Home Court Advantage is a recurring series that focuses on the court, environment and playing conditions on men's and women's volleyball courts around the country. In this, the second post of the series, we will be focusing on the McMaster Marauders’ Burridge Gym.
The men’s and women’s teams for McMaster University play at the Burridge Gymnasium. It is located on the main campus of McMaster, toward the north east corner. McMaster is in Hamilton, specifically at 1280 Main St. W. It’s a short distance from the Main St. exits off Highway 403 (for those coming from east of Hamilton, it’s the QEW, which eventually becomes the 403).
The facilities in Hamilton are some of the best in Ontario, if not Canada. The way into the gymnasium is somewhat odd, and many people find themselves wondering if they’ve walked down the right hall. However, once you are in the right place, you know it. When game ready, the court has a perfect decline of semi-permanent bleachers that go an ideal distance up to the court. The ceilings are ridiculously high, and the lighting is proper.
McMaster’s playing surface changes depending on the event. They use the standard lines painted on the court, which show other sports’ boundaries as well. But for bigger events, they bring out the sport-court. That means a temporary floor that is made specifically for volleyball. The floor goes together like a puzzle, and doesn’t even have lines on it. After precisely measuring the distances, lines are made with white tape. It takes extra time to set up, and tear down, but the difference is important for international-level matches. The visual is a nice bonus.
As suggested, the Burridge Gym attracts a lot of attention from a variety of events due to its strengths. While both McMaster varsity volleyball and basketball teams call it home, it has also hosted high school OFSAA finals, the CIS Volleyball Championships twice in the last five years, and international FIVB-sanctioned matches for our National Indoor Teams.
The events are always handled professionally in Hamilton. Before the season, the McMaster website reads that volleyball tickets are simply “coming soon”. However, you can buy tickets online or at any events themselves. There are always plenty of cameras from different angles, and at times even different teams depending on the local media covering each given event. There is also a DJ constantly, if you like that kind of thing. It does keep energy up, I concede. Generally, you can stream video from events live online. Tickets are never expensive, though, so check out some volleyball live.
As said, the seating inside the Burridge Gym is semi-permanent. The bleachers can roll back far enough to allow for basketball games, or certain miscellaneous events, but can roll right up close to the volleyball-sized court. Since the seats simply decline downward, with no angles, there are no seats with bad views. The chairs aren’t incredibly comfortable, and in many places there are simply benches with no back support, but this isn’t the opera. One day, volleyball will demand audiences that demand the Air Canada Centre. But for now, the full occupancy is large enough for any international volleyball event.
For students of McMaster, the Burridge Gymnasium is literally their campus gymnasium. They can go to varsity games, and get a work out in the same trip. But for members of the public, the venue lacks luxury items beyond the field of play. The options of food are terrible and understaffed. At least Overkill generally shows up to the better events, which means a full tent of volleyball memorabilia, apparel, and some energy.
The facilities in Hamilton are capable of being world-class. There is space for vendors, the camera crew has locations made with them in mind, and the audio equipment gives any level of event credibility. The players can always know they have the highest level of sports facility when they are playing at the Burridge Gym. Just, bring a comfy seat for yourself. And maybe a snack.