Harry A. Gampel Pavilion – Connecticut Huskies
Home of Husky Hoops
For the most part, college sports are not the huge deal in New England that they are in other parts of the country. Of course, to every rule there is an exception, and one such exception occurs in the small town of Storrs, Connecticut, home of the University of Connecticut and their incredibly successful basketball teams.
The on-campus Harry A. Gampel Pavilion was built in 1990 to replace the Hugh S. Greer Field House, which held only 4,604 fans. The venue was named after UConn class of ’43 alumnus and industrialist Harry Gampel, who donated one million dollars towards the arena’s completion.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams share this basketball-only facility, and have a combined 15 national championships, 23 final four appearances and 62 NCAA tournament appearances on their resumes. Eighteen Huskies have been named as All-Americans, 34 UConn alumni have made it to the NBA, and 30 have played in the WNBA.
Originally built with a capacity of 8,241, Gampel Pavilion has undergone several expansions to achieve its current capacity of 10,167. Over the summer and fall of 2017 the arena was outfitted with a new roof to cover its more than 171,000 square feet of area. Gampel Pavilion is the largest on-campus basketball arena in the northeast.
While the UConn basketball teams split their home schedules between Gampel Pavilion and the XL Center, located 27 miles away in downtown Hartford, it is the on-campus arena that the team and fan base identifies as the home of Husky hoops.
Food & Beverage 4
There isn’t a whole lot of room for concessions at cozy Gampel Pavilion, but there are enough options here to satisfy hungry Husky fans.
Concession stands can be found in the four corners of the facility, adjacent to Gampel’s four entrances. A pair of permanent stands at the east and west entrances offer your basic stadium fare, including hot dogs, pizza slices, nachos, pretzels and peanuts. Fans looking for a snack can choose from fried dough, popcorn, cracker jacks, cotton candy and assorted ice cream treats.
Husky Grill stands at the north and south entrances offer burgers, sausage sandwiches and cheesesteaks, as well as a full menu of snacks and drinks. Portable carts are placed at each of the four corners of the walkway, selling snacks and drinks.
For the best concession experience at Gampel Pavilion, seek out Bear’s BBQ on the walkway near the north entrance. This Hartford institution serves some of the best barbeque in the area. If sweets are more your style, head to the portable stand by the south entrance for some fabulous ice cream from the UConn Dairy Bar, produced entirely by students. Stadium Journey recommends the Husky Tracks.
Coca Cola products are featured at Gampel Pavilion. Be warned that if you purchase a bottle of soda, the vendors will keep the cap. Alcohol is not served at this on-campus facility.
Basketball fans at the University of Connecticut are accustomed to success. The legendary women’s teams have virtually monopolized the NCAA tournament in recent years, and the men’s team has experienced its own success, with four national championships since 1999.
The first thing that will catch your eye as you enter Gampel Pavilion are the banners. UConn displays their basketball success proudly, with banners commemorating NCAA tournament appearances, Final Four appearances and conference championships hung all over the arena walls. Banners honoring notable players, teams and coaches also adorn the walls. Husky alums who have been enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame also have banners commemorating this accomplishment. Of course, national title banners for both the men’s and women’s teams hang proudly over the basketball court. Pictures of national championship teams line the walkway that circles Gampel Pavilion.
There’s no center hung scoreboard at Gampel Pavilion, but there are two video boards hung on either end of the arena. Smaller boards hang on either side of the larger board, displaying game stats.
The UConn student section adds a great deal to the game day atmosphere at Gampel Pavilion. Filling up the north end zone, the students come armed with a repertoire of chants, props and routines designed both to distract the opposition and pump up the home crowd.
The cozy, intimate quarters of Gampel Pavilion ensure that fans are right on top of the action, and the arena can get really loud when the Huskies are rolling. During play stoppages, the game day staff keep things moving with giveaways, contests, t-shirt tosses, fan cams and performances by the pep band, cheerleaders and dance squad.
Gampel Pavilion is located on the eastern edge of campus near the rest of UConn’s athletic facilities, including J.O. Christian Field. It’s a short drive from here to downtown Storrs.
The sprawling 4,000 acre campus of the University of Connecticut dominates Storrs, a village within the town of Mansfield. While there aren’t a ton of things to do or places to stay in this small town, Storrs is growing, and there are some fine options just outside of campus.
Geno’s Grille, owned by legendary coach Geno Auriemma, is an upscale Italian bistro. Randy’s Wooster Street Pizza Shop, featured in an episode of Man vs. Food, is another popular gathering spot.
Many fans coming to central Connecticut to see the Huskies will move on to Hartford, located about a 45 minute drive to the west, or the twin casinos of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, located about 45 minute to the southeast.
Basketball is undoubtedly the most popular sport here at UConn. The Huskies average over 8,500 fans per game at Gampel Pavilion. As the team enters the meat of its conference schedule, crowds grow and tickets can be more difficult to find. While the school splits the home schedule between Gampel and the larger XL Center in downtown Hartford, enough marquee games are held on campus to make a visit there worthwhile.
Husky basketball fans are accustomed to success on the court, and the squad’s recent struggles have affected their enthusiasm and involvement a bit. UConn fans arrive at Gampel Pavilion surprisingly late, and can be remarkably quiet when things aren’t going their way. On the flip side, when the Huskies are rolling, Gampel Pavilion can get really loud, providing the team with a significant home court advantage.
The University of Connecticut campus is located in rural Storrs, a village in the town of Mansfield. About a 45 minute drive from Hartford, Storrs is not directly accessible by highway. The closest Interstate is I-84, which runs from Hartford to Worcester. Fans will have to navigate local highways for about seven miles to the UConn campus.
There is plenty of parking within a short distance of Gampel Pavilion for fans arriving by car. The South Garage is located right across the street from the arena, with several surface lots and the larger North Garage located about a five minute walk down the street.
Fans enter Gampel Pavilion through one of four entrances located at each corner of the facility. Located near these entrances are concession stands and rest rooms. There is a single small walkway located halfway up the seating bowl that circles the court. Fans can watch the action while moving around Gampel, and more concession stands are tucked in the corners of this walkway.
Lower level seats at Gampel are individual blue folding stadium seats. One side of the upper level seating consists of these same stadium seats, while the rest is made up of metal bleachers without backs. With Gampel’s small size, all seats are right on top of the action and offer excellent views of the court.
Getting around Gampel Pavilion can be difficult, particularly at halftime. Plan your trips around the arena carefully.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets for UConn basketball games feature variable pricing. Ticket prices start at $36 and range up to $65, depending on the opponent and day of week. There is an active secondary market for Husky tickets, with significant bargains to be found.
Parking in the South Garage right next to Gampel Pavilion costs $12, with the North Garage and other lots further away priced at nine dollars. Concessions are priced in line with other minor league facilities in the area.
UConn Co-op – Located directly across the street from Gampel Pavilion, the university’s store contains all the Husky merchandise you could desire, and offers specials on game days.
UConn Dairy Bar – No trip to Storrs is complete without a visit to the campus dairy bar, which is open year round. Harking back to UConn’s early days as an agricultural school, all materials used in the making of the ice cream here are produced on-site by students. The milk cows can often be seen grazing out in the fields behind the shop, and customers can watch the ice cream being made on site.
Equal billing for men’s & women’s programs – Gampel Pavilion is split evenly in half, with each side of the facility dedicated to either team. It’s refreshing to see the tremendous women’s program receiving its due here.
History/banners – The success of the basketball programs are on full display at Gampel Pavilion, as virtually every open inch of wall space seems to be taken by banners honoring players or teams. Take a walk around the arena to see the plaques lining the walkway.
Robert Donnelly Husky Heritage Sports Museum – Located just a few minutes from Gampel Pavilion, the museum features displays honoring the many national champions in all sports from UConn, as well as the largest collection of Husky memorabilia anywhere.
For the most part, college basketball isn’t the big deal in New England that it is in other parts of the country. Most schools in this area play in small, functional gymnasiums with meager support. Gampel Pavilion at the University of Connecticut gives New England hoop fans a taste of how fans enjoy basketball elsewhere, with a large, but cozy building packed with rabid fans. Even though the men’s program can get overshadowed by the incredibly successful women’s team, Gampel Pavilion is still a must-see for any true college basketball fan.
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
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Originally built with a capacity of 8,241, Gampel Pavilion has undergone several expansions to achieve its current capacity of 10,167. It is now the largest on-campus arena in New England. UConn’s basketball teams have enjoyed great success here, as the men’s team has a record of 163-29 and the women’s team a record of 305-19 since Gampel’s opening.