It’s been three years since my first and only visit to West Point as I saw football at Michie Stadium. This time on my return visit last Sunday to see the basketball arena, I wanted to spend a little time in the area as the wife and I checked out the Visitors Center and also did a one-hour tour despite the cold. All of it is well worth it and I highly recommend stopping in the tiny village of Highland Falls located just before West Point to get a full appreciation of the United States Military Academy. There are no visitors on the grounds, so the tour is the only way to check out the campus. After lunch at Schade’s Restaurant in town, we passed through the checkpoint and parked near Christl Arena for some Army hoops. The arena is much like many of the other unassuming buildings on campus with its concrete, gray appearance. The arena is actually a part of the Holleder Center, which also houses Tate Rink for hockey. Probably the best part of the building is walking the concourse and checking out the myriad of pictures, plaques and various honors that grace the walls. Inside reminded me of a smaller version of the RAC at Rutgers. Simply two sections of seating on the sidelines that steeply go straight back. Half are chairbacks and the other half are bleachers.
A very quiet atmosphere greeted us inside as the Cadets were heading home as exams just finished. Despite, the absence of those on campus, a season high of 537 was the announced attendance. Needless to say, it seems to be an empty and mainly calm gym with one exception…the Navy game, which sells out and is a great atmosphere. I would say the arena is quiet, but the acoustics are great in that it retains a lot of noise with the low ceiling and tight end walls. The sounds of players, sneakers and the PA actually kept volume at a normal level, despite the lack of fans. Those that were there got to see a rare Army win! They played Texas Pan-American and were in control much of the game thanks to Ella Ellis and his 25 points. But with 4:50 left, he fouled out and the Knights would not score again. A 12 point lead dwindled to two and Army missed a shot with :10 left. UTPA then drove down and Brandon Provost shot a three. Given how 2011 has gone for the home team in games I’ve attended, I disappointingly thought for sure it was in. Luckily it missed and the Black Knights hung on. They are now 4-7 as they get ready for the Patriot League to begin soon. After 26 years and not a single winning season, I’m hoping and rooting for them to put something together one of these years.
Overall, a great little stop on this continuing journey…a good arena, decent game and a tour to keep things all in prospective as we admire, respect and appreciate the individuals that go through the Academy. Check out the full review of Christl Arena here. Also, I’ll be doing a full review over at Stadium Journey to be posted in a few weeks. Everyone have a very Happy Holiday season!