Unfortunately, with the end of the basketball season comes the end of the Leo D. Mahoney Arena … that is, of course, until this upcoming November.
As Alumni Hall was knocked down at the end of my first year, I patiently awaited the year-and-a-half-long renovation process with both excitement and doubts. I had always loved participating in the student section for my high school athletic games as I have a strong affection for school spirit—but once arriving at Fairfield, I was anxious that without a football team or a proper stadium, student pride would cease to exist.
On Nov. 18, 2022, however, I couldn’t have been proved more wrong. I was able to secure student tickets for the Friday night opening game of the Leo D. Mahoney Arena 24 hours prior to tip-off—an accomplishment worth noting as it was sold out within the first half an hour. And, at 6 p.m. the following day, I put on a bright red Fairfield shirt and walked over to the arena where I was given a meal voucher, pom pom’s, a foam finger and a rally towel. Free food and merchandise: what could be better?
With a hotdog in hand, I made my way over to the bleachers and found a spot within a sea of red with my friends and housemates. When it was time for the women’s opening lineup to be listed off, music boomed, lights wandered throughout the crowd and hundreds of fans screamed at the top of their lungs. It was one of the most thrilling experiences as a Stag and I wasn’t even the one on the court.
Ever since then, I made it a point to attend as many home basketball games as possible. I scoured both the men’s and women’s schedules, adjusting my availability around their matches; and after their three-month-long season, I can proudly say that I could’ve been seen jumping up and down in the stands for twelve games (although I only have 50 points on my Super Stags app because I kept forgetting to log my attendance, such a bummer).
But what I find super funny about my love for school spirit and attending Leo D. Mahoney events, is that it actually turned into a love for basketball. When it came time for winter break and I was unable to cheer on my Stag peers in person, I purchased an ESPN+ subscription so that I could watch their games through my computer screen and continued logging on for the rest of their season. #1 Stag basketball fan? Maybe not, but I sure am close.
Nevertheless, the arena quickly became one of my favorite places on campus and I looked forward to every single game. I would come early with my friends so we would secure a meal voucher and watch both teams warm up. We would place bets on whether or not the chosen raffle winner would make the daunting half-court shot. We would scream whenever we appeared on the big screen. It seemed like endless fun.
The only two things that I will be nitpicky about are the ticketing and concessions. There were a handful of times that the fairfield.evenue.net site was incredibly slow and did not show the upcoming games, so I had to personally message an athletics email. And, the concessions somehow only seem to sell burgers with cheese, forgetting that some of us are dairy free! But, I will say that when I reached out to the athletics, I would receive a student ticket within the hour and the hotdogs are pretty dang delicious so I couldn’t complain. Overall, I truly believe Leo D. Mahoney is close to perfection.
I’m already anxiously awaiting the arrival of the 2023-2024 basketball season as I know that I will undoubtedly continue making core college memories within those bright red stands. I highly suggest to any of those who haven’t had the opportunity to go to a game to purchase a ticket for next year’s opening matches so you can see what all the hype is about. Not only will you find that it’s your new favorite weekend activity, but I’m sure you can also spot me chanting “Go Stags” while wearing some pretty cool red pants and a Fairfield tee.