Francis S Levien Gymnasium – Columbia Lions
Photos by Jon Hart, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Francis S. Levien Gymnasium 2960 Broadway New York, NY 10027
Year Opened: 1974
The Lion’s Den
Columbia, President Obama’s alma mater, plays their home games at the modest, 2,700 seat Francis S. Levien Gymnasium. Located in Morningside Heights, a twenty-minute subway jaunt from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, Levien only offers good seats and better seats. Warning: Most of the seats don’t have seat backs. Columbia, which won the CollegeInsider.com post-season tournament in 2016, plays in the ultra-competitive Ivy League, which is on the cusp on becoming a two-bid conference. It’s solid, competitive mid-major college hoops in a small place.
Food & Beverage 3
Columbia has upgraded its selections. In addition to candy, chips and soda, there are personal pizzas, Subway wraps and grilled hot dogs. Pizza is the most popular. The surrounding neighborhood offers an array of excellent food choices.
Columbia games draw. Students turn out and sit in the designated student section, which is across from the team’s benches. Alums, either Columbia or from the opposing team, also make up much of the crowd. The recently reinstated Columbia band, the best worst college band, is back again playing. However, they’re more restrained. Columbia has a large dance and cheerleading squad. They keep it simple and low to the floor.
A stroll around Columbia’s well-lit surrounding streets is a must. There’s no shortage of excellent dining options. Here are just a few, but there are plenty more. Shake Shack, which is great for burgers, shakes and other treats, is right across the street. A few blocks downtown, pizza spot Koronet has humongous slices. A bit more downtown, Sal and Carmine’s, has smaller slices but awesome crust. For Seinfeld fans, Tom’s Restaurant is close. A local’s guide to area restaurants can be found here.
The fans turn out for the Lions. Arrive early if you don’t want to wait in line for tickets on game day. The student section has the potential to get rowdy and creative but nothing too crazy.
Drivers should be able to get a free space on the street with not too much effort. There’s also overpriced parking lots in the neighborhood. If you’re coming via public transportation, the #1 subway stop at 116th Street is mere yards from courtside.
Return on Investment 4
Columbia’s magnificent campus is a sight to behold. For a wonderful stroll, Central Park, arguably the best park in the world, is not far. Again, there are a lot of great eating venues in the area. Worth noting: Current Columbia coach Jim Engles has a history of pulling off upsets. In 2014, his NJIT squad upset Michigan in Ann Arbor. If you’re in NYC, and you’re into hoops, Levien Gymnasium should be added to your itinerary.
Jon Hart is @ManVersusBall