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Official Review by Brian Jones, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Pete Mathews Coliseum is the home of Jacksonville State basketball of the Ohio Valley Conference. It’s a 3,500-seat multipurpose arena that opened in 1974.
In 2015, the arena went through some major renovations, including a new floor and new seats to make more of a home-court advantage for the Gamecocks.
This is not the ideal Division I college basketball arena. It’s small, there are not too many food options and the atmosphere is not up to par. But the recent renovations give Pete Mathews Coliseum a much-needed boost.
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".
Because of the size of the arena, there is only one concession stand to choose from, and it doesn't offer too many options.
The foods to choose from are hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, candy, and chips. Not enough to fill you up, but the good news is the prices are favorable, as they range from $1.50-$3.50.
Because it's a college campus, no alcohol is sold. And as for sodas, Pete Mathews Coliseum provides Pepsi products.
It's hard to recommend something on the concession stand, because there is really nothing on the menu that stands out.
Despite the new floor and new seats, the atmosphere for a game at Pete Mathews Coliseum could be a lot better.
The arena is set up more like a high school basketball arena than a Division I arena, in terms of size. In its defense, Jacksonville State is not a huge university (around 9,000 students), so to have a 3,500-seat arena is fair.
The seats are wide, and the scoreboard hanging above the floor is a nice touch. The thing with the scoreboard is that there are no video screens, so there are no pregame videos or ability to watch in-game action.
The few good things about the atmosphere are the PA announcer and the band. The announcer has a good delivery, and the band is entertaining, as they play a wide variety of music.
As for the best place to sit, because of the size of the arena, any seat you have gives you an opportunity to see all the action. But I would prefer to sit up top, because you can see everything, and it is more spacious than sitting up close.
Here's the thing with Jacksonville, Alabama. It's a small town, and the closest big city is Birmingham, which is about an hour away. But that does not mean there is nothing to do.
For food, there are a number of fast-food places. But the one place that is recommended is Jefferson's, which is located a few blocks from campus. Jefferson's originated in Jacksonville back in 1991, and it serves wings, burgers and oysters.
For attractions, the best thing to do is visit Cheaha State Park. The Jacksonville area is surrounded by mountains, and if you go to Cheaha State Park, you can visit Mt. Cheaha, which is the highest peak in Alabama.
Another place to go to is Talledega Superspeedway. It's 20 minutes from Jacksonville, and it's one of the most popular speedways on the NASCAR circuit.
The best hotel in which to stay is the Hampton Inn. It's located a mile from JSU, and it offers a heated outdoor pool, an exercise room and free breakfast buffet.
The JSU basketball fans are not going to be on ESPN anytime soon.
But that's not the fault of the fans, because ever since the Gamecocks joined Division I in 1995, they have tallied a total of four winning seasons.
The fact of the matter is the team has given little for fans to cheer about. And when a school has a football team that is the polar opposite in terms of winning, it's hard for fans to get motivated about the basketball team or even go to the games, despite the more than reasonable prices.
Jacksonville State is located just a few miles away from Interstate 20. So it's easy to get to the arena from major cities such as Birmingham and Atlanta. There is limited public transportation, so the best way to get to Pete Mathews Coliseum is to drive.
It's not bad to drive, because parking is free and there are plenty of parking spaces. That has a lot to do with not too many fans attending, but regardless, parking is very accessible.
There is only one gate to enter the arena and there is no security check-in. Once inside, the concourse is very spacious, so access to and from your seat is not an issue. And there are a fair amount of restrooms that are clean.
Tickets for a JSU basketball game are cheap, as it will cost you no more than $8. There is not a lot of food to choose from, but the prices are no more than $4 for an item. And there is no cost for parking, which is not a real surprise, considering the prices for food and tickets.
So overall, you get your money's worth when it comes to going to a game at Pete Mathews Coliseum. You don't get a lot when you come to the arena, but you are not paying a lot for the experience either.
When purchasing a ticket, you get a coupon for the fast food restaurant Jack's. It's one of the more popular restaurant chains in Alabama, and it's very good food.
There is a trophy display of the different awards JSU has won over the years. The Gamecocks have had a ton of success in athletics, especially at football, as they reached the Division I FCS National Championship game in 2015.
When it comes to the overall experience of Pete Mathews Coliseum, it's not a bucket-list place. They have made improvements to the arena with new floor and the new seats, but there is more work that needs to be done in order to make it a place to watch a Division I basketball game.
Member Review by BamaBob on Feb 25, 2013
In the remoteness of east-central Alabama, almost equidistant between Birmingham and Atlanta, sits Jacksonville State University, home of the Gamecocks. In a state dominated by SEC football, JSU is one of nine schools in the state offering Division I basketball. Mention JSU and most likely one of two thoughts comes to mind: "Didn’t their football team beat Ole Miss in 2010?" (yes) or "Didn’t their football team have a female placekicker?" (also yes).
Prior to 1993, the Gamecocks basketball team were members of Division II’s Gulf South Conference, and enjoyed their fair share of success (6 conference titles, 8 NCAA appearances, 5 Elite 8 and 2 Final Fours), including the D2 national championship in 1985. Since 2003, JSU has been a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, and are seeking their first conference title and post-season appearance (NCAA or NIT) since leaving Division II. The Gamecocks have never had a player drafted by the NBA although one, Walker Russell, made 28 appearances with the Detroit Pistons in 2012.
JSU plays their home games in Pete Mathews Coliseum, a 5,500-seat gymnasium located on the corner of the campus. The arena’s namesake is a former state legislator who also was a member of the university’s Board of Trustees.
Member Review by oldskoolberk on Jan 30, 2016
For the 2015-16 basketball season, Pete Mathews Coliseum was renovated so the pictures on here are not what it really looks like at this point anymore. The place looks a little more up to date, but nothing overly major. The key things that really got upgraded were the ceiling panels/tiles are now gone, and it has a "rafter-style" ceiling (black). There are more backs to seats along the sides and the benches are plastic, but with random colors of red, light gray, and dark gray. The lighting is more down to the court and substantial as well and there is a new floor, which is pretty neat. However, that said, the place still looks old and non-descript. It looks like a large, obsolete, high school gym on the outside and it really doesn't feel too welcoming despite the improvements. More are in order to make this a good place for a good college basketball experience.
POSITIVES: Parking is free and no hassle to get in or out, you are close to the action anywhere, the announcer is energetic, but the pep band is excellent and produces the majority of the sound of the place. Prices for whatever food they do have are inexpensive as most don't hit past $3.50 (nachos and hot dogs are the big spenders). And the area with local foods such as Momma Goldberg's and Struts Wings are excellent. You really can't go wrong with this neighborhood and it is very nice as well. The employees were pretty friendly too.
NEGATIVES: Little in standardized fare, though if you had VIP seating, there were more. But there was no signature item. The pizza and Chick-Fil-A are long gone. And forget any souvenir items there are none. Best to check Wal-Mart in Jacksonville. Fans were ho-hum, but then again they did lose badly without their star and the Gamecocks have been awful for a while. There weren't many students there either. The restrooms were dirty and the faucets wouldn't turn too well for you. And the exterior as mentioned before was bleh.
500 Forney Ave NW
Jacksonville, AL 36265
501 Pelham Rd N
Jacksonville, AL 36265
208 Mountain St
Jacksonville, AL 36265
8464 Alabama Hwy 204
Jacksonville, AL 36265
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