The University of North Texas Coliseum is where the Mean Green men's and women's basketball teams play, but the arena is more commonly known as the Super Pit. The nickname arose because the previous, smaller, gym was known as the Snake Pit (since it would flood on occasion and snakes would be found as the water cleared). Even now, the larger signs outside advertise the Super Pit, while the official name is still visible on much smaller signage.
The Coliseum opened in 1973 on the UNT campus in Denton, about 30 minutes north of Dallas, and seems to be largely unchanged since then, with one major exception. The seats were originally orange, but in recent years funds were raised that allowed dark green seats to be installed throughout the arena so that they match the team colors. It works perfectly and as you can see in the photo gallery, the seats make a great complement to the colors on the floor.
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".
Concessions are basic with hot dogs ($3) and popcorn ($2 for a small, $3 for a large) seemingly the most popular options. Frito pies are $3 but my favorite is the pickle for a $1. Yep, just a big, whole pickle for a single dollar. I had never seen this offered at a sporting event before, and it is definitely better than the usual food that stadium journeyers might find increasingly boring.
Beverages include sodas, bottled water and Gatorade. As is usual in campus facilities, no alcohol is available.
Concession stands are huge with several employees ready to help and you shouldn't have to wait to get your order, unless perhaps there is a very large crowd on hand.
The band starts performing about an hour before game time and keeps it up during the game which really adds to the atmosphere. They also hassle the visiting team on a constant basis which is a must at a college game.
There are cheerleaders who dance with pom poms as well as a pep squad that tries to lead the crowd in chants. This might be interesting with a full house, but with perhaps 20% of seats filled during my most recent visit, it was mostly for show. Still those fans did make a lot of noise and combined with the enthusiasm of the band and cheerleaders, kept the Super Pit hopping as best as could be expected.
Denton has a population of 115,000 and is no sleepy bedroom community. It might be most famous as the town where I-35 splits into I-35E that goes through Dallas and I-35W that splits Fort Worth, both about 30 miles away, but it offers much more than that, particularly off-campus.
There are a few attractions that are off the beaten path, with the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum and the Bayless-Selby House two of the more popular ones.
The Golden Triangle Mall is 3 miles south and your best shopping spot in the area.
There were maybe 2,000 fans for the game I attended which was somewhat disappointing as I had heard good things about the Super Pit crowd. It shouldn't be surprising though as the team has had a rough season and is leaving the Sun Belt Conference this year. With new competition in Conference-USA starting in the 2013-14 season, I hope that fans will return in numbers and bring the Super Pit back to prominence.
The Super Pit is right off of I-35E and quite easy to get too. Actually, I had stayed in Denton and was able to avoid the highway while accessing the campus, but there have been reports of traffic jams on the approach during rush hour, so keep that in mind if you are attending a popular game.
Parking is free in a large lot just across North Texas Boulevard. It did take a couple of minutes to get out as there is only one exit point from the lot but that is a quibble.
The concourse is very wide and has a number of displays commemorating the history of North Texas sports. You can also walk through all the sections in the seating bowl without being asked by ushers for a ticket. With such a small crowd there were no problems at all in getting around the venue or using the facilities.
Tickets are either $12 for sideline or $7 for baseline seats, a bargain for this classic stadium. With parking being free and food and drinks quite inexpensive, the Mean Green experience should be on the list of things to see for any stadium chaser as it is hard to find better value for money, especially in the DFW Metroplex which has dozens of sports teams at all levels.
The only other thing to note is that there is no main scoreboard above the floor but scoreboards at both ends of the court as well as some hustle stats boards at the corners.
Did you know Mean Joe Greene was a Mean Green? Turns out that it is not a coincidence. The school nickname was adopted in 1966 as the North Texas football defense finished second in the nation against the rush. Greene was a sophomore that year and part of that defense. When he joined the Steelers in 1969, fans there thought that "Mean Green" was his nickname while at North Texas and it stuck. Of course, the university also kept the name and to this day the two are intertwined. Mean Joe is one of many inductees into the UNT Hall of Fame which takes up a considerable portion of one wall along the concourse and should be given more than a cursory glance.
Speaking of history, there are a number of banners hanging inside the arena which provide some background into the program. College teams change conferences quite often and there are banners from two previous conferences to which UNT belonged.
There is a trophy case with silverware on display including Sun Belt Tournament Championships from 2007and 2010.
A few photos of campus scenes dot one wall and are worth a look.
There is also a plaque to commemorate those who assisted in the fundraising to make the green seats a reality.
Finally a point for keeping the arena essentially unchanged for 40 years. I cannot adequately express how cool this place is.
I love to visit old stadiums that maintain their history and allow me to step back in time; I can easily imagine what it was like to watch a game here in the mid-70s. The Super Pit is a great old venue, simple in its design and offering a complete college basketball experience. I have heard that the fans there can be loud and proud, but for the game I saw, there weren't enough of them and that ultimately hurts our FANFARE score, but it should not dissuade you from making a trip to see the Mean Green and their basketball machine.
The Super Pit earned its nickname because of the way the court is nestled into the building; all the way down at the bottom with the court surrounded by seats above it. Also, the nickname came about for another reason; because of its proximity to the "Snake Pit," which is the former gymnasium. The gym would sometimes flood and snakes would be found in the gym as the water drained out.
The Super Pit was built in 1973 and with a capacity of just over 10,000 fans, it was designed to make the other team feel like they were being trampled by the fans.
Denton is located about 25 miles due north of downtown Dallas and is a quick and easy drive. The campus definitely feels like a small town. There isn't a lot of landscaping, just a whole lot of buildings. With a population, of only 119,454 Denton is a great place for a large university.
I love this building. Despite its large size, it still manages to get pretty loud in there. The Pit Crew is fun and the basketball is excellent. Go Mean Green.
110 W Hickory St
Denton, TX 76201
317 W Mulberry St
Denton, TX 76201
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