Kennesaw State University is the third-largest school in the Georgia University System, with nearly 25,000 students. It offers more than 90 graduate and undergraduate degree programs. It is well known for both its Executive MBA program and its International Studies curriculum. KSU also has the largest nursing school program in the state. The school was founded in 1963 as a commuter school for residents of the then-rural Cobb County. It has evolved into an academic dynamo, competing with such storied schools as Emory University, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia.
The KSU Convocation Center hosts both the basketball and volleyball programs, and as the name implies, is the site of university and area high school graduation ceremonies several times a year. The Center was built in 2005 and seats 4,792 in its basketball seating configuration. Designed to serve multiple purposes, the facility also hosts cheer events, tennis exhibitions, concerts and job fairs. Amongst the luminaries who have performed or competed in the Convocation Center are Elton John, Martina Navratilova, Anna Kournikova, Pete Sampras and Andy Roddick.
The KSU basketball team was the first sports team organized at the university, and has had great success over the last 50 years. The Owls are members of the Atlantic Sun Conference, which includes USC Upstate, Stetson University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University and Northern Kentucky University. It is a very competitive conference with many of these teams often being the Cinderella team in the NCAA tournament.
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There is one large concession stand servicing the Convocation Center. Lines can get long during halftime, and there are no vendors circulating the stands. It has a very limited menu, consisting of hot dogs, nachos and pretzels (all $4.00), popcorn ($2.50), and bottled sodas or water ($3.00). You may want to head to one of the nearby restaurants shown in the Neighborhood section to fill up before coming to the game.
A majority of the KSU student body is from the metro Atlanta area, and has grown up with the university in their backyard. Despite its somewhat clunky name, the Convocation Center is a very modern facility with excellent lighting, great graphics, a good seating layout and first-class amenities. The facility definitely shows that this school is a real competitor, both in academics and in athletics. No bench seating here -- there's theatre seating, no matter where you sit around the court. The Owls have a stunning Daktronics video wall that is competitive with many NBA arenas. You can't help but enjoy yourself in this facility.
KSU is located approximately 16 miles north of Atlanta, just off I-75. The Convocation Center is located on the campus green next to Kennesaw Hall, the administration building. Kennesaw State University is the fastest-growing university within the Georgia University System, and a majority of the campus buildings are less than 20 years old. Its architecture is much more contemporary than most college campuses, as a result. The neighborhood surrounding the campus is filled with facilities designed to meet the needs of KSU's growing student population. Chastain Road, the gateway to the KSU campus, has a variety of hotels located just across the expressway from the campus that make it very convenient for fans needing overnight accommodations. These hotels include the Kennesaw franchises for Comfort Inn, Best Western and Fairfield Inn. A wide variety of dining choices exists, with Taco Mac, Marlow's Tavern and California Dreaming being the favorites among KSU fans. Town Center Mall, a 200-store regional mall, is located one exit south of the campus on I-75.
KSU is located in Cobb County, a hotbed for high school sports such as football, basketball and soccer. Cobb schools often bring home the state championships in these activities. As a result, KSU fans are wildly supportive of the university's athletic programs. The administration is equally supportive, and has built numerous sports facilities, including Fifth Third Bank Stadium; home of the Owls' brand new football program, in recent years. However the basketball Owls have been the "Big Bird" on campus for many years, and have a great history of success. The students really get into the games, with a unique habit of "hooting" just as an opposition player is shooting a free throw. KSU often notches victories over in-state rivals Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia, so the fans are not intimidated by big conference teams.
The Convocation Center is easy to reach, as it located in the center of the campus. There is ample parking for visitors, as a majority of the students walk to games from their dorms. The campus itself is located directly off the Chastain Road exit of I-75. KSU is also served by an excellent public transportation system (Cobb Community Transit, or CCT for short) which conveniently has a stop just one building over from the Convocation Center.
Tickets are $10, the parking is free, and the concessions are limited, but are fairly priced. The product on the floor is good, and the opposition is often competitive in the NCAA tournament each March. Before or after the game, good food and reasonable accommodations are readily available within a few blocks of the arena.
Nearby Kennesaw Mountain is omnipresent, as it towers over the campus. The university features it in its official logo and merchandise. The mountain played a major role in the Battle of Atlanta during the Civil War, and is now a National Battlefield Historic Park. In addition to its historical importance, the park is hugely popular for its 18 miles of hiking and jogging trails. The village of Kennesaw is also famous as the site of the Great Locomotive Chase, where a group of Yankee spies hijacked a rebel train in an attempt to disrupt the Confederate supply lines. The actual locomotives from the chase are located in a museum located across from the Kennesaw railroad depot. The museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute, and is located less than two miles from the campus.
There's plenty that Stadium Journey has given me, including an opportunity to practice my art of writing, new friendships with excellent professionals, and the chance see some killer games like a double-OT thriller between the Kennesaw State Owls and South Carolina State Bulldogs - but more on that will come below.
Just as significantly, though, it's given me a greater appreciation for the state in which I've grown and lived the entirety of my life. A few weeks ago, there I was, believing I was content with Georgia's solid mix of natural wonder, suburban sprawl and city life, but unaware of the gem that is KSU and the terrific Convocation Center that comes with.
While new to Division 1 and in the Atlantic Sun Conference, Kennesaw State has a very small, yet impressive venue. The place does not really stand out on campus, but it is clean and has a nice warming feel to the place. It also has a very good basketball atmosphere, which is good given that the Atlanta area is now becoming a hotbed for basketball and the Owls could sometime stand to benefit from it. It is just not right now.
FOOD: Very limited. Pretzels, nachos, hot dogs, and popcorn. That is pretty much it. It isn't too bad in quality though, but nothing different from high school venues or even middle school venues.
ATMOSPHERE: Despite having struggles since joining D1, the place still has a nice basketball atmosphere.
NEIGHBORHOOD: You are at the heart of campus. You have the main courtyard with the student center and bookstore pretty much next to the venue as well as the baseball/softball facilities as well. Right now it is under construction when I went. If you want a bite afterward, you have plenty of options as Kennesaw is an area where the place is still growing. My take is go to the Big Pie in the Sky, a pizza parlor with massive sized pizzas. It is definitely worth the visit.
FANS: Kennesaw State got blown out by SC Upstate when I went, but that did not stop the college students to make noise and still get behind the Owls. Nor did it stop the older fans from being supportive and cheering on the Owls. They weren't overly friendly though.
ACCESS: Get off of I-75 in Kennesaw and you are pretty much there. Go down to the campus by the fields (which is easy to do) and there you can park for free by the Center. Can't really do better than that.
ROI: Everything is pretty easy on the wallet as no food is more than $4 and prices on souvenirs are very reasonable ($15 for most shirts and caps) Seats anywhere are $10 and you are pretty much next to the action. It is worth the trip, even if Kennesaw State is not one of the better teams around.
EXTRAS: Just for the fact that this place is a nice, state-of-the-art venue and you have a very good atmosphere to go with it. One added thing I should mention is the scoreboard. The scoreboard is one of the best scoreboards around as it is crisp as possible and you can keep track with up-to-date stats. I can't imagine what this place would be like the minute the Owls get competitive.
620 Chastain Rd NW
Kennesaw, GA 30144
745 Chastain Rd NW
Kennesaw, GA 30144
777 Town Park Ln
Kennesaw, GA 30144
745 Chastain Rd NW
Kennesaw, GA 30144
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