There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Andy Mantsch, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
In a state and conference full of heralded and historic basketball arenas, Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum (aka The Joel) doesn't get much credit. The 26-million dollar venue opened its doors in 1989. More modern and spacious than some of its ACC Tobacco Road counterparts, the Joel holds its own among its more famous competition.
Wake Forest basketball is one of those programs with a strong history that pales in comparison to its conference rivals. In the 90s and early 2000s, Wake Forest basketball was consistently among the upper echelon of college basketball, with stars like Tim Duncan, Rodney Rogers and Randolph Childress, but never made it past the Sweet Sixteen in the Big Dance. Between the 1930s and 1980s the program made the Elite Eight five times with one appearance in the Final Four. Historically on the cusp, the Demon Deacons have seen their success tail off in recent years. The Joel awaits better days from the program, but is still a venue worth a visit.
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".
Concession options are very much just the standard at the Joel. There's nothing below par, but nothing to write home about, either.
Cheesburger baskets, chicken tender baskets and hot dog baskets go for $7-$8. Hot dogs ($5), Domino's pizza ($6), barbecue sandwiches ($6) and barbecue trays ($7.50) are also on the menu at various stands. All of it is suitable; none of it is much of a surprise.
Pepsi products are available in souvenir ($6) and regular ($4) options. Souvenir options allow for $2 refills. Bottled water ($4), Gatorade ($4) and coffee/hot cocoa ($2) are also available.
The barbecue options from Red, Hot and Blue are probably your most interesting options. Utz potato chips are also sold here, so grab a bag of those, for sure.
Open and spacious, the Joel is a comfortable and enjoyable place to catch a game. What it lacks in the uniqueness of more famous venues, it does make up for to some degree with its modern charms.
While there's nothing about the venue that stands out as particularly memorable, the size and comfort makes for a more relaxed college basketball experience. Essentially a large, relatively unassuming structure, there's nothing that particularly stands out about the building itself. Even inside it's a very typical stadium layout. Black padded seats with cupholders ring two decks above the court. That court is part of the charm, with its parquet flooring with the large WF and Demon Deacon at center court. It's one of the more recognizable TV venues in college basketball. In the rafters, there are banners upon banners representing Demon Deacon greats and deep runs into the ACC and NCAA tournament.
One of the coolest parts of the experience is when the lights go down and the Demon Deacon mascot accompanies the team to the court atop his motorcycle, revving it the entire way. The pep band is consistently blaring music, and the mascot engages the crowd consistently. This sets the stage for what should be a spectacular experience, but the in-game theatrics actually become fairly forgettable. There are cheerleaders and a dance team that entertain the fans, but the PA announcer is surprisingly not excitable, even when the action picks up.
Choose seats in the lower bowl, if possible. Sight lines to the court are great from everywhere, but the banners block the views of the scoreboard all the way around the upper deck.
Winston-Salem is a fairly large city, as is neighboring Greensboro, but for the size of the area, there isn't that much to do. Located just to the north of downtown Winston-Salem, you will find some solid local options.
The most local spot to eat is across the street in Wake Forest's BB&T Stadium. The Grille at Deacon Tower is an exclusive Wake Forest staple where reservations should be made in advance. Check the hours, because they are only open at specialized times. For a more casual experience that's still worth the trip, Foothills Brewpub is located a short drive away in downtown Winston-Salem. Good food and excellent beers are readily available there.
If you're in the area for a day or a weekend, check out Old Salem south of town. It's like taking a step back in time over 200 years. There are some other attractions in Winston-Salem, notably SciWorks and the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, but nothing that will likely blow you away.
Right down the street from the stadium are a couple hotels worth staying at. The Courtyard Marriott Winston-Salem University is within walking distance. Across the street is the Clarion, and it's a slightly cheaper option. If you're not looking to stay that close, there are plenty of hotels to choose from in the great Winston-Salem area.
Known for great fans historically, the population at LJVM has been shrinking at home games over the last few years. Still, the fans that are there are loyal and passionate.
A Demon Deacons game still draws between 5,000 and 10,000 fans, but that's down from the 90s and early 2000s heyday of the Joel. Still, Winston-Salem is in the heart of basketball country, and a winning season or two would quickly pack the stands again.
Despite the declining number of fans, those in attendance are still among the more passionate in college basketball. The student section is famous for its tie-dyed shirts and consistent noise (they are called the Screamin' Demons), although this too has waned a bit in recent years. Around the stadium, however, the hardcore fans still show up and still bring passion and volume when the Deacons need it.
The stadium itself is easy to get to and around, and won't present any real obstacles to access.
There's not a lot of public transit in Winston-Salem, but parking is abundant and easy. The PTI airport serving Greensboro and Winston-Salem is about 30 minutes east on I-40 for anyone flying in, and the stadium itself is just a couple minutes off of I-40. Getting around the area is generally pretty easy.
Parking costs $7 and the lot is massive and just outside the stadium. Traffic flows pretty easily in and out with police presence facilitating. Overall, it couldn't be much easier.
There are gates located all around the stadium that lead into the circular concourse. No specific gate entry is needed, so it's pretty easy to get in.
Once inside the stadium, it's easy to navigate the circular concourse. One could picture that in the 90s, these concourses would have been packed with fans, but today they are easy to navigate, with minimal traffic. Restrooms are large enough for far more fans than are in attendance and are pretty average looking overall.
Perhaps someday the Joel will feel like the Joel of the Tim Duncan days, but for now, the experience is just a shadow of what it once was.
Official ticket prices range from the $25-$35 range for upper deck and $45 and up for the lower deck. These prices are a bit on the high side, particularly for a team that's struggled as of late. Parking is relatively reasonable at $7, and food pricing isn't unreasonable. Fortunately, you can find tickets on reseller sites for far less than face value.
While the stadium itself is nice enough, there certainly aren't a lot of frills. The multiple banners featuring some great names and team exploits hanging from the rafters certainly warrant some recognition. The recognizable court and ACC competition that occurs on it are more than noteworthy themselves. And the history of the Screamin' Demons and all of their pep band and tie-dyed glory are recognizable, as well.
The Joel definitely holds potential to deliver much higher level game day experiences someday. For the Demon Deacons' sake, hopefully these days return. But in the meantime, it's a solid venue in which to watch some quality ACC basketball.
Member Review by Martin
Long known as a basketball school for its affiliation as a member of the Big Four, Wake Forest's deep history started when the school was located in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
The team is now a far cry from a small gym outside of Raleigh. The Demon Deacons play their home games in Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum, just minutes from downtown Winston-Salem, and across the street from beautiful BB&T Field.
Although "the Joel" is in need of some renovations, it is still a great place to watch a basketball game. It has elements of a professional arena, but holds true to the small university feel that Wake has instilled in everything from the campus to athletics.
Member Review by paul on Jan 22, 2013
The Joel. It’s one of those arenas that is unremarkable, but very comfortable – a perfect place to see ACC basketball. While less renowned than some of its conference counterparts, a night at the Joel will prove to be a great night of college basketball, especially if the struggling Demon Deacons can keep the game close.
Named for Lawrence Joel, an Army medic who won the Medal of Honor after his service in the Vietnam War. The arena seats 14,665 comfortable for Wake Forest Demon Deacon men’s and women’s basketball games. The Coliseum is located across the street from Wake Forest’s BB&T Stadium, home of the football program.
Like much of the basketball played on Tobacco Road, you can expect to find fans who love the game of basketball and who are engaged throughout the contest. If you are in or near Winston-Salem on the night of a Wake Forest basketball game, then do yourself the favor of going to see a game.
Member Review by ianmccor on Apr 18, 2014
A bit similar to South Carolina's Colonial Life Arena. Similar size, similar crowd, similar low standing in their respective conferences. A bit better atmosphere here, but also more expensive.
638 W 4th St
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
3111 University Pkwy
Winston-Salem, NC 27105