In which arena would you rather experience a game?
Total Votes: 4,623
Each week we pit two arenas and fans against each. Could be arenas of rival teams, arenas with similar characteristics or arenas that are simply historically significant. Then it's put up to vote and you decide which arena has the greatest home-court advantage.
In this week's installment we have our first non-conference matchup, pitting Vanderbilt's Memorial Gymansium (SEC) against Minnesota's Williams Arena (Big Ten).
You've heard about raising the roof, but what about raising the floor? That's the unique element these two arenas share. At both arenas, the playing surface is elevated a few feet off the ground.
At Williams Arena, also known as "The Barn" due to its barrel-vaulted roof and loft-style seating in the second deck, the setup is such that team benches, officials tables, etc., are actually below the court. The Golden Gophers' all-time record at Williams Arena, which opened in 1928, stands at 710-279. This excludes the seasons of 1993-94 through 1998-99, which were vacated as a result of NCAA sanctions.
In addition to its raised court, Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym also features an extra-wide sideline unlike any other in the nation. Opened in 1952, it was dedicated as a campus memorial to students and alumni killed in World War II. The Commodores have posted a record of 682-188 in Memorial Gym.
If you've visited either of this week's featured arenas, chip in with your experiences in the message board below.
|Memorial Gymnasium -- home of the Vanderbilt Commodores|
Built in 1952, the gym has been expanded three times, yet still has kept its unique style. The one-of-a-kind arena was built to be a concert hall as well as gymnasium and has a capacity of 14,316. Benches are situated at either end of the court behind and just to the side of the baskets, not allowing coaches to roam the floor to catch the attention of their players.
Another unique feature is the location of the crowds on the baseline on either side of the court actually below the raised playing surface. The noise generated from the student section and the pep band combined with the initial architecture and special design acoustics create an exceptionally loud hostile environment for opposing teams as well as a boost to the home team.
Coaches and teams also benefit. Vanderbilt has invested $25 million in renovations, which includes a new practice facility connected and directly adjacent to Memorial Gymnasium. This gym is no second fiddle either as it includes a three cross-court playing floor, coaching offices, a donor room and a Hall of Champions.
Bring the family, there is a lot to do in Nashville.
Nashville is the Home of Country Music, the Grand Old Opry, the Tennessee Titans, and Nashville Predators. Known as the "Athens of the South," an authentic replica of the Parthenon in Greece is a must-see tourist attraction that's within walking distance to Vanderbilt Memorial Gym.
"I am crossing all the bridges to the farm lands and the ridges to the backlands of my homeland down in Nashville, Tennessee. There are still some open spaces and lots of friendly faces to welcome you to the places where I like to be. There are Music City cowboys singing country music songs and even though I may not be home you know where my heart belongs. It's back in Music City the place where I was born, right inside of Vanderbilt, during a March Madness morn."
|Williams Arena -- home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers|
Williams Arena features a unique raised floor design, one of very few in the country. The playing surface is raised approximately two feet above the player's benches. Excluding players and game officials, only the head coaches are allowed onto the floor during the game. The surface is presently being replaced, but up until this point remained the same surface as what was played on back in 1928. From 1950 until 1971, our home court had the largest seating capacity of any arena in NCAA basketball. Additions include the Williams Arena Club, located on the third floor at the east end, as well as 21 barn lofts, built on the second deck with an excellent view of the action.
The student section has many traditions, my favorite would be calling out of player's steps after they foul out. Some call this section "The Barnyard," but they definitely provide the atmosphere of any top-tier NCAA basketball game.
I believe it was here that Ricky Byrdsong, coaching the Northwestern Wildacts, left the bench and went into the stands during the game to talk to fans.
While there have been many memorable moments within the Barn, the most well-known is probably the brawl in 1972 vs. Ohio State. In the infamous event, the Bill Mussleman-led Gophers attacked a group of Buckeye players. Corky Taylor and Ron Behagen were suspended for the season after the fight. But, that year, the "Iron Five", or five remaining players including Dave Winfield, still went on to win the Big Ten title.
|Gary Parrish's take|
I've never been to Williams Arena. Let me state that up front.
But I have been to Memorial Gymnasium (many times, in fact), and I can tell you with a degree of certainty that it is one of the neatest arenas in college basketball. Not the best, per se. Just neat and unique, and I'm not even talking about the raised court that requires coaches to sit under the goals.
That's part of it, sure.
But what I take away from Memorial, mostly, is that you feel like you're in a box (as opposed to an arena) because of the way the corners aren't rounded. In other words, Memorial doesn't have those deep corners that most arenas have, which gives the building four distinct sections -- one behind both goals, plus the sidelines. The design is pleasantly strange. And the levels seem to be stacked on top of each other to the point where it looks intimidating from the floor and sounds really loud from anywhere.
Bottom line, I dig that place. Memorial gets my vote.