January 6, 2007
Jadwin Gymnasium (Capacity: 6,854)
Princeton Tigers vs Rice Owls
Final Score: 51 – 28
* The stadium was re-visited for a game on December 16, 2022
When I was a kid, Princeton basketball intrigued me and I always found myself rooting for the Tigers. Maybe it’s the 1996 win in the NCAA tournament vs UCLA, typifying the whole underdog nature of March Madness. It could also be watching Pete Carril’s style of play, which I greatly admired. Regardless, it was great to have a chance to see the Tigers up close. The historic university is located in the borough of Princeton, NJ and the small, upscale community in Central Jersey is a wonderful place to live and visit as the residential area gives way to a great central road (Nassau Street) with mostly local businesses. On the other side of Nassau is the University, which takes up about half the town. Princeton gives off an aura of prestige and many great minds have studied at the school that has produced over 30 Nobel Prize winners. I mentioned a little about the basketball history above and you can include 25 NCAA Tournament appearances and 30 Ivy League Titles on their impressive resume. Jadwin Gym has been Princeton’s home since 1969 and the unique looking arena fails to live up to the school’s basketball standard.
Prestige Ranking: 2.5 out of 5
Nassau Street is within a long walking distance to the arena and the college town’s main road is worth exploring. Local shops and a ton of great trendy eateries line the street, especially in the Palmer Square section. After spending time in town, you can walk through campus, which features many beautiful, gothic-style buildings, some of which date back to the 1800s. The oldest building, Nassau Hall, was completed in 1756. Aside from the Art Museum, there’s not much to do, but again the walk in itself is quite enjoyable.
Location Ranking: 7.5 out of 10
Accessibility / Parking
Getting to Princeton can take awhile as it is not near any major highways, though nearby Route 1 acts like one. Things often get congested on Saturdays both in town and around campus. The area is often congested and I don’t think there’s a time that I’ve driven to the area and there has not been daytime or evening slowdowns. Jadwin Gym is on the far southern part of campus and parking is little bit east of the arena. Thankfully, a new large garage opened by my 2022 visit and that seems to have alleviated parking issues as the previous lot was not enough. There is mass transit to Princeton as NJ Transit trains on the Northeast Corridor line make a stop about four miles south of town. From there, a local shuttle train (known as the Dinky) brings commuters on campus.
Accessibility / Parking Ranking: 6.5 out of 8
Three interlocking shells make up much of Jadwin’s look and these white shells are most noticeable when walking up from the side. It almost has the appearance of an amphitheater, or even the roofing at Rogers Centre in Toronto. The front shell slopes the most, however when arriving straight on from the front, it’s hard to notice this funky design. That front entrance is made up of brick and huge ground-to-glass windows.
Exterior Ranking: 6 out of 10
The opening atrium is spacious and bright as a recent refurbish added sleek designs and school colors. Coming out here at halftime to get out of your seat is good for most games, but the space is certainly not made for thousands. There is a mish-mash of ‘stuff’ in this atrium as you’ll find displays, a team store out in the open, a concession stand and a front desk like you are entering a Rec Center. A team store sits out in the open next to the lone concession stand. That stand gets very crowded at the half, as does the lone bathroom off to the side, which is quite small. Amazing that is the only facility. Inside the gym, there is floor space to get to each side of seating and there is also an open area with tables and chairs if you want to sit and eat.
Concourse Ranking: 2.5 out of 5
The small amount of food offerings are transported since there is no nearby kitchen, so expect your food to be sitting in a warmer if you grab something to eat. It is a basic list of offerings and the Burgers / Chicken Sandwiches / Hot Dogs are all bland.
Food Ranking: 1.5 out of 8
Jadwin Gym is basically an indoor track facility with a basketball court and thus, not a great place to watch a game. The vast amounts of empty space beyond the seating in the track area is strange and it certainly makes the ‘arena’ cavernous. The roof structure is at least unique, if not hypnotic to stare at as the inner workings of the concrete shells are a dominating view. Many lights on that roof make for a very bright building. A concrete balcony holds most of the seating and these are well away from the court. At least the orange and black individual chairs are wide with generally enough space between rows. Sightlines are poor not just because of the distance, but also because row height isn’t great and someone in front of you can get in the way of the view. Also, sitting in the first few rows will feature a glass partition that can obstruct a little. There is a 300 section of wooden bleachers behind the main seating, but these are almost never used. Near the court, four sides feature pullout stands. The ends are bleachers and the sides are black, plastic chairs. These stands are flimsy to walk on and again, sightlines aren’t great, but at least they are closer.
Interior Ranking: 5.5 out of 14
Above center-court, my 2022 visit featured excellent video from the scoreboard and I was really impressed by the screen. It played the game feed and during commercial breaks, zany graphics weren’t overused as we mostly saw some goofy contests. I like the “Princeton” and “Tigers” at the top, but am not that big of a fan of the disjointed design between the screens. Score and stat layout was decent.
Scoreboard Ranking: 3.5 out of 4
Outside the entrance along the walkway is a life-size statue of Bill Bradley, known for not only his basketball accolades, but also what he did off the court. Just like at Princeton Stadium, there is a Tiger sculpture, but this one is in the lobby and more of a traditional design. Also nearby is Dick Kazmaier’s Heisman Trophy, an unexpected pleasant surprise. In fact, a lot of this area displays things from other sports including trophies wall displays with pictures of past champions. That would be nice and fine if they also had a section designated for Basketball history, which they didn’t. At least banners above the court were plentiful as I counted 25 orange and black banners, most of them containing Ivy Titles and NCAA appearances for both the Men’s and Women’s teams. There’s also a banner for the retired #42 (Bradley), former coach Pete Carril and the 500 overall championships that Princeton has won in the Ivy.
Displays Ranking: 4.5 out of 6
Parking was free and my 2006 visit featured $12 tickets. Only a small increase was in place by 2022 as a seat went for $16 (though it was $20 if you bought at the door). Concession prices were reasonable.
Cost Ranking: 7.5 out of 8
Princeton is usually in 2nd place for the Ivy League attendance standings, but the overall numbers aren’t great as crowds are typically between 1,000 and 2,000 people. Both games I’ve attended were against admirable non-conference opponents (Rice and Delaware) and the house barely reached 1,000. Even when recent bigger names have come in, like BYU and Arizona State, it didn’t bring that much more (only Penn does that). It is an older crowd overall and there is some basketball savviness there based on some of the comments. There are also too many armchair referees with orange and black glasses on.
Fan Support Ranking: 3.5 out of 8
Students were just arriving back from their short winter break at our first game and though not many ventured over, the band was there in their famous straw hats. The rest of the crowd was not too enthusiastic as the Tigers played their first home game in three weeks. There were some extended applauses during big Princeton runs, but the building didn’t really buzz or get loud. My second go-round featured a generally quiet crowd. They were itching for the team to get back into the game and when they cut the deficit to single digits, a few stood. A couple plays toward the end garnered some noise, but nothing crazy and it certainly wasn’t boisterous in the final minute.
Atmosphere Ranking: 5.5 out of 14
The full name of Princeton’s arena is the L. Stockwell Jadwin Gymnasium. The “L” is for Leander and his mother donated the money to the arena in honor of her son, captain of the track team who tragically passed away shortly after graduation….Along with indoor track, the building also hosts volleyball. Part of Jadwin’s additional versatility is somewhat hidden, as rooms below the main arena are used for fencing, wrestling and racquetball…..Pete Carril retired in 1996 and Princeton has seen it’s offensive system transition to a more up-tempo and standard style…..The weather was 71 degrees at tipoff for our game in 2007 and we arrived at the gym in a t-shirt, which is crazy for a January day in New Jersey…..The Penn-Princeton rivalry is tops in college basketball and the series goes back to 1903. It has all the makings of a great rivalry with geography, fan passion and success. It is always the last Ivy game of the year and it usually has significant importance.
Game (Initial Visit)
Princeton totally dominated this game as Rice was completely confused on offense. The entire team only managed to score 28 points and the Tigers held the leading scorer in the country, Morris Almond, to 9 points. He came in averaging 31.4 PPG. Princeton’s offense was very efficient and when they weren’t able to score, nine offensive rebounds helped keep the possession going. Luke Owings scored 13 for the Tigers.