Most are familiar with Madison Square Garden as being the home of St. John’s Red Storm basketball, however unlike many of their other compatriots in the Big East, the Johnies do have an on-campus home in Queens. This was a straight-forward trip as I didn’t venture around the area and just went straight to the game. Surprisingly, it was very easy to get to the small catholic university. By using I-295 off the Throgs Neck Bridge, Exit 2 onto Union Turnpike made for an easy find and though the Red Storm website is terrible regarding where to park, I found a huge open lot right near the gym. And the best part coming/going….no traffic!
The arena was known as Alumni Hall for quite awhile before it was renamed to honor popular coach Lou Carnesecca. Despite its 53 year age, a recent refurbishment really makes the place look good. The opening entrance way includes several nice displays and a decent segment designated to Louie (it even has one of his sweaters!). Aside from the awkward location of the ticket scanners (they are on the sides, not right after the initial entrance and security screening), this area is a nice introduction. Inside, is an arena with three sections of sideline seating from top to bottom. What I really liked was the clean look which included a form of carpeting on the walkways, re-done ceilings and bright red throughout the building. While the building has a nice aesthic look, comfort level is certainly not optimal as it is quite cramped in the higher sections. I could barely stand and move my legs in to let someone pass by when walking thru an aisle. The tight quarters are especially pronounced near the lone primary concession stand, which is in the middle of a tight hallway.
Most Red Storm games in Carnesecca Arena come in the early season and against non-conference foes. Occasionally, a weeknight conference game is played here, but typically Big East contests are at the Garden. The game I saw was late in the year but against out of league Dartmouth. About two-thirds of the place was full and most of the students weren’t back on campus yet. It was a fine atmosphere, nothing special, but not lacking noise either. It was a little subdued as the Johnies were coming off a 5 game losing streak. After a second half in which the Big Green competed well and stayed within striking distance, St. John’s eventually dominated the second half as the visitors only shot 27%. Interesting sidenote, take a read down the Red Storm roster to find some intriguing names like: God’sgift, Sir’Dominic and JaKarr. With Visit #145 wrapped up, I’ll have a review done hopefully by the weekend and then a Stadium Journey review next week.
Maybe it’s just because my college basketball consciousness began to form in the mid-80s, but I have always rooted for St John’s. I’m go glad they have a home court named Carnesecca Arena. I wish they played all of their home games there…