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Official Review by Andy Mantsch, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Conway, South Carolina, is located just an eight-mile drive from Myrtle Beach, making it an ideal college setting for over 10,000 students who attend Coastal Carolina University. A beach resort town full of bars, restaurants and scenery is quite a draw for the area, but so too is the burgeoning athletic program of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. The school has seen massive success in their major sports, most notably their 2016 National Championship in baseball. The hope is that this dedication will play out in all sports, including basketball.
The HTC Center is a prime example of this investment, as the $35 million facility opened its doors in 2012. The 131,000-square foot building holds not only the basketball venue, but a student recreation facility, team store and restaurants. Located near the heart of the beautiful Coastal Carolina campus, this facility is one of the crown jewels of the Sun Belt Conference.
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".
For such a small venue, the HTC Center offers up a wide variety of food and drink options from multiple stands.
Concessions are available all around the court and are filled with affordable and unique options. From wraps to smoothies to wings, there's something for almost all palettes. Pie By Night sells eight different kinds of 12-inch pizzas, all under $8. Boneless wings ($6.99), chicken parmesan sandwiches ($6.49), garlic knots ($3.79) and cheesy breadsticks ($4.95) are just some of the other options here. Desserts such as the Cookie Pie or cinnamon rolls are also available here, to go along with a huge selection of smoothies. At some of the more standard concession stands, you can purchase Chick-fil-A sandwiches, hot dogs, nachos, tacos and candy.
Pepsi products are sold at all concessions with a 22-ounce going for $3.50 and 32-ounce for $4.50. Bottled water can be purchased for $3. No alcohol is sold at the HTC Center.
With all of the options available, it's hard to direct you to any one in particular. But definitely check out the unique options at Pie By Night, instead of going with the more standard menu items.
The beautiful new-ish venue also hosts some passionate fans and fun. There's genuine excitement around the Coastal Carolina athletics program, and that can be felt at the HTC Center.
The striking teal and black colors of Coastal Carolina are all around you and lend to the unique feel inside the arena. The three-point line is completely filled in with color and a giant teal Chanticleer (rooster, if you're not familiar) covers mid-court. The court is anything but bland. Teal seats ring the court with seatbacks on the courtside seating and bleachers on either end. There are suites above the stands, which is uncommon for a program of this size. Video boards on either end of the court replay the action and add to the entertainment factor.
During the game, Chauncey (the Chanticleer mascot) is very active in the stands and fires up the fans. Fun promotions are common here (in this particular occasion, a baby race at halftime) and keep the crowd consistently engaged. Cheerleaders, dance teams and a student section behind one hoop provide even more enthusiasm. While the HTC Center isn't going to rival the big boys of college basketball in atmosphere, it holds its own in the Sun Belt.
There's truly not a bad seat in the house here. General Admission is on the bleachers behind the basket. For a few dollars more, you can choose a seatback seat on either sideline.
Love it or hate it, Myrtle Beach and all its touristy glory is right down the road from Conway, and provides ample options for any traveler.
While there are plenty of local college-style restaurants to check out in the quiet town of Conway, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not staying down the road in Myrtle Beach and enjoying the food options there. Chains, seafood and steakhouses are in abundance there, and finding something to eat won't be the least bit difficult. But if you're up for breakfast or lunch, the local Johnny D's Waffles and Bakery will make you smile with a variety of waffles, pancakes and house-baked bread. For the more late-night crowd, check out Fire & Smoke. This bar and small plate venue offers a variety of specialty drinks and delicious food items.
While it's not a specific venue, most of the things to do in Myrtle Beach will be along the Grand Strand. Mini-golf, Ripley's museums, bars and restaurants line the beach here, and are absolutely worth checking out if you've never been. A little further inland, Broadway at the Beach offers up a unique nightlife scene surrounded by shopping and entertainment venues. The theme in Myrtle Beach is beach party, for sure.
The most obvious options to stay near Coastal Carolina include any one of the many beachside resort hotels. Pick any one and enjoy the area. If you're looking to stay closer to the university and away from the lights and din of Myrtle Beach, there are several options along 501 between Conway and the beach. The Hampton Inn Myrtle Beach West is just a short drive from both the beach and university.
While their football and baseball fan bases may be larger based on recent history, the Chanticleers sport some loyal fans across the board that will make the HTC Center a generally crowded house.
Coastal Carolina averaged over 1,700 in attendance in 2016, meaning the venue is almost always more full than not. Oddly enough, the fans here seem to be more made up of alumni, boosters and locals than rabid students. Coastal Carolina has a great local following, which would explain the inclusion of suites.
That means the crowd isn't particularly loud, but they are knowledgeable and passionate. The seatback areas are generally full while the bleachers and student section may not be. Almost everyone sports teal and black, and you get the feeling that the fans at the games are all regulars. These fans get loud enough when they need to and support their Chanticleers to the end.
Myrtle Beach and Conway in particular have never been the easiest places to get to, and depending on the time of year, Myrtle Beach roads can get crowded.
You'll definitely be driving to Conway for a game, as there really aren't many other transit options available. If you're staying in Myrtle Beach, expect a 15-20 minute drive. This can get a bit variable, depending on the week or weekend and what's going on in town. There are no major interstates that give direct access to Myrtle Beach, so whether traveling north or south on US 17 or east on US 501, you'll have to account for traffic lights and small-town traffic.
Once on campus, you'll find that most of the parking around the HTC Center is reserved for season ticket holders. Parking around campus is free, but you may have to park a little further away and walk, due to the closest lots being reserved. Once at the venue, however, things get considerably easier. Ticket windows are just outside the doors at the main entrance and shouldn't provide any difficulty.
The concourse is easy to navigate. You can't really move around the court once inside, so you'll want to use the concourse to get to your seating area. General admission seating is immediately to your left when you walk in, but you'll want to follow signs for reserved seats. Overall, the stadium is easy to move around.
The beautiful campus and HTC Center itself are what make the visit worthwhile, although pricing falls at about average, if not slightly high.
Ticket prices generally range from $10-$15, depending on where you want to sit. However, prices can rise up to the $20 range for bigger games. You'll want to do your research before attending, if this is a concern. While parking is free, food can be a bit more than comparable venues. This is mostly because of the wide variety of options available. You do still have the option to purchase a cheap hot dog or nachos, but compared to the more extravagant options, you may not be as interested. But it's a beautiful area, a nice campus and a program on the rise. If nothing else, it's worth checking out for a trip to the beach.
Right off the bat, if you're someone that likes merchandise, you should definitely visit the massive team store immediately to your left when you enter. This store is larger and full of more merchandise than your average college basketball venue. As you walk through the halls of the HTC Center, pay attention to the "Chanticleers Legends" recognized all around the concourse. Inside the venue, banners from previous years and star players hang from the ceiling and adorn the walls. The addition of suites for boosters is an incredibly interesting touch for a small-school team, perhaps speaking towards the aspirations of this athletic program.
The HTC Center is a beautiful facility and part of a rapidly growing athletic program. Baseball and football have taken off at Coastal Carolna, and it's only a matter of time before basketball starts seeing similar success. Check it out now in its early stages! And while you're at it, enjoy the beach!
Member Review by brian on Mar 18, 2013
If you've ever been to the popular vacation destination of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the chances are reasonably good you've passed by Coastal Carolina University along the way. The school, which began as a junior college nearly sixty years ago, is a mere twelve miles from Myrtle Beach and the Atlantic Ocean, setting the scene described in its name. Nestled among the palm trees on the 300-plus acre campus is one of the Palmetto State's finest academic and athletic institutions.
The university's previous gym, Kimbel Arena, opened in 1974 and served as host to a number of Coastal Carolina winter sporting events, as well as the 2010 and 2011 Big South Conference basketball tournaments. Though the facility still stands on campus, it has been replaced by the new HTC Center. This $35 million facility opened late in the summer of 2012, and has already been anointed as the home of the Big South basketball tournament through at least 2015. Housing an arena that seats nearly three times as many fans as the previous building, student recreation facilities, a team store and a restaurant, the HTC Center (drawing its name from local Horry Telephone Cooperative) stands near the head of the class in the Big South Conference.
Member Review by ianmccor on Apr 19, 2014
A huge improvement over Kimbel Arena, but falls short compared to newer facilities.
Member Review by cmfleming4267 on Oct 05, 2014
Brand new facility. The atmosphere is great. Food is descent and prices aren't bad. The way the arena is built is also very nice. Also includes a work out area next store with a climbing wall, ping pong, work out equipment, and even an elevated track. Kind of small but still a nice arena. Team is also improving dramatically.
Member Review by cmfleming4267 on Oct 06, 2014
3301 N Kings Hwy
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
4551 US 501
Myrtle Beach, SC 29579