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Charles E Smith Center

Washington, DC

Home of the George Washington Colonials



Charles E Smith Center (map it)
600 22nd St NW
Washington, DC 20052

George Washington Colonials website

Charles E Smith Center website

Year Opened: 1975

Capacity: 5,000

There are no tickets available at this time.


Local Information


The Foggy Bottom Boys

George Washington University is a private university that was originally chartered by an Act of Congress on February 9, 1821, as the Columbian College in the District of Columbia. The school changed its name in 1904 to obviously honor the first President of the United States of America. It is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia, even larger than its nearby neighbor Georgetown University.

GW, as the university likes to be referred to, has majors in many fields. Politics, Business and Engineering are popular majors. The list of alumni here is pretty impressive, with Harry Reid, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover among them. Actors Casey Affleck and Alec Baldwin both attended here, while actress Kerry Washington, actor Scott Wolf, and Food Network icon Ina Garten (“The Barefoot Contessa”) obtained GW degrees.

The university is located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, DC. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in DC. The unique name came about because of atmospheric occurrences of fog that often came about here. The GW campus covers most of the area, with the southern “border” being the Department of State buildings that are near the National Mall. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Watergate Complex lie to the west. Foggy Bottom is served by the Foggy Bottom – GWU Washington Metro station, on the Blue, Orange and Silver Lines.

The Charles E. Smith Center opened in 1975 and is also home to the GW Colonials' gymnastics and volleyball teams, as well as the World TeamTennis Washington Kastles. It is a 5,000-seat, multi-purpose venue and also has been home to concerts, comedy shows and convocations.

The building was named for Charles E. Smith, who was a university trustee and spent a great deal of effort getting the building built. A $43 million update and expansion of the Smith Center started in February 2008, with more funding from the Smith family. New team locker rooms, The Colonial's Club dining area and new scoreboards are just some of the changes that occurred.


What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    2

The food situation here at the Smith Center is a bit strange. You need to go down to the basement of the venue to visit the small main concession stands. It is an extremely awkward placement. Hot dogs, pizza slices and nachos are all available for $4, while sides of popcorn, pretzels and candy will run you $3 a piece. Fountain sodas are available for $3 (24-ounce) and $4 (32-ounce).

There is a smaller, snack-only concession stand right of the main level, within view of the court action. If you need a quick drink or candy bar, that is pretty much all you will get there.

The prices are good, but just note how difficult it may be to get to the concession stand you want. The venue's halls can get very tight if there is any size of crowd.

Atmosphere    5

There are a few crowded entranceways into the venue. Since this is a city arena, space is limited, so don't expect wide, sweeping concourses. This is a small, crowded place.

There is plenty of lighting and windows to the outside keeping the venue looking bright and airy.

The seating is on all four sides of the court, although the bulk of the seating is on the two sidelines. On one sideline, the student section of GW nearly covers it completely. That student section fills pretty well and can be quite loud.

The GW pep band sits within the student section and creates a pretty lively environment.

It is funny that a school named for the first president has a mascot. And no surprise but it is a large George Washington. I couldn't figure out if the name on his back was to remind you of his name or the university's.

There are the obligatory cheerleaders, as well as a good dance squad called the First Ladies.

There is a very nice, relatively new scoreboard above the court. But I did find the end scoreboards poorly placed for viewing. If the main scoreboard is showing an animation, it may be nearly impossible to find out the time and score.

All in all, the small, crowded environment can make for a pretty loud and interesting venue.

Neighborhood    5

The neighborhood is great. Although George Washington University takes up the bulk of the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, there are still plenty of restaurants to choose from. Burger Tap & Shake (2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW), Tonic at Quigley's (2036 G St NW), Founding Farmers (1924 Pennsylvania Ave NW) and the newly opened Beefsteak by Jose Andres (800 22nd St NW) seem like good options. There are also plenty of casual options, such as Sweet Greens and and Pita Pit in the area.

Georgetown is a pretty short walk away. The options there will astound you, but Billy Martin's Tavern (1264 Wisconsin Ave NW) and Georgetown Cupcake (3301 M St NW) will also treat one right.

A few of my favorites away from the GW/Foggy Bottom are Smith Commons (1245 H Street, NE in the Atlas Arts District), Doi Moi (1800 14th St NW in Logan Circle) and Bar Charley (1825 18th St NW near Dupont Circle). A good suggestion is to stop by Bar Charley for some great craft cocktails and walk the few blocks over to Doi Moi to finish up with some great Asian small plates.

And did I mention you are right in the middle of Washington, DC? The amount of attractions, museums, restaurants and other sights are astounding. Spend some time pre or postgame seeing the many things around this great city.

Fans    3

The student section can get pretty loud. They seem to enjoy the games and creating a fun scene.

I did note that there was a huge amount of visiting teams fans that made their presence known. I would have liked to see more GW fans in attendance, outside of the students, as a way of keeping so many visitors out. This did tend to knock down the Smith Center ranking a bit, as you should not hear chants much from groups of visiting fans.

Access    3

This is DC, so parking is never the best idea. There will be lots around in the area and at various prices. But the best option is to try and not drive in this madness and instead take the subway system, known as the Metro.

The Metro is frustratingly overpriced compared to systems in other city. But it really does get you to nearly all parts of the city. Just be careful on weekends when trains run less often, as you may encounter some extended wait times. The Foggy Bottom Station is only a few blocks north of the Smith Center.

You will also spend quite a bit of time walking around DC. It is large and spread out. So bring some good walking shoes.

The National Mall and all its attractions are just a few blocks south so try and stop by pre or postgame.

Inside the venue, expect to have little elbow room as you venture around. They jam a lot into a tight space here at the Smith Center. Also note that the bathrooms are located down in the basement near the concession stands and will fill quickly.

Return on Investment    4

Tickets may vary depending on the opponent, but generally range from $14 to $25. That is a pretty good value, as the Atlantic 10 has some very good basketball programs.

You will need to factor in parking or Metro costs. Those can get pretty high. But the value is still pretty good for the level of basketball on display.

Extras    3

There is a very nice GW Hall of Fame right in the southeast corner. An interactive display assists you at exploring the Colonials athletic history.

There is a nicely filled trophy case in the basement, near the concession stands.

Also, make sure to take a look at the plaque dedicated to Red Auerbach, as he is a 1941 graduate of GW.

Final Thoughts

The Charles E Smith Center may not get much attention due to other competing venues getting more attention. But it offers a loud and engaging experience for basketball fans in the nation's capital.

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Crowd Reviews

A Beacon In Foggy Bottom

Total Score: 3.57

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

The Charles E. Smith Center is a hub of activity on the campus of George Washington University. Not only is it home to the Colonials basketball teams, you can also catch volleyball and gymnastics at the recently renovated arena. Sports aren’t the only thing happening at the Smith Center, as it has been home to concerts, comedy shows and convocations and is a source of pride for current and past students of the private university located in the heart of Washington, D.C.

The Smith Center originally opened in 1975 and underwent a $43 million renovation starting in 2008. The result was a sleek, modern building that should be the envy of other local programs. The Colonials play in the Atlantic 10 Conference and are only one of two schools (Massachusetts being the other) that have been continuous members since the inception of the conference in 1976. GW owns two conference tournament championships, the last coming in 2007.


Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 2

Its a nice little stadium and is the best basketball atmosphere in DC except for Georgetown, which is overpriced. The endzone seats are only ten bucks and, although they are slightly obstructed, are right on top of the action.

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Local Food & Drink

Tonic  (map it!)

2036 G St NW

Washington, DC 20036

(202) 296-0211


Burger Tap & Shake  (map it!)

2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC 20037

(202) 587-6258


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