Bon Secours Wellness Arena – Furman Paladins
Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Bon Secours Wellness Arena 650 N Academy St Greenville, SC 29601
Year Opened: 1998
Bon Secours Wellness Arena – Furman University Paladins Men’s Basketball
Rivalry games often create a buzz that demands a bigger venue than some on-campus gymnasiums can hold. 2019 saw the initial incarnation of “Weekends at the Well” where the Furman Paladins hosted games at downtown Greenville, South Carolina’s Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Of the opponents the Paladins would play, one has consistently been their Southern Conference and in-state rival, the Wofford Terriers.
Bon Secours Wellness Arena is a multi-purpose venue that also serves as the home ice of the Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL.
Food & Beverage 5
Bon Secours Wellness Arena offers food for just about everyone’s tastes. Each of the concession stands around the concourse has the expected staples such as hot dogs, popcorn, and candy, but also has a specialty offering – GVL Pizza for example offers traditional cheese and pepperoni slices, but also has Hawaiian and Buffalo Chicken slices, while Piedmont Grill serves up burgers, buffalo chicken, and wraps; Reedy River Roost prepares chicken in almost a half dozen ways. Also, not only are the traditional concession stands cashless here, but fans at the Reedy River Roost actually use touch screens to place their own orders.
The traditional concession stands are not the only options at Bon Secours Wellness Arena; several other carts offer gourmet style meals, including Mac Attack which has 3 types of macaroni and cheese. Carolina Smoke offers up southern BBQ, while fans can get burritos, nachos, or a quesadilla from the Moe’s cart. In addition, the Swamp Dog cart has five types of hotdogs and sausages.
Along with the seemingly endless food options there is a wide selection of beer, wine, and liquor drinks. One of the concession stands is dedicated to craft beers, providing fans with choices of several ales, IPAs, lagers, and seasonal brews. All 16 oz beers and wine run $10, where mixed drinks top out at $20 for top shelf.
While prices are a bit higher than on-campus concessions, the quality of food is worth the extra cost; most entrees run between $9 to $13.
Fans have two main access points into Bon Secours Wellness Arena, with a third entrance for VIP ticket holders. The arena is a modern-looking facility, both inside and out – the concourse features several television monitors that allow fans to keep up with the game along with games of interest from around the country. A large, octagonal scoreboard hangs over mid-court and provides fans with a video feed on the main panels, with score and player foul counts on the corners.
Throughout the game, in-game co-hosts run promotions and on court contests. Their presence during stoppages in play balances well with the down time of media breaks, and is not overdone to the point of being too much. Much of the remaining time during dead balls is filled with a combination of an in-house DJ and Furman’s pep-band.
With Bon Secours Wellness Arena also being used for hockey, seating at the ends of the main level is pushed back a decent distance from the floor. However, seats in the corners do provide good views while staying close to the action.
Greenville, South Carolina is one of the hidden gems of the South. Main Street in downtown Greenville offers a near endless number of shops, bars, restaurants, breweries, and hotels. Downtown Greenville has everything a visitor might want and need, all within walking distance from Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
Just over a mile from Bon Secours Wellness Arena is Falls Park; it is well known for its walking trails, suspension bridge, and waterfall on the Reedy River. Falls Park is a popular location year-round – the suspension bridge is something the city of Greenville takes so much pride in that it has even been worked into the court design of the basketball floor.
Moving the game off campus can be a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to the impact fans can have on the game. On one hand the larger venue allows for more fans to be a part of rivalry games, giving the Paladins a tournament-type atmosphere as they prepare for post season play. On the other hand, the intensity of a smaller gymnasium removes the homecourt advantage a bit, and seems to zap the energy out of the crowd. While still engaged in the game and cheering for big plays, students seem a bit more subdued in this type of setting – there does not appear to be the effort to rattle the opponents that is more evident in-home games at Timmons Arena.
While not directly off Interstate-85, the I-185 bypass feeds into US Highway 29 and Bon Secours Wellness Arena area, in total about a 15-minute drive from I-85.
Once at the arena parking can be found in just about all directions. Most lots cost $10, but if you are willing to walk a block, the city’s public lots charge a $7 daily rate. If parking at the arena, entering the Church Street garage on the Beattie Place entrance, then parking on the 3rd level will provide the most convenient entrance.
Bon Secours Wellness Arena has a wide concourse that makes navigating the arena easy, and the concessions are well enough offset as to not cause congestion.
Return on Investment 4
General admission tickets start at just $5, which is less expensive than the cheapest ticket at Timmons Arena (on-campus tickets start at $15). With an off-campus facility, parking costs are out of Furman’s hands – $10 for parking is not out of line with what might be expected, but it’s just inconsistent with typical SoCon prices. However, all-in-all the overall cost is the same regardless of the venue; it’s just the total costs are divided differently.
In creating a fully inclusive arena environment, Bon Secours Wellness Arena renovated one of its suites into a sensory suite for fans with sensory needs. The suite has sound and light-dampening glass, as well as sensory calming accessories.
Another nice touch of the Weekend at the Well series is that players come out and sign autographs for fans following the game; this goes a long way toward building a fan base with younger fans, in hopes of growing a new generation of Paladins.
While games being moved off campus into a bigger, downtown arena does provide a special feel to the event, some of the magic of the homecourt advantage and the crowd is lost when playing in the larger venue.
While there are benefits for moving big games off campus to a larger venue, there just seems to be some of the pageantry lost when the biggest rivalry game is moved off the home court.