Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
325 Plymouth St.
Bridgewater, MA 02324
Year Opened: 2002
Bridgewater State University is one of nine state universities in the Massachusetts Public Higher Education System. It was founded in 1840 by Horace Mann as the Bridgewater Normal School. As one of the first schools in the nation established to train teachers, it is considered by many to be the “Birthplace of teacher education in America” and has one of the most prominent Teaching and Education programs in the country. The university currently has an undergraduate enrollment of just under 10,000 students with an additional 2,000 students enrolled in graduate programs.
The Tinsley Center is an 84,000 square-foot facility that opened in 2002. It serves as home to the school’s basketball and volleyball teams. Athletic Department offices, classrooms, laboratories and a walking/jogging track are also contained in the facility. It is named in honor of Adrian Tinsley, who was the first female president of the college, serving from 1989-2002. She oversaw the expansion and modernization of the school as it transitioned from a college into a university. Under her leadership, Bridgewater State became the second-largest public school in Massachusetts.
The Bears compete in Division III’s MASCAC Conference, consisting of teams from around the state of Massachusetts. The Bears men’s basketball teams have qualified for the NCAA D-3 Tournament seven times, reaching the sweet sixteen in 2009. The women’s team has qualified for the NCAA tournament nine times.
Food & Beverage 2
There is a snack bar in the lobby of the Tinsley Center, which serves pizza slices, nachos and snacks. Water and Gatorade are also sold here. While not the most extensive menu you’ll ever come across, if you need a snack during the game, you’ll find what you need. No item costs more than five dollars.
The game day atmosphere at the Tinsley Center is pretty standard for a small school. With a small crowd taking in the action in a small facility, the focus is entirely on the game going on down on the court. While the crowd present is into the game, they are not overly rowdy, with good sportsmanship ruling the day.
You’ll find much that is familiar here at Bridgewater State. The cheerleading squad lines up along the near baseline, with the pep band set up on the opposite side of the court. There is a good sound system put to use with music during play stoppages and a PA announcer who leans into his work without being too over-the-top. Simple scoreboards hang on three sides of the court displaying basic game information.
The Tinsley Center is located about a mile from the Bridgewater town commons, which is where you’ll find most of the action in this small town. Visitors looking for a place to eat before or after the game will notice most of the choices in the area are fast-food chains. Locals recommend a stop at Barret’s Ale House, Emma’s Pizza or the local outpost of 99 Restaurant as the best choices near campus. There are no lodging options in the immediate area around campus. Visitors will have to check out the areas by the highways.
Fans visiting Bridgewater from out of town will likely want to continue on to Boston, located 25 miles to the north, or Cape Cod, about 30 miles to the southeast, for more points of interest, dining and lodging options. Also located nearby are the coastal towns of Plymouth and New Bedford.
As is the case at most small schools in the area, you won’t find a huge crowd at the Tinsley Center. The average BSU crowd numbers between 200-300 fans, with many of those in attendance having a personal connection with the players down on the court. You’ll be sure to find family members from both teams in attendance along with a decent turnout from the student body.
Bridgewater State University is a town of just under 30,000 residents located in southeastern Massachusetts. Boston is located about 25 miles to the north and Providence is located about 30 miles to the west. Bridgewater State University can be found in the north-central part of town about a mile from the town common.
Driving is the primary method for getting to campus, as Route 24 and Interstate 495 both pass just a few miles from campus. Visitors utilizing public transportation will find the Bridgewater MBTA Train Station on campus most convenient. Complete transportation information to the BSU campus can be found here.
Tinsley Center is located on the northern edge of the Bridgewater State University campus in the Swenson Athletic Complex. Parking for basketball games can be found adjacent to the football stadium, which will require a short walk to arrive at the Tinsley Center. A small lobby contains the snack bar, rest rooms and the BSU Athletic Hall of Fame. The gym will be on your right as you enter.
Seating consists of wooden bleachers which run along one side of the gymnasium. There is also limited seating on either end of the court. A walking/jogging track runs along the second floor overlooking the court and might be available for fans who wish to stand and take in the action. In a small gym like this, all seats feature excellent views of the action.
Return on Investment 5
Admission to a Bears game costs six dollars. All seats are general admission. Parking is free in the lot adjacent to the football stadium. Concessions are inexpensive, with no item costing more than five dollars. Free lineup sheets are available for fans to take as they enter the gym. A game at Bridgewater State is an inexpensive entertainment option for local basketball fans.
Banners honoring all Bridgewater State championship teams, tournament appearances and notable achievements across the school’s 22 varsity sports hang around the facility.
The school’s athletic department Hall of Fame is located right outside the gymnasium, displaying the hardware won by the school over the years.
While the Tinsley Center is a basic facility, it provides a solid home for the Bridgewater State Bears. Small gyms such as this can be found throughout the country, providing quality competition at an affordable price. Those of you who don’t consider lower levels when watching college sports might want to reconsider. Don’t sleep on Division Three sports!