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Official Review by Brian Jones, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
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.
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".
The food selection at Stegeman is not as varied as you would expect for a school of this size. There are the typical nachos, hot dogs, and pizza. You can even get smoked sausage and boiled peanuts. But the fact there isn't a wide food selection is somewhat disappointing. That said, the prices are very reasonable as no item costs more than $6.
There is enough here to get you through the game if you need something to eat, but there is certainly room for improvement in this facet of the game day experience.
Going to a UGA basketball game can be very exciting, especially if the Bulldogs are playing an SEC opponent. The UGA officials do a good job getting the crowd pumped up for the game with the pre game intros and the music with the band and the DJ.
The best place to sit is in the lower level because you get a better feel for the action, including the energy from the student section the closer you sit to the court.
The biggest thing you'll notice is how small the area is. Looking at it on television, you would think it was a lot bigger. But Georgia basketball (at least for the men's team) does not have the same allure as a football game day. So the arena is the right size in terms of attendance.
The arena is in the heart of campus, which is in the middle of Athens. So there is never a dull moment in one of the best college cities in America.
If you don't want to eat at the concession, I would highly suggest going to the Blind Pig Tavern located just minutes from campus. The food list includes burgers, wings, and Philly cheese steaks. The place is not packed during the basketball season, but it's crazy during the fall on Saturdays.
Make sure you go to Downtown Athens for all the night life. There are plenty of bars to choose from, but a couple of the best bars in the area include Boars Head and Allgood Lounge.
Athens also has a great music scene and the Georgia Theatre is the best place to go to listen to live music. From in-state talent like the Whiskey Gentry to household names like Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, the Georgia Theatre has been a go-to place for many musicians.
There is a loyal fan base for the Bulldogs when they play at Stegeman as they dress up in the shoulder pads and the red and black paint just like in football. But the student section is never completely full and neither are the rest of the sections in the arena.
Part of it is the play of the team itself. While UGA is not a bad basketball program, they are not at the same level as SEC stalwarts like Kentucky and Florida. So the only way you can get a sellout crowd to Athens is when those two schools are playing, or when the Bulldogs are on a tear and have a chance to make it to the Big Dance.
The fans incorporate some football traditions to the basketball area. The best example is when the fourth quarter begins (at the 10 minute mark of the 2nd half), the fans do the Krypton Fanfare where they will have their hands in the air while the band plays the theme song from "Superman."
Getting to basketball games is no different from getting to a football game in Athens. If you live in Atlanta, you have to take Highway 316 and take the Highway 10 loop and get off at the College Station Road exit. From there you can park at the parking deck which is $5-$10 and the arena is a five minute walk.
There are parking lots around campus that you can use, but it's permit only and that will cost you a little more money.
As for checking into Stegeman, it's a breeze because security doesn't pat you down, making getting into the arena a lot faster.
And one of the things that was renovated is the restrooms and they are as clean as any restroom in any arena in the country. And the concourse was also renovated to make it bigger and more up-to-date. The look of the arena may have an older feel to it, but the concourse and restrooms are some of the best in the state.
Getting a ticket for a game is not hard, unless it's for Kentucky or Florida. Normally, a ticket in the upper level will cost about $15 and a ticket in the lower level will cost $30. So it's not going to cost you and arm and a leg to see SEC basketball.
But is it worth the time and travel (for metro Atlanta fans)? I would say yes because while the Bulldogs are not an elite team, they have a solid group of players that are easy to root for. So it would be a smart decision to go see some college basketball in a great college town for a reasonable price.
One point goes to Spike the inflatable bulldog. He is a simple character, but it's always entertaining to watch him wobble across the court.
One point goes to the programs that have great info about Georgia basketball. The program includes bios of players, coaches and the history of the Bulldogs.
And one point goes to the Dance Dawgs who are easy on the eyes during breaks in the game.
Stegeman Coliseum is not the best place to watch a college basketball game, but it is a good experience for anyone who is a fan of Georgia or college basketball in general.
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 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.
233 E Clayton St
Athens, GA 30601
485 Baldwin St
Athens, GA 30605
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