Gampel Takes Home the Hardware

by Dylan Clark on January 22, 2011

in UConn Fans,UConn Men's Basketball

When a sports team plays its home games at two different venues, there will always be the question as to which is better. Our Huskies basketball teams split time between the 16,294-seat XL Center in downtown Hartford, and the smaller 10,167-seat Gampel Pavilion located in the heart of the university. According to this Husky faithful, all games should be played at Gampel Pavilion.

As it shakes down currently, only eight home games are played at Gampel while 11 are at the XL Center. After attending recent games at both venues (Villanova at Gampel on Monday, Tennessee at the XL Center Saturday) this student is of the opinion those numbers need to be reversed, if not weighted more heavily toward Gampel Pavilion. I see why the university would want to play games at the XL Center. More seats, more ticket sales, more dollar signs for the university, and who doesn’t love money? This newly broke college student loves it, but is life (basketball) all about money? No, life (basketball) is all about atmosphere and who you surround yourself with.

The XL Center has 6,000 more seats than Gampel, but that doesn’t make it better in the least bit. Those 6,000 seats go to senior citizens, a simple look around the building confirms such an observation. Now I’m not saying these fans don’t cheer, aren’t passionate, or aren’t knowledgeable about the sport because I know they are (I was a waiter in a retirement home in high school, the residents there loved UConn basketball). But lets be real, when was the last time you saw a 72 year old dude jump out of his seat for a 3 pointer? In my experience, never.  Parking is a disaster, traffic is worse, and there is nothing worse then having to take a crowded bus to and from Hartford for us students. On the plus side there are a lot of great bars and restaurants around the XL Center that are great places to go after a game.

Gampel Pavilion is a much smaller venue, but has the heart that the XL Center lacks. No one camps out to get the best seats at the XL Center, but you better believe the UConn faithful will be lining up the night before a big game at Gampel (Villanova knows whats up). And when Gampel is rocking, it is ROCKING, something you can feel in the tightly backed Pavilion benches. The XL Center is simply lacking the same effect with their luxury seats and nose bleed sections.

Gampel Pavilion IS UConn, whereas the XL Center is Hartford, far from the heart beat of the University of Connecticut. And when little kids walk out of Gampel after a big win, say like the one against Villanova, and they see the passion and heart of this school, they say “I want to be a Connecticut Husky.” Such effect is lost at the XL Center. This atmosphere is what makes Gampel superior, even though its parking and traffic (everyone whose ever been on Storrs road knows what I’m talking about) is equally atrocious.

I’ll also admit that I’m a little bit bias because I live on campus, and walking to the game that’s literally down the road is the coolest thing ever. So if anyone has something to add please do. Better yet if someone disagrees please drop a comment and let us know what your thinking.


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Anthony January 22, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Totally agree man, and also they need to give out more student tickets. The students WHO PAY TO GO TO THE UNIVERSITY only get one small section in both Gampel and the XL Center. You see other schools who have students around the whole lower bowl or even across one sideline and we have one section behind one basket, the atmosphere would be one of the best in college basketball if more students were given the opportunity to attend the games.


Dylan Clark January 22, 2011 at 10:52 pm

I know what your saying my man. i know for a fact that MSU's student section is the entire lower bowl of their stadium, and no student section is more iconic then at Cameron Indoor at Duke where it runs the whole sideline. This all comes back to the same reason that we even play games at the XL center, its all about the $$. sideline seats fetch big time bucks and the university wants to put them up for sale. the problem is i've seen those seats go unfilled somtimes, something that would NEVER happen if they were apart of the student section


ChazNation January 23, 2011 at 8:47 am

Unfortunately this has been a complain for 20 years and will be one 20 years from now. This year actually isn't that bad, go back to when the program was starting to peak and it was worse. In 1997-98 it was 11 Hartford 6 Storrs.

The reality is, like it or not, playing the 11 games in Hartford means an increase of roughly 67,000 full-price (non-student) tickets over the course of the year. If the average is $20 (no idea what it really is), that is $1.4MM in annual ticket revenue alone, never mind whatever cut the school gets of advertising, concession sales, etc.

They are in a situation shared by few schools, Villanova being one. But with a direct revenue stream of $7.3MM, moving all games on-campus means that number is cut by 20%.

So the question is, would you rather watch a lower-funded and therefore less-competitive team play in a better environment?


Patrick Hopkins January 23, 2011 at 9:23 am

All good points. Chaz sums up the revenue issue well. Would be interesting to examine records at each building over the years. Does UConn beat Nova on Monday if the game was in Hartford?

Too bad they did not know what UConn hoops was going to become when they built Gampel. Could have made an on campus facility that fit 15,000.

Let's not forget they squeezed in a 1500 – 2000 seats at over the years too. Back in my day it only fit like 8500.


Brian January 23, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Don’t forget the beer sales. They can’t sale beer in Storrs. Plus the student atmosphere was great at both games this week, but it hasn’t been that way for most of the season. The students need to support the program regardless of who they are playing and the same goes to the general public. Sell outs should mean no empty seats, there were still empty seats at both games.


Dylan Clark January 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm

its easy to say students need to show up regardless of who we play, and believe me when the game is at Gampel we show up, small time games against Fairleigh Dickenson and Stony Brook had packed student sections including myself because of the convenience. But like i said in the post, no student wants to spend money to get a bus ticket and make a trip into Hartford to watch us spank some nobody out of conference team. To students, those games take care of themselves, but when teams like Cuse and Nova come to town, it's on.


ChazNation January 24, 2011 at 9:30 am

But there is a flip side to that, do you expect alumni who live in western suburbs to drive all the way to Storrs to watch them play the Stony Brooks of the schedule?

Yes Hopkins in the mid 90s when we were there Gampel was only 8,500 or so. They added seats in the four corners to add 1500.


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