Our sports reporters travel around the Ivy League to watch the Light Blue. Games aside, the experience at each venue is unique. We'll review each arena/field/gym after we travel there.
On Saturday, I went up to Harvard to watch men's basketball face the Crimson.
I was expecting a competitive game. I was wrong, but at least I got to go to Harvard's basketball arena, Lavietes Pavilion, for the first time. Game aside, it was not my best experience as a visiting media member.
Venue accessibility: A. I bused to Boston, took the train to Harvard Square, then walked just across the river to Harvard's athletics complex. Penn aside, this is pretty much as convenient as it gets around the Ancient Eight.
The only negative is that the concrete stairs in the athletics complex are kind of steep and I tripped, scraping my hand to save my phone. (No, I was not texting.)
Layout: C. There's not a lot of space to walk from end to end. The food stand and snack bars were too close to the entrance and bathrooms, so the flow of people in and out mixed with the lines for food and toilets. The stairs up to media row were (relative to the entrance) all the away across the gym and behind the bleachers. Exactly what I'm looking for in an arena.
That said, there were bleachers on either side so the 2,000-ish fans could watch the game---which is the most important thing, I guess.
Media accessibility: D. This, along with the quality of the game, mattered to me the most, and I was not impressed.
a) I'd gotten courtside seats at every college basketball game I'd covered until Saturday, when I sat in Lavietes' nosebleeds. My view was partially blocked by the heads of the media members in front of me ... and that's after I moved for a better view. WKCR's duo was next to me, calling the game, and actually had to stand the entire time.
Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised—Lavietes was constructed in the 1920s to be used for track. It was only converted to a basketball facility in the 1980s after renovations.
b) Home-team interviews were in a lounge up the stairs to the right (see photo below). Road team interviews were outside the visiting team's locker room, up stairs on the left. As far as I could tell, there were no provisions for media members to talk to both teams—just one or the other.
Admittedly, it was the same way when I went to cover a pro hockey game in January. Still, it would have been nice to talk to Harvard as well. More often than not, in conference play, we get to talk to both teams here at Columbia.
Atmosphere: Inc. Entertainment during media timeouts (cheerleading) was fine and there was the standard little kids game at halftime. Lavietes did get pretty loud at times, but it's hard to compare it to other venues, where I sit in front of the crowd.
Crowd IQ: A. The crowd didn't dispute every foul call, which already makes it better than par for the course. A good deal of fans also stuck around after the game to listen to the end of Yale-Penn, which was being played over the PA. (With a Yale loss, Harvard would have clinched the Ivy title outright.) Would Columbia fans have done the same in a similar situation? Doubtful.
Game quality: F.
Or, on Harvard's grading scale, A-.