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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Recreation Athletic Complex - George Mason Patriots


Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.57

Recreation Athletic Complex 4350 Banister Creek Ct Fairfax, VA 22030

Year Opened: 2009 Capacity: 1,550

 

Volleyball RAC-tion at George Mason

Located on the campus of George Mason University, the Recreation Athletic Complex, more commonly known as the RAC, is the home to the Patriots' volleyball and wrestling teams. The current incarnation of this building was renovated and reopened in 2009, although there has been a facility on this spot long before then. Mason's basketball team also played here until 1985, and has played a couple games here since due to scheduling conflicts at EagleBank Arena including a game in the 2013 CBI and a game in 2016 that was moved up due to an impending snowstorm. However, volleyball and wrestling are the only full-time tenants. In addition to the main gym used for athletic events, the RAC also serves as a student gym and recreation facility.

The Patriots' men's volleyball team competes in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA), a conference that only sponsors men's volleyball. They have appeared in the NCAA Tournament four times, most recently in 2016.

Food & Beverage 1

There is no concession area at George Mason volleyball games. However, there are a few vending machines scattered throughout the RAC that you can purchase from.


Atmosphere 2

The RAC is an intimate arena, seating just 1,550. All seats are uncomfortable plastic risers although they do offer a great view of the court. The music played over the PA system is quite loud and is played between every point, which can make it hard to hear the PA announcer. Much of the energy here is created by the players themselves, although the fans can get involved as well. In any event, there is a lot of shouting in addition to the music, which just adds to the volume level here. However, that is just about all that goes on other than the game itself. There is no mascot, no band, and nothing else like that. This is a very simple facility and a very simple, albeit loud, experience.



Neighborhood 3

Fairfax is a typical suburban area about 25 miles outside Washington, D.C. There is a shopping center across campus which includes several chain places and a movie theatre. If you’re willing to drive a few miles, the 29 Diner in the City of Fairfax is a local favorite, as is Capital Ale House.


While Fairfax doesn’t have the same excitement you’d get in the District, it’s still a nice suburb with plenty to do and places to eat before or after the game.


Fans 2

The Patriots average several hundred fans a game, which is typical for men's volleyball. Many of the fans are friends or family of the players or have some connection to the program. Whatever brings them out, they come decked in the green and gold of George Mason and cheer on their team throughout the match. As mentioned above, much of the noise comes not from the fans but from the players, but the crowd can get into it at times. There will also often be a good number of fans for the visiting team as well, though the Mason fans will outnumber them and this will still feel like a Patriots home game.


Access 4

George Mason's campus is easily accessible via the Capital Beltway (I-495), Interstate 66, US 50/US 29 depending on where you are coming from. Once on campus, free parking is available on gamedays in Lot J across from the arena, despite signs saying it is faculty/staff parking only. From there, you will have to walk up a few flights of steps to get to the entrance. Fans who require handicap parking can park right outside the building, but others will have to use Lot J and walk a little bit.


Once inside, turn left and head down the hall to the arena. The front desk will be happy to direct you, and there will be a table selling tickets as well. There are restrooms in this hallway as well which should be a sufficient size for the volleyball crowd. However, they also serve the rest of the facility, so if the student gym is particularly crowded, this may be a problem.


Return on Investment 2

Tickets are $10 and available for sale in advance or on the day of the game. This is on the high end for men's volleyball, and considering the basic nature of the arena, is not a particularly good deal. However, they certainly won't break the bank either.

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Extras 4

Look for the free programs on the ticket table as you come in.


There are banners in the rafters honoring George Mason volleyball and wrestling accomplishments.


Look for the trophy case in the lobby dedicated to Mason volleyball and the other one for the wrestling team that shares the RAC.


Finally, look for the banner honoring Uvaldo Acosta, a former Mason volleyball player and later a coach, who tragically drowned in Hawaii in 1998 at the age of just 32. He was later inducted into the EIVA Hall of Fame.



Final Thoughts

The Recreation Athletic Complex is a very basic arena and it is hard to believe they once played Division I basketball here. In fact, this is the renovated version - it's supposed to be nicer than when it hosted basketball. In any case, a George Mason volleyball game at the RAC is a pretty basic experience. While it can get loud here, mainly due to the music, the relatively high price point for tickets may make fans reluctant to attend.



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