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Official Review by Nathan Deal, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
In the heart of the football-crazed city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is one of the oldest and most prestigious basketball arenas in the SEC. Coleman Coliseum was opened in 1968 and is the home to a University of Alabama basketball program that ranks 31st all-time in the NCAA in wins.
While the Crimson Tide has never won a national title, they have a solid history in basketball despite being in the shadow of their football counterparts at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Coleman Coliseum seats 15,316 people and hosts Alabama Men’s and Women’s Basketball and Alabama Gymnastics.
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".
The concession stands could be closer together, but the food is alright. It’s the typical stadium food. You can get Popcorn ($5.00), a Hot Dog ($4.50), or Nachos ($5.50). A Regular Beverage is $4.50 and a Souvenir Beverage is $6.00. Some distinct snacks include Dreamland BBQ Nachos and Chester’s Tenders. The food is better than the food at most arenas, but the length between concessions stands make this a 3-star category.
Pregame activities were lacking somewhat. Unlike some places I’ve been, when Alabama’s pep band began playing their fight song ("Yea Alabama"), there was very mild applause, even from the students. There are plenty of banners and posters regarding Alabama’s basketball history throughout the arena. The Coliseum’s old design makes the ceiling seem like a hangar, which is a very unique feature of the arena.
The University of Alabama has an absolutely beautiful campus. From the President’s Mansion to Denny Chimes to The Quad to Bryant-Denny Stadium, there is beauty to behold all over campus.
Some great places to grab a bite to eat are Dreamland BBQ, The Houndstooth and Buffalo Phil’s. Dreamland is the most popular restaurant in town and has legendary status among the locals.
Most fans didn’t show up right until tip-off. The student section wasn’t even close to full. As I mentioned earlier, pregame activity was limited and applause for anything was rather mild. The arena did fill in quite nicely, but not close to a sell-out for the Tide’s game against SEC rival Arkansas. In terms of fan support/enthusiasm, Coleman doesn’t hold a candle to Bryant-Denny Stadium, home of Alabama’s football team.
The most popular path to Tuscaloosa is to go through Birmingham, but that route is not recommended for anyone who lives anywhere below Tuscaloosa County. There are many different ways to get to Tuscaloosa.
Parking can be tricky, however. If you can’t park right outside the coliseum, you may have to resort to parking in a nearby neighborhood. A parking deck would be a nice addition here.
The $20 tickets are good enough for watching a college basketball game, but that’s about it. The food is averagely priced, as are the drinks. Many aspects about this trip were "average."
There’s nothing really extraordinary about a trip to Coleman Coliseum that you couldn’t find at any other SEC venue. The arena does have an odd shape, though. Rather than being a "rectangle" like the average basketball arena, Coleman Coliseum seems to make a "square" in terms of seating.
Coleman Coliseum is full of tradition and history, but falls short in terms of providing a good basketball experience. Fan support could have been better, as well. While the experience is good, it also serves as proof that at Alabama, football is king.
Photos courtesy of Rtr10
Member Review by jdmorris on May 20, 2011
Food and Beverage:
Food is above average at Coleman. There are four main concession stands in each corner, and about four smaller ones. The main stands sell the typical gameday meal: hotdogs, popcorn ect. However there is a taste of local fare in the Dreamland Nachos. Though they might sound unappealing at first, they are the absolutely amazing. Also located in Coleman is a Moe's. The menu is much smaller than a regular Moe's but still offers the typical items. Coca Cola products are served at Coleman. Like most NCAA arenas, alcohol is not served.
Alabama's main sport is football, but when they are winning, they consistently sell out Coleman Coliseum. The overall atmosphere is okay, but nothing exceptional.
Coleman Coliseum is located on campus. So, there is nothing within immediate walking distance to do or eat, but Tuscaloosa has numerous places about a mile away. However, located across the street is the Paul W. Bryant Museum which houses trophies won by the football team. If you are a sports fan at all, check it out.
Most of the people who come to the games are students and people from Tuscaloosa, most of the being alumni. There isn't a statewide basketball fan base that regularly comes to the games. In reality, all we really care about is football, but students and alumni come just to support their school.
The Coliseum is located on Paul W. Bryant Drive, which runs directly onto University Boulevard, the main street on campus. There is a huge parking lot located right by the Coliseum, but unless you have a pass (which is for high paying boosters only) you can't park there. You will be directed to the Moody Music Building parking lot, or the soccer fields. Buses run to both locations, but it is a relatively easy walk.
Personally, I wouldn't come from across the country just to visit Coleman Coliseum. But if you're in town and there's a game, it could be a nice outing. However, if you really want to understand UA sports, come to a football game.
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