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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
When we speak in terms of Athens and the Classic City, we tend to think of ancient Greece. While the Stegeman Coliseum at the University of Georgia is not quite that vintage, it is one of the oldest basketball arenas in the Southeastern Conference, as it opened in 1964. During the succeeding years, it has gone through a series of renovations, with the most dramatic changes coming in 2010-2011. This renovation literally “opened up” the sides of the facility to provide a brand new look for passers-by. A massive set of windows was installed, along with a pair of dramatic murals depicting UGA sports and landmarks around the university campus.
The 10,523-seat coliseum also went through extensive interior changes. These include a concourse renovation, widened halls for better traffic flow and the addition of numerous graphics about the history of Georgia basketball and salutes to many of the Bulldogs' elite players through those years. It has brightened up the interior of the building considerably, as it features the red, black, silver and white colors of the university.
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".
Stegeman Coliseum has four major concession stands, each standing on one of the four corners of the building. These stands were also refurbished and enlarged during the 2010-2011 renovations, allowing for multiple lines for quicker order taking and delivery of food. Each concession site offers an identical menu, which includes the following items: chicken sandwiches ($4), hot dogs ($4), hamburgers/cheeseburgers ($6), fries ($3), pretzels ($4), popcorn ($5), boiled peanuts ($4), Dippin' Dots ($5) and candy ($2). On the beverage menu are Coca-Cola brand sodas ($4) and bottled water ($3). No alcoholic beverages are allowed for sale on university property.
As you pass through the University of Georgia campus, it will be very apparent that it is a big-time football school. There are statues of legendary football coach Vince Dooley, the 90,000-seat Sanford Stadium and the brand new indoor practice facility. Advertising and spirit wear are predominantly football related.
This does not mean that the basketball program is not something to be proud of. The roundball program at the University of Georgia has produced 10 years of NCAA Tournament participation (including a trip to the Final Four in 1983), 13 NIT Tournament appearances and a .700 home winning percentage since the Stegeman Coliseum opened in 1964. UGA also boasts of two College Basketball Hall of Fame members in Coach Hugh Durham and the "human highlight film," Dominique Wilkins.
You will soak in this basketball heritage the minute you step inside the Stegeman Coliseum. The concourses are filled with all the trophies and honors the basketball team has earned over the years, displays covering the achievements of stars from both the men's and women's basketball programs and a timeline featuring the history of the arena as it has gone through various renovations.
The Stegeman Coliseum is an on-campus facility within UGA's Vince Dooley Athletic Complex. Its neighbors in this complex include the Foley Field baseball complex, the Dan Magill Tennis Complex and the Spec Towns track and field facility. Since the basketball arena is on campus, there are no restaurants or bars within walking distance. However, the University of Georgia's Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel is across the street from the coliseum. It offers rates below any chain, and you receive free parking within a block of the game.
In a larger sense, the city of Athens definitely fits the definition of "neighbor," as the campus and the town is separated only by Broad Street. Athens has received a number of plaudits for being a great town and gown city. It has been ranked second in the country as a College Sports Town by Rolling Stone, tops for its Hot College Music Scene by Sports Illustrated and fourth in USA Today's rating of College Sports Towns. In addition, it has long been known for its role as a music hub, as groups such as the B-52's, REM and Widespread Panic all got their starts in the Classic City. Two places you will definitely want to check out for up and coming music are the 40 Watt Club and the Georgia Theatre. Foodies will want to check out the Blind Pig Tavern, the Last Resort Grille, the Trapeze Pub and the Varsity, an Athens landmark for more than 80 years. For an adult beverage, the place to go is Athens' own Terrapin Brewing Company.
Hotels in the immediate vicinity of the university include the Downtown Holiday Inn, the Best Western Colonial Inn and Hotel Indigo.
University of Georgia fans are typical of a majority of the SEC school fan bases -- they are loud and proud. (UGA even has organized cheers for their tennis program!) Though not as rabid as the football breed of Dawg, the basketball fans at Stegeman Coliseum will intimidate visiting teams just as much. They proudly wear the red and black colors of the school, scream "Go Dawgs" or "How "Bout Them Dawgs" on practically every basket and know all the words to "Glory, Glory to Old Georgia." Even the coliseum itself contributes to the level of noise generated by the fans, as its architectural design serves to amplify sound. The red and black color scheme of the inner arena also helps to build team spirit.
It is a team effort in every sense of the word when it comes to firing up the crowd. The team does it with their play on the court. In the stands they are helped by the cheerleading squad, Hairy Dawg, the Dancing Dawgs and the 75-member UGA Basketball Pep Band. Even if the general attendance for a particular game is low, you can still count on the student section to be packed. They line up hours before the arena opens to ensure they get a seat.
Finding your way to an arena on the largest campus in the state can sometimes be a daunting task, so there are some basic pointers to getting there. From Atlanta, the best way to reach Athens is via Highway 316 (otherwise known as University Parkway) from I-85. It is about a 70-mile drive from downtown Atlanta. As you reach the outskirts of Athens, you will see a road marked Athens Bypass. Turn right onto the Athens Bypass and stay on it until you reach College Station Road. Exit onto College Station and turn left. Almost immediately after exiting, you will see the University Welcome Center on your right. Pick up a campus map 24 hours a day from the outside information rack. Stegeman Coliseum is only a mile from the Welcome Center, but you will still want to have this map to guide you through the massive campus. As you pass the arena on Carlton Road, you will reach a red light at Sanford Road. You will turn right at this light and park in the South Campus parking deck.
Once in the coliseum, you will find its concourses to be wide and easy to navigate. The seating sections are alphabetical as they round the horseshoe-shaped arena. A majority of the seating area is below the concourse level. The seats are wide and offer cup holders. There are sufficient restroom facilities and concession stands to handle a typical crowd for a Georgia home game.
A trip to see the Bulldogs play is very affordable. All tickets in the arena are $15. The parking is free in the designated visitor lots surrounding the building. The concessions are of good quality and come in large portions for a very reasonable price. Lodging in Athens is not expensive, except during football weekends, graduation ceremonies and move-in/move-out weekends.
In addition to the basketball program, Stegeman Coliseum is home to the 10-time NCAA women's champion Gymdogs gymnastic team.
During the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Stegeman Coliseum hosted rhythmic gymnastics and some of the early rounds of the volleyball competition.
An architectural point of interest is that the coliseum consists of two separate structures, the roof and the building below it. The roof is connected by an aluminum set of bellows that allows the roof to rise and fall as the temperatures inside the building change.
Member Review by jmccurdy
Its grey concrete exterior I ran by every day - literally, every day for three years - but after visiting the inside once, never could I shake my mental image of the University of Georgia's Stegeman Coliseum. That's not to be taken as pure praise, however; by reading this review, you'll come to understand just what I think of the arena I called "home" during my college career.
The outside may appear odd with gently sloping "ramps" on the four corners (and spiked fences to prevent mischievous fans from climbing on the roof), but there is no confusion to the inside of the building. This is the Bulldogs' building; the seats are overwhelming red and the "G"s are large and omnipresent.
For a spot that opened in 1964 (as the Georgia Coliseum), it's remarkably modern, clean and inviting. Unfortunately, on several levels it also feeds into the generic feeling that goes with UGA men's basketball.
Member Review by Brian L Jones on Mar 06, 2014
The University of Georgia will always be known for its football team and Sanford Stadium. But we can’t forget the school has basketball and Stegeman Coliseum is one of the older basketball arenas in the SEC.
Looking at the exterior of Stegeman, you would think the arena was just built. But when you walk inside and see the basketball court, you can tell that the stadium has had its share of wear and tear.
That doesn’t mean the arena is in bad shape, just that there’s no doubt that the arena looks like the era in which it was built (the 1960s).
Stegeman has gone through its share of renovations and the arena finished a major expansion project in 2010 where the concourse was completely overhauled.
While Sanford Stadium is the place to be in the fall on Saturdays, going to Stegeman in January and February is quite the experience as well, especially when the team is winning.
Member Review by BillVol on Apr 04, 2014
I first saw a game here in 1983, during the season UGA went to the Final Four. It was empty for the last game of that season, before the Dawgs went on their miraculous run to the Final Four. At that time, it was still officially an agricultural facility, with livestock pooping outside the facility. It also had a stage on one baseline, just like my old high school still has. But this isn't a high school. They have renovated this place many times since then. Georgia fans hate the place, although it's actually a good place to watch a game now. I wish food and beverage could be taken out of the ranking formula, because if that is an issue, you are not really a fan.
Member Review by ianmccor on Apr 18, 2014
An interesting older venue for SEC basketball. A good enough place to visit for what it is.
Member Review by alee1227 on Dec 01, 2015
Love the location of the stadium. The building itself is beautiful. The atmosphere just wasn't there. An empty student section the most likely culprit. Should be noted I went to a non-conference game during Thanksgiving week. Good selection of food and merchandise is available.
Member Review by Brian L Jones on Feb 22, 2016
Stegeman Coliseum is the home of the Georgia Bulldogs men’s and women’s basketball teams of the Southeastern Conference. It has been the home of the Bulldogs since 1964.
When the arena first opened, it was called the Georgia Coliseum. The arena was then renamed to Stegeman Coliseum in 1996 in honor of Herman James Stegeman, who was a pioneer of college basketball in the South in the 1920s.
Stegeman does not get the recognition like some of the top college basketball arenas in the country, but it’s a place that has good fans, easy access and it’s located in a very good area.
233 E Clayton St
Athens, GA 30601
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Athens, GA 30605
256 E Clayton St
Athens, GA 30601
500 College Ave
Athens, GA 30301