Lavietes Pavilion – Harvard Crimson
Home of Harvard Hoops
Lavietes Pavilion is named for Ray and Estelle Lavietes. Ray was a Harvard class of 1936 alumnus and two-year basketball letterman who was a frequent benefactor to the athletic program. His generosity inspired a $2.1 million refurbishing project completed in 1995. Additional renovations were completed at Lavietes prior to the 2017-2018 season. The facility was expanded and modernized, with 5,000 square feet added to accommodate a new lobby, ticket offices and locker rooms. A new state of the art scoreboard was added, and repairs were made to the bleachers, the facility’s skylight and roof. These renovations totaled over $15 million.
Lavietes Pavilion is the third oldest building used for basketball among Division One schools. Only Northeastern’s Matthews Arena and Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym are older. Originally known as the Briggs Center, the facility was named for LeBaron Russell Briggs, who served the university in a variety of roles for almost 35 years, and who later served as the president of the NCAA.
The building originally housed Harvard’s indoor track teams. Harvard’s baseball teams used the building as well. Many Red Sox, including Ted Williams, were frequent visitors to the facility’s indoor batting cages. Harvard’s basketball teams played in the Indoor Athletic Building – now named the Malkin Athletic Center – until the construction of the Gordon Track and Tennis Center in 1981.
The Crimson team has made five NCAA tournament appearances in their history, including a streak of four in a row from 2012-2015. The team made it all the way to the elite eight in their other lone appearance in 1946. Four Harvard alumni have played in the NBA.
Food & Beverage 3
There is a single concession stand under the east bleachers, which offers a surprisingly varied menu for such a small stand. Burgers, sausage sandwiches and hot dogs anchor the menu. Standard snack items, including nachos, pretzels, peanuts and popcorn are sold here, as are snacks ranging from churros and freshly baked cookies to fresh fruit.
Coca-Cola products are featured at Lavietes Pavilion. While no alcoholic beverages are sold here, The Crimson Pub, located next door to the gym at Dillon Hall is open before and after the game, as well as during halftime for those fans who want to run next door for a quick drink during the break. A small pub menu and mixed drinks are sold here in a relaxed atmosphere.
As you might imagine, with only one stand available for a 2,000 seat arena, lines can and do form at halftime. Plan your trip accordingly.
Anyone who is familiar with Ivy League sports, or basketball in general in the northeast, can verify that the atmosphere at the games is much more laid-back than in other parts of the country. Lavietes Pavilion is no exception to this rule.
If you haven’t visited Lavietes in a while, you will undoubtedly be impressed by the recent renovations which modernized and brightened the arena, but kept its intimate feel. The new video board which now hangs at center court is put to good use with game stats, replays and crowd shots. The cheerleaders and dance squad lead the cheers during play stoppages.
Conspicuous by their absence were the pep band and student section. Neither were in attendance on the night of Stadium Journey’s visit, and the atmosphere suffered as a result. The students that showed up scattered throughout the facility, and added little flavor to the event.
While walking around Boston in the middle of winter might not be many people’s idea of a fun way to spend an afternoon, the area around Harvard University is one of the more popular tourist attractions in the city. An ideal place for shopping, dining, or people watching, Harvard Square attracts visitors from all over the world.
Before or after a game at Lavietes Pavilion, take a walk across the Anderson Memorial Bridge, which spans the Charles River, and explore Harvard Square. For those wishing to bask in the history, architecture, and aura of Harvard, this is the place for you. Take a walking tour of the campus if you are so inclined, and take a picture in front of the statue of John Harvard, as thousands of others have done. Remember to rub his shiny shoe, it is rumored to bring good luck.
Visiting fans looking for places to eat pre or postgame will find no shortage of choices. Tommy Doyle’s Irish Pub is a popular stop. Mr. Bartley’s Burgers is a favorite of the student body, and Russell House Tavern boasts an impressive array of microbrews. If you are in the mood for something a little bit more exotic, the area surrounding the university contains a seemingly endless variety of culinary options.
Surprisingly, for an area with so many colleges around, there aren’t a great number of places to stay in the immediate vicinity of the Athletic Complex, so look towards downtown Boston or Cambridge for lodging. Cheaper hotel rooms can be found in the suburbs.
Harvard averages just over 1,500 fans per game at Lavietes Pavilion. Ivy League matchups are generally better attended than other games, but fans should have no problem getting tickets for most games. With the small size of Lavietes, purchasing tickets in advance is advised.
As you may expect at an Ivy League gym, this is not a rowdy crowd. Make no mistake, fans here are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, but they approach the game in a more reserved manner, as you would expect at a place like Harvard.
While Harvard University is located in Cambridge, Lavietes Pavilion is located on the other side of the Charles River in the Allston section of Boston. Also located here are most of Harvard’s other athletic facilities, including Harvard Stadium, Bright-Landry Hockey Center, Jordan Field and O’Donnell Field. There is ample parking mixed in between the many buildings in the complex, and you may end up walking a little bit to get to the basketball game. It’s not unusual for several events to be going on simultaneously, as the Athletic Complex is perpetually busy.
Boston can be a difficult city to drive in, and if coming to Lavietes Pavilion on a weekday, expect to fight the legendary Boston traffic. The Harvard Athletic Complex is accessible via Storrow Drive or the Mass Pike if driving to the game. Detailed driving directions can be found here.
A much more efficient method of transportation in Boston is the subway, or “T,” as it is called locally. The Harvard Station Red Line MBTA stop is a 10 minute walk from Lavietes Pavilion across the Charles River. In addition, the 66 and 86 Bus routes stop on North Harvard Street, directly in front of the Athletic Complex. Complete schedules can be found here.
Fans will enter Lavietes Pavilion through the new, expanded lobby. There is a small team store to your left. Fans with seats in sections 1-3 will head left through the lobby and fans with seats in sections 4-6 will head to the right. Seating consists of wooden bleachers without backs and individual stadium seats. In a reversal from the norm, the bleacher seats are located closer to the court, while the stadium seats are located at the top of the seating area. There is no seating on either end of the gym. With Lavietes Pavilion’s small capacity, you will enjoy a great view no matter where you are sitting.
Return on Investment 2
The laws of supply and demand are in full force at Harvard.
The Crimson utilize variable pricing for their games at Lavietes Pavilion, separating their games into non-conference, conference and premium (Yale, Penn, Princeton) games. Bleacher seats cost $20/$25/$30 and chair back seats cost $25/$30/$35.
Parking costs ten dollars in the lots around the Athletic Complex. Concessions are a bit on the high side for local college basketball, but not entirely out of line for local venues.
An extra point is given for Lavietes Pavilion’s lounge, which is available for use by fans. The lounge overlooks the court on one side and the Charles River on the other. Adding to the aura is the Crimson Pub, located next door to the court in Dillon Hall. It’s a nice, relaxing place to enjoy a drink and snack before or after the game.
A second extra point is awarded for the renovations that modernized the facility while preserving its old-school charms.
Lavietes Pavilion is similar to many other small on-campus gyms that dot the northeast. Recent renovations have served to modernize the old barn and improve fan comfort greatly. What does separate Lavietes from other local gyms is the support that the Crimson enjoy. While talk continues about a building a replacement gym nearby, right now Lavietes is a worthy stop for local college basketball fans.
Did you enjoy this content? Help support our work by becoming a supporter of Stadium Journey on Patreon. Supporter levels begin at just $2/month.
Food and Drink Recommendations
Sunset Grill & Tap
130 Brighton Ave
Allston, MA 02134
Charles Hotel Cambridge
1 Bennett St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Porter Square Hotel
1924 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
Latest Crowd Reviews
As a facility, there isn’t a whole lot that separates Lavietes Pavilion from the other small-conference gyms that dot the New England college basketball landscape. What does make it stand apart from the others it the fantastic following and capacity crowds that pack Lavietes on a regular basis. Harvard’s recent run of success in the Ivy League and NCAA tournament has made Lavietes the hidden gem of the Boston sports scene. Now that Harvard has returned to the pack in the Ivy League, time will tell if crowds continue to pack the tiny gym on the banks of the Charles.