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Ramsey Center

Cullowhee, NC

Home of the Western Carolina Catamounts

3.1

3.0

Ramsey Center (map it)
92 Catamount Rd
Cullowhee, NC 28723


Western Carolina Catamounts website

Ramsey Center website

Year Opened: 1986

Capacity: 7,826

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Catamount Court

In one of the great basketball-rich states in America, the Western Carolina Catamounts can also be lost in the shuffle. The draw of ACC stalwarts such as Duke, North Carolina, NC State, and Wake Forest are much more likely to attract the national and local media as well as college basketball arena travelers. Even conference rivals like Appalachian State, and especially Davidson will come to mind before the Catamounts when it comes to the basketball program. However, if you are traversing the southern Great Smoky Mountains during basketball season, a trip to WCU’s Ramsey Center can be a solid choice to get your sports fix.

The basketball program has made only one appearance in the NCAA basketball tournament. Back in 1996, the Catamounts took No. 1 Purdue down to the wire, losing by only two points in the Round of 64.

The home of the Catamounts is the Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center. The venue is probably bigger than needed for hosting basketball and volleyball, but the nearly 8,000-capacity size makes it a prime venue for the region’s concerts and other events. The arena’s namesake is Liston B Ramsey, a long time North Carolina state representative.

3.1

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

The Ramsey Center offers large concession stands with fairly basic offerings. The most appealing item on the menu is likely the BBQ sandwich ($4), although it is average at best. Other selections include hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, cotton candy, and boiled peanuts ($3 for any of these items).

Hot beverages such as coffee and cocoa are on hand ($1.50) for those cold mountain nights. Pepsi products will cost you $3, or you can try a slushy or frozen lemonade for the same price.

Atmosphere    3

The Catamounts have a great supporting cast to help them capture a home court arena at the Ramsey Center. The pep band, found behind the basket nearest the visiting team bench, is excellent. During my most recent visit they did a fantastic rendition of the National Anthem. They also serve as an active secondary student section.

Mustard yellow plastic seats form a bowl seating design around the court. The leg room is average, but the seats are comfortable. You will likely find as many as 13 rows tarped off from the top, encouraging fans to pack in to the front.

A center-hung scoreboard is provided to give fans only the basic information they need including score, time, fouls, and period. There is no video capability within the Ramsey Center.

Prior to the game you will subjected to loud and annoying piped in music, featuring primarily repetitive rap music. Luckily, once the game begins the speakers give way to the talented pep band.

Neighborhood    2

Your best bet for a place to eat and drink before or after the game is to make the short drive to Sylva with a stop in to O'Malley's. Here you will find a pretty decent selection of beers and your typical array of bar food. I tried the Catamount Burger and enjoyed talking with the patrons, playing trivia, and staying up to date watching sports on one of the TVs mounted above the bar.

If you are looking for a hotel, I can recommend the Holiday Inn Express in Sylva, which is about a 5-7 minute drive to the Ramsey Center.

Fans    3

I visited during a rivalry match-up against Davidson and the fans seemed to be ready for an upset of the perennial SoCon powerhouse. Unfortunately as the game went against the Catamounts, the crowd would tend to fade away. In the end I saw a five point loss for Western Carolina, but learned that this group is easily thrown off from their support of the basketball squad if the game is not going well.

Access    4

Parking is not an issue at all as there is a large parking lot just across Catamount Road from the Ramsey Center, and that parking is free. Once you park and cross the street, you'll have to ascend the many stairs up to the arena entrance. You'll find yourself in the concourse, which is located at the top of the seating area. If you have a seat near the floor, you'll want to grab any concession items you may desire before climbing down to your seat as the steps back up can be a bit of a deterrent to head back unnecessarily.

Restrooms are large, but could use some technological upgrades to make more of the toliets and sinks automated and encourage hygiene.

Return on Investment    5

Tickets for Catamounts basketball are very affordable with the most expensive seat going for only $10. Teenagers cost $5, and any child under age 13 gets in for free. It's hard to ask for a much better pricing structure than that. The Southern Conference offers a fairly high level of mid-major college basketball, so this is a bargain. When you factor in the free parking and the reasonable concessions, it is unlikely that you'll walk away from a game at Western Carolina thinking you didn't get your dollars' worth. Basketball fans living in the area can get season tickets for only $75. I know I would jump on that offer if I lived within 30 miles or so from the Ramsey Center.

Extras    2

There aren't a whole lot of extras when you see a basketball game at the Ramsey Center. The arena is located in a beautiful part of the country, and the winding drive through the Great Smoky Mountains afford fans with plenty of natural beauty for the eyes.

When the Catamounts hit a three pointer, t-shirts are thrown into the crowd. I really prefer this method of getting promotional items out to spectators rather than waiting for a specific break in the action where the fans cheer at a time that is of no use to the home team. By throwing them out after a successful offensive event, the fans are likely to be louder during a key defensive possession and can thereby influence the home court advantage.

Final Thoughts

The Ramsey Center is probably too large to be the proper home of Western Carolina Catamounts basketball. It is the third largest arena in the Southern Conference, and it just doesn't provide the intimacy that fans hope for with mid-major basketball. It is a nice venue for concerts, and the Western Carolina athletics department does a good job of making the most of the venue. If you are visiting the area, then don't hesitate to check the schedule and go see the Catamounts. If you live in the area, then I hope you will strongly consider purchasing season tickets as they are a great value.

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Crowd Reviews

Ramsey Center

Total Score: 3.00

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

A large mid-major arena in a remote mountain community. The Ramsey Center is essentially the poor man's version of Appalchian State's Holmes Center.

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Local Food & Drink

O'Malley's  (map it!)

83 Asheville Hwy

Sylva, NC 28779

(828) 631-0554

https://www.facebook.com/omalleysofsylva

Local Entertainment

Lodging

Holiday Inn Express Sylva  (map it!)

26 Rufus Robinson Rd

Sylva, NC 28779

(828) 631-1111

http://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/sylva/dsbnc/hoteldetail

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