball gymnasium in the state of New Jersey. The facility was dedicated on June 19, 2003, and hosts a variety of events such as professional and varsity sporting events, live music concerts, trade shows, and much more.


The facility holds 3,500 and serves as home to the Toms River Regional School District. Due to its size, all three high schools of North, East, and South call the venue home. The arena also hosts a variety of entertainment options from concerts, wrestling, and graduation ceremonies. Kenny Rodgers, Paul Anka, Jay Leno, and Natalie Cole have performed at the RWJBarnabas Arena.


The arena is home for 7 days during the Christmas season to one of the largest high school tournaments in the state, the WOBM Holiday Classic. The event is home to 32 teams, 16 boys and girls varsity teams, from all over Ocean Township that play a total of 52 games.


Food & Beverage 3

There is one main concession stand in the lobby of the building that provides your typical snacks and drinks. The menu items include deli-style sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, muffins, granola, and varieties of fruit. You will also find the regular menu items of nachos, pizza slices, chicken fingers, pretzels, popcorn, chips, and soda. The prices range from $1 for the popcorn to $4.50 for deli sandwiches.


Atmosphere 3

A typical day at the arena begins at 10 a.m. and ends at a 9 p.m. tip-off for basketball games during the tournament. Fans are treated to four girls and four boys' games and one ticket gets you into all the games for one day. The atmosphere of a crowd depends on who’s playing and usually, the evening games bring out a more raucous crowd to the facility.


The arena serves as home to all three Toms River high schools and there appears to be a lack of any conference or Championship banners for any of these three schools in the building. However, there are plenty of colorful banners from the conference high schools that hang from the rafters and there are several banners from the various elementary schools of the district.


The arena also is home to a large scoreboard that can keep individual stats and styles throughout the game. There is bleacher seating on all four sides and bathrooms are located in the main lobby near the concession stand. Just around the corner from the bathrooms is the Hall of Fame atrium which houses various memorabilia, photos, and plaques from all three High School’s sports programs.


Neighborhood 3

The arena is located in a mixture of both retail and residential neighborhoods that includes local and national restaurants and the Ocean County Mall. Fans are also not too far away from Point Pleasant Beach, but probably wouldn’t be the best place to spend some time during late December. There are various places to enjoy food and beverage and a little shopping before or after a game or two.


The area offers various local establishments to enjoy a bite to eat or a drink that includes Social 37, SWAGGERS Restaurant and Sports Bar, Toms River Ale House, The Office, and Christopher’s Pub. The Jersey Shore Premium Outlets is located off the Garden State Parkway and Insectropolis is a bug museum that provides everything you need to know about all types of bugs.


Fans 3

Depending on the school and its basketball prominence, you will find a vast selection of fans rooting for the players or their alma mater. The largest schools the ones closer to the arena will more than likely bring out the best of the fans in the stands. However, there is a selection of both young and old rooting for their favorite team on the court and showing a lot of team spirit.


Access 4

The arena is located about two miles off the Garden State Parkway and is easily accessible from both the north and south. If traveling from the western portion of the state, expect to travel on various county roads and through small towns to arrive at the arena. The arena does have plenty of parking surrounding it and once inside everything a fan would want to be able to get to – their seat or to the bathrooms – is easily marked.


Return on Investment 4

The price of a ticket for an adult is $7 for an all-day pass. This means that one can enjoy eight different games for one low price. Children's tickets are only $5 for the same all-day pass. If you are planning on staying around for a few days a $20 tournament pass allows entry to all 52 games played at the arena.


Extras 3

The arena gets one point for its large and informative scoreboard. I have been to many high school basketball gyms over the past few seasons and I hate to say this, but the best one that I’ve seen is in New Jersey. It is one of those old-school scoreboards from the early 1990s but works perfectly here providing statistics of each player throughout the game.


The arena gets a second point for having a collection of wonderful banners from various schools throughout the county. It’s a little bit different to see rival schools hanging up in the arena, but it does add a nice touch of color to the building.


The arena gets the third point for being more than just a basketball arena. It houses concerts and other events and has attracted entertainers such as Kenny Rogers, Paul Anka, Jay Leno, and the late Natalie Cole throughout its 15-year history.


Final Thoughts

The RWJBarnabas Arena is the largest of its kind in New Jersey and provides a perfect centerpiece for basketball and entertainment in Ocean County in Toms River. It has easy access off main highways and ample parking spaces for patrons


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