Review originally published on www.stadiumjourney.com
When Assembly Hall opened on the campus of Indiana University in 1971, there were two National Championship banners hanging from the rafters. Since that time, three more have been added during the Bob Knight era. The mere presence of five National Championship banners makes Assembly Hall a must see for college basketball travelers.
FANFARE Score: 27 (out of 35)
F ood & Beverage: 3
There is nothing memorable about the food selection inside Assembly Hall, and fans would be better served grabbing a bite to eat either before or after the game. Sodas are sold in large cream and crimson striped cups, an easy souvenir, and something I always appreciate.
A tmosphere: 5
There is no doubt that Assembly Hall is just one of those magical venues that you need to see if you’re a true college basketball fan. The 17,456-seat arena regularly sells out, but the great thing is that it is a very large arena that still feels small. This is mostly because seats are packed high, rather than being in a stretched out bowl format.
The bad news is that it means there are some bad seats in the house because of this set up. For my experience, I sat at center court, but all the way to the top (in the “balcony”). This meant that the view of the scoreboard was a far better view of the action than the tiny bodies I could see on the court.
My advice is to make the most of your experience and shell out the extra bucks to get good seats. It is remarkable though that even in down years, the fans come out in droves and the arena is electric when the Hoosiers go on a run. Combine that with the history that seeps into your pores as you enter the building, and you are in for a great fan experience.
N eighborhood: 3
Immediately surrounding the arena there isn’t much of a presence of bars or restaurants, but less than a mile away you can find a few options. In these situations, I generally like to avoid the parking lot of park in between the arena and the eating destination of my choice.
For pre or postgame, I can definitely recommend Scotty’s Brewhouse. They have a large beer selection including many local brews, and a deep menu, including some delicious ribs. My one complaint is that they were terribly understaffed, and the bartender explained away the lag in service by saying they’re “not usually this busy.”
Really? On a game day, you didn’t expect to be busy? Come on. Despite that management flaw, the food and beer menu are redeeming enough to recommend.
F ans: 5
There’s just something special about Indiana basketball. You feel it when you enter the arena, and you definitely notice it when the game begins. At every other Big Ten stadium, there are some (or in some cases many) fans who yell irrational things, and it’s understandable—it’s the subjectivity that accompanies being a fan.
However, the Hoosier fans just seem to have a higher basketball IQ. When they yell at a ref it just sounds like truth. That may seem like an overstatement, but truly I did not hear one fan comment that seemed clouded by their loyalty to the Crimson and Cream.
The pep band is also one of the better ensembles in the Big Ten. When they play "Indiana, Our Indiana" you know you are in a basketball heaven.
A ccess: 3
There is plenty of parking available both on the street and in the arena parking lot. My recommendation is to park a few blocks away and enjoying walking through the neighborhood. Bathrooms are fine, but if you sit in the upper level, please take my advice and wait for the elevator. Those stairs can be unbearably tough. Patience, as they say, is a virtue.
R eturn on Investment: 4
I paid $50 on a resale ticket shop for my seat at the very top of Assembly Hall—a pretty steep price for an equally steep view, but I still think it was worth the price to be in that arena. In fact, if I could do it again, I would pay more for a better seat.
In my visits to each college basketball arena in the Big Ten, however, it was the most expensive seat I had, and probably the second worst view.
Still, a trip to a Top Ten all-time program, even in bad years, is worth that price.
E tc: 4
Extra points awarded for those five National Championship banners, for the knowledge of the fans, for the great pep band, and just for being a historic place. You can’t help but picture the famous shot of Bobby Knight tossing a chair across the floor when you stare down at that hardwood.
When I was a kid, I used to videotape college basketball games and re-watch them over and over. One of my favorites was a Michigan/Indiana game where Jay Edwards hits a game winning shot at the buzzer. I loved watching that shot, in part, because of the fan reaction that you pick up from the tv both visually and audibly.
I always wanted to experience a game at Assembly Hall, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Make sure you add this to your to do sports list.
Paul Swaney is the Co-Founder of Stadium Journey.