Georgia Tech has a long and storied history in basketball, as their original gym was named for John Heisman of football fame, who also coached the Yellow Jackets' basketball program while at the school. Tech’s second basketball home was Alexander Memorial Coliseum, which served the school well for more than 55 years. However, in its later years, it developed some structural problems, and also was a detriment to the Yellow Jackets' basketball recruiting efforts in the ultra-competitive ACC conference. So what did Georgia Tech do? As a school noted for engineering and also a great architecture school, they designed the McCamish Pavilion.
The McCamish Pavilion is built on the footprint of the old Alexander Memorial Coliseum site, retaining only the domed ceiling and steel beams of the original structure. (The Alexander name was not completely retired, as the court at the facility retained the name). The Yellow Jackets began play in their new home with the 2012-2013 season. The capacity of the McCamish Pavilion is 8,600, and it features two tiered levels of seats, with 6,935 lower-level seats and 1,665 balcony-level seats.
The facility is state-of-the-art in a number of other ways. It features a lighting system which spotlights the playing court, while dimming the lighting in the seating areas, providing a theatre-like effect focusing on the game. The McCamish Pavilion also has a 360-degree ribbon board encircling the arena and an enhanced scoreboard with HD graphics. The lobby of the facility features graphic presentations of all the retired jerseys of Tech elites, including NBA players Mark Price, John Salley, Tom Hammonds and Matt Harpring. A second display features a salute to the Jackets’ two Final Four teams. The basketball court is named for Bobby Cremins, the longtime coach who led Georgia Tech to its first Final Four, three ACC Championships and 10 NCAA Tournament berths in his 19 years at the school.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
McCamish Pavilion has six concession stands, with four located on the lower concourse and two located on the balcony level. The facility has an open concourse with more than 50 TVs, so you will not miss any game action while getting your food and beverages. In addition to the six generic concession stands, the arena also features a Chick-fil-A, a Twisted Taco, and a Smashburger outlet.
A quick review of the menu and prices you can expect at a Georgia Tech game: hot dogs ($5), sausages ($6), pretzels ($6), popcorn ($4), peanuts ($5), nachos ($5) and eight-inch pizza ($8). Twisted Tacos sell at 2 for $7 and Smashburgers are $8.
All beverages are Coca-Cola products (the World HQ is just three blocks from the arena), and sodas are $4, bottled water is $4 and frozen lemonade is $5. Alcohol is not sold at McCamish Pavilion.
The Georgia Tech basketball arena long ago adopted the moniker of "The Thrillerdome" after the magical first Final Four season, when the team won several games in buzzer-beater fashion. It is a name that has stuck with the McCamish Pavilion. The team has scored upsets over a number of top-ranked teams including Duke, UNC, Virginia and Notre Dame and Syracuse over the years, so the Thrillerdome is always a place that visiting teams dread. The acoustics of the facility are designed to hold in the noise, and the Tech pep band and students do their best to drive up the energy level during an offensive run or a good defensive stand. The dramatic lighting now used at the McCamish Pavilion makes it clear that the action on the court is the star here. It truly feels more like a professional arena than a college arena.
Check out this tour from Brilliance Photography:
There are really three distinct neighborhoods surrounding the McCamish Pavilion. It is located at the very north end of the Georgia Tech campus. Basically, its neighbors in this regard are athletic facilities, including the Byers Tennis Complex, the Georgia Tech football practice facility and Russ Chandler Stadium, home of the Yellow Jacket baseball program.
Across the Downtown Connector is the Midtown neighborhood. The Georgia Tech campus has expanded into this area in recent years, but it is primarily an area filled with trendy restaurants such as South City Kitchen, Ecco, STK Atlanta and Marlow's Tavern. One longtime Tech favorite is the Varsity, the world's largest drive-in. Though not the healthiest food in the world, presidents, world leaders and sports icons have stopped in to enjoy its greasy fare.
The last neighborhood bordering the arena is the West Atlanta / Atlantic Station area. Atlantic Station has transformed a former brownfield site into a very successful mixed-use development filled with parks, apartments, movie theaters and even Atlanta's only IKEA store. Adjoining Atlantic Station is the West Atlanta neighborhood, a former industrial corridor that is very popular with millennials. It includes a number of Atlanta's hottest restaurants, including Miller Union, JCT. Kitchen and Bar, Yeah Burger and the West Egg Café.
Georgia Tech has a very loyal fan base due to its past success in the ACC. The student section is always filled to capacity, and the school enjoys a large local alumni base. The third element to most Georgia Tech home games are basketball junkies that are attracted by the many top-ten programs that visit the McCamish Pavilion during the season, especially when conference play begins. The Georgia Tech band can always get a rise out of the crowd when it plays "I'm a Ramblin Wreck from Georgia Tech," and the Buzz mascot is always ranked as one of the top mascots in the country. Georgia Tech may not exactly be as boisterous as the Cameron Crazies, but hey, did Duke help send a man to the moon like Tech's students did? Tech's fans are loud -- and they are very smart.
McCamish Pavilion is located conveniently right off Interstates I-75/I-85 (also known to locals at the Downtown Connector) as they pass through the center of Atlanta. You would take either the 14th Street or North Avenue exits to reach the arena. The parking directly adjacent to the arena on campus is reserved for major donors and season ticket holders, but there are a number of commercial lots located on the east side of the Downtown Connector within easy walking distance of the McCamish Pavilion. A second, less-costly alternative to getting to a game is the MARTA rapid rail system to the Midtown MARTA station, then walk four short blocks up 10th Street to McCamish Pavilion.
Entry into the McCamish Pavilion is through one of three main portals, with very good flow and adequate ticket takers. Once inside, you will find the concourses to be very wide, so you should not encounter any gridlock. The concessions are built into the sides of the building so they do not cause any congestion. The number of restrooms is more than adequate. You will find the seating at McCamish to be quite comfortable, as it features chairbacks with wider-than-normal space.
Georgia Tech basketball tickets are sold on a variable pricing system. Non-ACC games cost $ 15-$20, ACC games and the rivalry game against the University of Georgia are priced at $28. ACC games sell out quickly, so purchasing your tickets well in advance is advised. Parking close to McCamish runs $10-$15, but by using MARTA to the game, you can bring that cost down to $5 per person round-trip. Concessions at McCamish Pavilion are reasonably priced. You might want to consider purchasing an "all-you-can-eat seat" -- for $30 you get a seat plus three meal items. Atlanta is a convention city, so downtown area hotels can run in excess of $250/per night. It is a good idea to stay in a suburban location hotel and then take MARTA or drive into the game.
The WNBA Atlanta Dream will be playing their 2017-2018 season at McCamish Pavilion while Philips Arena undergoes a multimillion-dollar renovation.
A majority of Atlanta's main tourist attractions are less than three miles from McCamish Pavilion. The following are located in a cluster around Centennial Olympic Park: the College Football Hall of Fame, the World of Coca Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, the Center for Civil and Human Rights and CNN Center. Simply go three stations past the Midtown MARTA station and get off at the Peachtree Center Station, then walk two blocks west
History buffs will be interested to know that the surrender of Atlanta during the Civil War took place on what is now the Georgia Tech campus. This was a pivotal moment in the War Between the States.
Georgia Tech is one of only five bachelor's degree-granting schools in the country to not use the term college or university in its name. Its official name is the Georgia Institute of Technology. Can you name the other four?
Is it mere coincidence that the Atlanta-area team with the most consistently decent record plays its games in the oldest of those teams' arenas? Alexander Memorial Coliseum, home of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets basketball opened in 1956 and shows no signs of shuttering, regardless of how its squads perform.
Call it whatever you like - admirers might choose "The Thrillerdome" due to fond memories of close finishes, while the more cynical might go with "The Big Tit" because of the somewhat suggestive architecture - but the spot is a Dirty South staple. Here have run NBA stars Kenny Anderson, Mark Price, Matt Harpring and Dennis Scott, not to mention the (hopefully) up-and-coming Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal.
There may be no chance for the GT men in the season of this writing (2010-11) and other ACC schools will always look down from their positions on high (Duke, UNC), but there is tradition in basketball at Alexander nonetheless.
The place is a dated, concrete nightmare. It's the ACC so the on-court action and fans make the trip worthwhile but the state of the coliseum takes away from the atmosphere.
The rater is obviously a big east fan! The food options are plenty and they are awesome!! I really am curious as to what side of the bed this rater woke up on during his visit.
Alexander Memorial Coliseum was home for Georgia Tech basketball from 1956-2011. It was called the Thriller Dome because the men’s team would always put on a show, especially when the team was coached by Bobby Cremins.
In 2010, Georgia Tech decided that the arena needed a facelift. A $45 million facelift, to be exact, and in the process the arena would be renamed to Hank McCamish Pavilion in honor of the $15 million donation by the McCamish family. The renovation included reconstruction of the seating bowl, an added upper-level balcony and club seating and an expansion to the club plaza.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams may not be as successful as they were when the arena was called Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Due to the renovations, however, McCamish Pavilion is a great place to take in a college basketball game.
While Georgia Tech isn't the same basketball program as they were 25 years ago when the "Thriller Dome," getting to a game here at McCamish is still a treat. The place is very nice now, upgraded to a good bit, and has a nice college basketball atmosphere. Even when I went to a non-conference game where most Tech fans and the cheerleaders had been to Miami for the Orange Bowl the day before, you still get a good basketball atmosphere. One can only imagine when Duke, Louisville, UNC, and Syracuse come to Atlanta.
FOOD: They must have pulled out the Zaxby's because it was Chick-Fil-A now. Strange because Zaxby's is still one of the sponsors for the Yellow Jackets. That said, the basic menu of dogs, nachos, and popcorn are all there. But at a relatively expensive price (most over $5).
ATMOSPHERE: It isn't a large venue by any means, but that is actually a great thing. The seats were fine as there were no sightline issues, and it just had a unique feel to the place from top to bottom.
NEIGHBORHOOD: You are in a nicer area of Atlanta so you have some better options to eat before the game. The Varsity is a short drive from the campus and is a good spot before or after a game. Of course, you have some nicer sit-down restaurants as well.
FANS: I'm guessing a large portion of the base that go to Tech basketball games were down at the Orange Bowl in Miami for the Yellow Jackets/Mississippi State football game because it was half full at best. That said, the fans that were there were into the game and were pretty friendly.
ACCESS: Won't matter on which way you go on I-75 and fight the great Atlanta traffic in the evening, if you get off on North Avenue, you are right at the arena. That being said, finding a parking spot is not that easy. Anywhere near the arena is a permit only. So you will probably have to park on campus in a parking deck somewhere where it is a nice walk. And bring some money because it went up to $15 for parking.
ROI: Getting tickets to a Tech game that is non-conference is easy to get for the most part unless a power conference school is visiting, then it creeps up a bit. Most non-conference games are $10. The regular conference games, range from $45, which I guess isn't too bad given it is ACC basketball. Food prices are a little high for my liking at a college game, and souvenirs are on par, so overall you get what you paid for, and that is fine.
EXTRAS: The cleanliness, the layout of the place, and the history that is a nice one for Georgia Tech really put this place as a must-see for a college basketball fan.
Hank McCamish Pavilion is the home of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets men’s and women’s basketball teams of the Atlantic Coast Conference. It opened in 2012, replacing Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
McCamish Pavilion holds 8,600 fans. The cost of the renovation of Alexander Memorial Coliseum was $50 million and the venue is now named after Hank McCamish who gave the lead gift for the facility.
Alexander Memorial Coliseum was a great place to watch basketball games, especially when the Yellow Jackets were winning. But McCamish Pavilion has everything a fans needs to have a great experience. From location to food and to return on investment, a college basketball fan will not be disappointed with this state-of-the art facility.
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