Now that’s how to renovate a place

On a cold Saturday Afternoon, I made the two-hour trip to Philadelphia to see #78 on the list, newly renovated Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, now known as Michael J. Hagan ’85 Arena. Saint Joseph’s University was the team and I’ve always enjoyed watching them play on TV in their little bandbox gym. Not only watching their stellar 2003-2004 team led by Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, but even back to 2001 when Marvin O’Connor was lighting it up for them. I never realized that they were right near the edge of Philadelphia, I always thought they were in the middle like Penn or Temple. But the campus is right on the border of Montgomery Co. and Lower Merion Twp, on US-1 or City Ave. City Ave kind of had a busy suburbanish feel, but there were a few upscale shopping plazas.

After walking around Hawk Hill and campus for a few minutes, it was game-time. I bought my ticket at the last minute and of course they screwed it up at Will Call. This was my first ever will call error, so I guess that’s not too bad. They couldn’t find my ticket and then sent me to another ticket booth where I got a random ticket that wasn’t even mine. I didn’t care, as long as I got in, though I prefer aisle seats and my original had Seat 3. Over the past year, they completely re-did the facility and added about 1,000 more seats. I must say they did a terrific job. The surrounding concourses are well done with trophy displays and huge murals of players and teams on the walls. Meanwhile, they still kept the seating layout, but just added the seats at the ends of the arena. It is an old-school, tight set up with all of the seating areas flat and facing straight forward. The important thing is that they didn’t seem to lose that loud and intimidating atmosphere. For more review details, check out the review on the right.

It was cool to be able to see the famous Hawk in person and it’s true he/she (this year, I think its a she) does not stop flapping its wings. There were signs all over saying “The Hawk Will Never Die” and though I never heard any great chants except “Let’s Go St Joe’s”, the students were still on winter break. The Hawks really struggled against Fordham and for there standards have had a terrible year as the win brought them to 5-9. Offensively, they just couldn’t get into a rhythm and they let the Rams hit too many threes. Still, they gradually pulled away late in the game.  Everything went well with the visit as I enjoyed a nice time on Hawk Hill and was glad to get to a college basketball barn I have seen over the years. Great job with the renovations and it was an arena I liked. The only other game note was seeing the terrific basketball writer/observer/traveler Kyle Whelliston (Mid-Majority) and Bally there at the game in press row. After the game, right across the street is Larry’s Steaks. I’ve yet to have a Philly Cheesesteak and was glad I stopped their for one. It was an awesome cheesesteak!!!! Skip Pat’s and Geno’s as so many of the online reviews I’ve read describe them as tourist traps (and who would want cheese wiz anyway?) and head to Larry’s.

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