Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center (map it)
1200 W Broad St
Richmond, VA 23284
Year Opened: 1999
There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Sean Rowland, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
VCU has become a household name in the landscape of college basketball over the last decade and its ascension to the forefront of the sport has been impressive. The school is relatively young as the merger of two colleges in 1968 led to the creation of Virginia Commonwealth University. As VCU experienced rapid growth, its basketball program followed and in 1999, the team left the city-owned Richmond Coliseum for a new arena on campus, named the Stuart C. Siegel Center. The Rams haven’t had a losing season since and while in the CAA, they annually competed for conference crowns and made NCAA tournament appearances. The culmination was the remarkable run to the 2011 Final Four, led by former coach, Shaka Smart. VCU has since moved to the Atlantic 10 Conference, reuniting them with former Colonial foes, Richmond and George Mason. In the Siegel Center, the Rams have an intimate home that provides a tremendous home court advantage. The fans and their famous pep band (The Peppas) have created a remarkable college basketball atmosphere. It is not a stretch to state that a VCU home basketball game offers the true sports fan one of the best experiences in the United States.
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The food is standard arena fare at the Siegel Center as there are several concession stands offering what you would typically expect at a sporting event. Included are items like Cheeseburgers ($6.50), Pizza slices ($3.50) and Chicken Tenders with French Fries ($7.50). What is now common at pretty much every venue are variations of hot dogs and that is the case here with six different versions, each for $4. The best option in the facility is at the Fast Break Café, which is somewhat tucked away around the corner from the main entrance. Large sandwiches are offered and they are not skimpy on the Ham or Turkey, so this is a good option if one is looking to fill up. Plenty of Pepsi products are available for beverages and with this being an on-campus facility, there is no alcohol served.
The Siegel Center is a multi-purpose facility that from the outside is not all that impressive or exciting, especially for a relatively recent design. The low-rise, brick building changes on the inside as a nice, vibrant hall acts as the concourse with school colors, logos and displays on the walls. Heading further inside, the arena set-up is intimate and conducive for plenty of noise. There are four sides of seating and most of it is of the chair-back variety, though there are some bleachers in less desired sections. That is one of a few downsides to the arena as seats on the far sidelines extend well beyond the basket and the vision to the court is not great. The other issue is that each stand pulls out and folds in (meaning this is more of a gym than an arena), thus the slope of each row is shallow and seats further back are not as good as what you would see from a true mid-sized arena. Some of the arena highlights include recent new additions as the center video board is beautiful and the Club Seats hanging just below the ceiling is a great premium option.
What really makes attending a VCU game special is the amazing atmosphere. It all starts with the school's pep band, The Peppas. Simply put, they are one of the best in the country and that's hard to argue given that they have their own CD and have been asked to play at other colleges. During the pre-game, The Peppas jam out various tunes in entertaining fashion as no piped-in recorded music is needed during warmups. Once the game gets going, the crowd joins in for popular pieces like the "War Song" and VCU's variation of "Rock and Roll Part 2." In between the band playing, VCU fans make the Siegel Center rock as it turns into a very loud and fun place.
The city of Richmond is the fourth largest in Virginia and in addition to being the State's Capital, it is also a city full of historical significance. The Civil War era was particularly important in the city's history as Richmond was Capital of the Confederacy. Many reminders of this period can be found throughout the area and they are worth taking a day to visit. Make sure to drive down Monument Ave, where a series of statues culminates with the impressive one for Robert E. Lee.
Richmond (often referred to as RVA) is made up of distinct neighborhoods and VCU's primary Monroe Park campus is located in a section known as The Fan. This historical part of the city is near the transition from downtown to residential neighborhood and there are plenty of places to visit before or after a game (particularly along Grace Street). Great options include the Village Café, The Black Sheep and Edo's Squid. The heart of the city is close by and though it can be walked, it's better to make the two-minute drive. The downtown area includes the beautiful State Capitol and its adjacent grounds. Touring the building is free and it is well worth it. Just down the street is the Museum of the Confederacy, another highly recommended stop.
Every VCU game in the 7,500+ seat arena has been sold out since January 29, 2011. That speaks not only to the popularity of the team in Richmond, but also to the passion of the fans as these are not "fake sellouts" (you know these as announced sellouts where every seat is sold, but not close to filled). All the more impressive is that even early-season contests against lesser-name foes feature a packed house. Ram fans hang on every play and their ability to recognize the flow of the game and when a boost is needed is the sign of a savvy crowd. The Siegel Center becomes deafening when a big play results and a few years ago, the decibel level hit 110 in a game against Butler. To go along with the aforementioned Peppas, the VCU Students play their part very well too as the Rowdy Rams won the Student Section of the Year award in 2013.
Richmond is a very accessible city as the major interstates in Virginia lead to the Capital. Both I-95 and I-64 are close to VCU and the easiest way to arrive is from the west, via Exit 76B. Coming from the east, a little more of the city streets need to be navigated. The Siegel Center is located on Broad Street and while this is congested after the game, police effectively navigate traffic to try and speed up the process. There are a couple of parking decks in the area, however these are reserved for school donors and season-ticket holders. Instead of searching for scarce spots, it is best to reserve a space online in the Laurel Street Garage, which is about a seven-minute walk to the arena. For those spending time in downtown Richmond before or after the game, there are plenty of garages in that section. However, it is a long and undesirable walk between the two areas, so park for the game around campus.
Inside the Siegel Center, access is pretty good thanks to a wide walkway around the top of the seating bowl. Bathrooms can be found in the hall in multiple locations and the lines at halftime are manageable.
Outside of club and suite sections, each individual seat is the same price for a VCU game and it is a bargain. The standard price is $25, however for bigger games price jumps to $45. This happens about five or six times a season and while the average ticket is higher than most schools in the Atlantic-10, the return value is significantly better. With VCU annually fielding competitive teams and the amazing experience created during games, this is a ticket that is well worth buying.
Throughout the concourse in the Siegel Center, there are several displays for VCU athletics. While the 2011 NCAA Final Four display lacks creativity and information, the Wall of Distinction makes up for it. Prominent VCU athletes are honored with a plaque that beautifully displays their decorated achievements.
Black and Gold are the colors for the Rams and the inside of the arena shows off this color scheme in the seats as the sideline sections spell out "VCU" and "Rams." The school also has plenty of free shirt giveaways and there are many games with fans all decked out in a certain color scheme.
Chris Crowley is not only a superfan of VCU basketball, but he can also be spotted with his Ram horns singing the National Anthem. The man known as "Pav" attained his nickname from the multiple similarities to Luciano Pavarotti and he is a staple at the arena.
Every sporting event nowadays seems to have a Kiss Cam or some similar take on it, but the Siegel Center has everyone beat with their version. The "Simba Cam" features parents holding up their little one like Simba from the Lion King and as you can imagine, the crowd is delighted as they uniformly say "Awww."
Finally, another point for The Peppas, man are they awesome!
VCU's Siegel Center may not be the best designed arena in the Atlantic-10 (or even in Richmond), however it has a fan base and atmosphere that more than makes up for it. RVA is a city worth spending a weekend in and a VCU basketball game would be a highlight for any sports fan. With The Peppas entertaining from beginning to end, the Siegel Center offers a terrific experience.
Follow all of Sean's journeys at Stadium and Arena Visits.
Member Review by CigarBoy on Mar 26, 2013
With a basketball capacity of 7,500, the Siegel Center offers most of the amenities of a large college arena, but with the intimacy of the smaller college arenas.
The Rams have had a consistent succession of young and talented coaches to lead their teams. Jeff Capel, Anthony Grant, and Shaka Smart have guided the program since 2002. During this time, VCU has seen unprecedented success, including a trip to the Final Four in 2011.
1630 W Main St
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