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Official Review by Brian Jones, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
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.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
One of the things Georgia Tech did was add more concessions all across the Pavilion, so there are never really any long lines.
There is the typical food you will find at a basketball game, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and candy, which will cost about $5-$7. The one thing that puts McCamish over the top is the addition of Zaxby's. They don't have everything a normal Zaxby's restaurant would have, but you can still get chicken fingers and chicken sandwiches. Potato chips are also available instead of fries, and they are better than the fries.
Because McCamish is set up like a bowl, there is not a bad seat in the house. Georgia Tech may not be the team they once were, but the ACC is still a strong conference and when teams like North Carolina, Duke and even Miami come to town, there is a always a strong showing by the Yellow Jacket Nation.
The seats are very comfortable and wide enough to leave space between you and your neighbor. The best place to sit is in the 100 section, because that is where the majority of students sit, and they always make it fun.
McCamish is in the heart of downtown Atlanta, which means there is always something to do when it comes to attractions.
For food, the best place to go to is STATS, which is a few blocks away and right next to Philips Arena. Hudson Grille is right down the street from STATS, and that's never a bad option. If you want to eat something closer to the area, the Varsity is right down the street and has the best fast food in the area.
For leisure, The World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra are a few great options. Also, the College Football Hall of Fame (which opens in fall 2014) is not a bad choice either. All of these locations are minutes away from McCamish.
The Tech fans are not as loud and crazy as they have been in the past, but that has to do with the product that is out on the court game in and game out. There is, however, still a loyal fan base that comes out and supports the Jackets.
There are a lot of families that come out to watch Georgia Tech basketball. With the arena being in the Atlanta area, families have no issues coming out on a weekend afternoon to watch ACC basketball.
There are also the long-time Georgia Tech fans, and there are plenty of them. Because of the history of the program, the older fans are just as passionate as the students. They were around when the Yellow Jackets were winning consistently in the 80s and 90s, and they will continue to support the team through thick and thin.
McCamish is located right off of I-75, and that can be a nightmare for fans who want to attend a weeknight game. If you know your way around the city, back roads are a good thing when traveling to McCamish for weeknight games, but on the weekends, taking I-75 to North Avenue is the way to go.
Parking at McCamish is accessible and it won't cost you an arm and a leg. I park at one of the campus parking decks, and it costs me $10. I only have a ten-minute walk to the arena, and there are signs to help direct you to the arena.
The concourse is big, and there are no issues with finding your seat and getting out of the arena. The restrooms are also very clean, which is always a good thing.
A ticket for a Tech basketball game won't break the bank. The price for one ticket can range from $20-$40, depending on where you buy it. That is not bad, considering you get to watch quality college basketball in Atlanta.
The one thing that could make it better is that the school could have more deals to entice fans who have no ties to the university. The students and alumni will come no matter what, but if they can somehow get the fans that are looking for a basketball team to follow, that would make them the main basketball attraction in the city.
One star goes to the programs. They are free and give a ton of information about the team and the arena.
Another point goes to the flat-screen TVs all over McCamish. That is something you don't see at a major college basketball arena.
The last star goes to the retired jerseys above the arena. The program has a lot of history, and they do a good job paying homage to the past greats.
To reiterate, McCamish is a good place to watch college basketball. The team could be better, but that should not take away from a very good experience.
Member Review by jmccurdy
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.
Member Review by Kristospherein on Jan 31, 2012
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.
Member Review by JB on Oct 22, 2012
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.
Member Review by oldskoolberk on Dec 31, 2014
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.
61 North Avenue Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30308
848 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
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