Stadium Guide: Welsh-Ryan Arena

This would be a good site to put up a college basketball arena. This is a throwback to all the old style arenas. I am sure that today’s experience was similar to what it would have been like to see a game in the Lambert Fieldhouse. I never was able to see one there, but I would guess it would be similar. To get here you have to go way out of the way through many stop signs and stop lights. It is too bad that you can’t just get off 94 and go down one road to make it easier. Once you get to the arena there is not a whole lot of parking, but you really don’t need the parking. Because of traffic I pulled up to the arena with thirty minutes until gametime. I parked in the little lot very easily and made it into the game very quickly. The arena only seats 8,117 so you are not fighting a whole lot of people. There is a small track that separates the lower bowl from the upper bowl. I sat on both ends of the court just behind this track in a small section of only 3 rows. This would be a cool place to see a game. About ten minutes into the game I had to move though because the rightful owners came to take their seats. The picture at the top with the flag in the foreground is from those seats.
I am obsessed with scoreboards. I base part of my experience at a new stadium on what kind of a scoreboard that they have. At Welsh-Ryan you will get no replays. I am used to that from Notre Dame games. What you get though is the kind of dot matrix type of entertainment that I remember from my childhood at baseball games. The graphics look like something that you could program into an early PC, but something about the experience was kind of nice. Unlike Notre Dame you get to see the five players that are in the game for each team, their points, and how many fouls they have committed. I think any more data would short circuit the board. The final picture was taken from my actual seats. I was 3/4th’s of the way up at center court. I really did not have a bad view. I did have a kid climbing all over me though so I only sat in my seat for the last ten minutes of the first half. I was on a hard bench and moved to the other side of the arena behind the auxiliary press row. I sat in some chairs that reminded me of the old movie theater style chairs. Very soft compared to the wood bench. This was in the fastbreak section of the arena. From what I could gather from the few fans that were around me it is the basketball equivalent to our John Purdue club. The padded chairs were mostly unoccupied though, and by the end of the second half some enterprising Purdue fans (including yours truly) made sure that they were put to good use.
The concession stands can be found at the four corners of the arena, and are very small areas that cannot take the load of a sellout crowd. As I have said before though they are not used to those here. They will have another one next Saturday when IU comes to town so they had better be ready once again. Once you find the concessions and get up to the window they have the normal food that you would find at any high school concession stand. The bathrooms can be found by the concession stands and they are adequate.
Overall this arena is a relic. Here is how it breaks down:
Location D: Hard to get to. For starters from here I have to drive through Chicago. Then I have to backtrack from my exit off 94 in stop and go traffic.
Parking B-: Not a lot of parking, but they don’t need it. Parking lots are next to the arena. $10 seems steep though.
Ushers A+: Very friendly ushers. They were even nice kicking me out of my first claimed seat. They were also very understanding when I claimed my second seat.
Scoreboard C+: Very old, but it gets the job done. Lack of replays hurts it here.
Concessions B-: I am near Chicago. Where is the Connie’s Pizza? Adequate. Prices are the norm.
Bathrooms B-: Adequate, but not abundant. Not very modern either. Very tight quarters.
Seating A-: Not a bad seat in the house. I sat all over the arena, and could not find a bad place to sit.
Ticket Price B-: They only get the B- because of the way the time out on the computer made me buy two tickets. Tickets are $20 for a Big Ten basketball game, but they do tack on a $10 fee for handling.
Fans A: The few Northwestern fans that I found were very nice, but what choice did they have. We outnumbered them. When I saw a football game here I found that the fans were very nice as well
Overall C: This place really reminds me of Slicer Gym. The seating looks similar and the amenities are of high school caliber. I don’t know that I would go too often because of the traffic in Chicago and the path the Northwestern website gives you to get to the stadium. It was a nice place to see a game though, and I would recommend it if your favorite team is there to play.

By the way this is my 250th post on this site. Some days it feels like I am doing something good on here, and other days it feels like nobody is even reading. I have noticed a small surge lately, and I have gone over 800 people on here since I installed the counter a year ago. This is only my second stadium guide, but I think I finally have a plan on how to do them. Some more may show up this year. I will add one for every new place I go to, and I will start doing some of the places that I attend all the time.


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