Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Dorough Field House 4484 Peachtree Rd Brookhaven, GA 30319
Year Opened: 1960 Capacity: 900
The Stormy Petrels
Oglethorpe University is in Brookhaven, Georgia, just north of Atlanta’s Buckhead community. Named in honor of the founder of the Georgia colony, James Oglethorpe, the university was established at its current location in 1915 – after originally being founded in the central Georgia town of Milledgeville in 1835, the school moved to Atlanta in 1870 before finding its permanent home in Brookhaven.
The school took on the moniker Stormy Petrels in reference to the legend that on his trip from England to the colonies, Oglethorpe marveled at the oceanic sea bird, the Storm Petrel, as it darted in and out of the ocean’s waves.
The Stormy Petrels have called Dorough Field House home since 1960, and along with being home of the men’s and women’s basketball programs, the venue has also hosted the school’s volleyball team. Oglethorpe University is a member of the NCAA Division III Southern Athletic Association, which is comprised of colleges and universities throughout Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Food & Beverage 2
A small concessions stand is adjacent to the Oglethorpe Hall of Fame on the upper level of the visiting end of the court. There is not a lot that will get mouths watering on the menu – just the basics of hot dogs, popcorn, and snacks consisting of candy and chips round out the food choices. Beverages include Coca-Cola soft drinks, Powerade, and bottled water. What does impress though are the prices; of all the items on the menu, a $3 hot dog is the most expensive. While there is not much to choose from, low prices do entice fans to grab a quick snack during the game.
Dorough Field House’s stone exterior perfectly blends in with the surrounding campus buildings and neighboring baseball field at Hermance Stadium. The impressiveness of the field house does not stop there – upon entering the gym area, fans are greeted with a series of high arching wooden supports and a wood-paneled roof. A row of long, rectangular windows run along the bottom of the roofline and in the ceiling above each basket support, allowing a bit of natural light during afternoon games.
What stands out the most is Pinholster Court itself, which has been dubbed “The Blacktop”, as the playing area is painted completely black. Without a doubt it is a one-of-a-kind court; when installed in 2015 the goal was to have a unique playing surface, which is indeed the case with Pinholster Court.
Despite newer facilities that strive to have the most state-of-the-art, technologically advanced basketball arena, Oglethorpe has taken the 70-year-old Dorough Field House and given it a modern, luxurious feel with its woodwork and distinct court.
Oglethorpe University is in Brookhaven, just north of Atlanta’s Buckhead community on Peachtree Road, one of Metro Atlanta’s busiest thoroughfares. There is a wide variety of restaurants in the area with a large, planned community named Town Brookhaven immediately neighboring the Oglethorpe campus. Atlanta’s famed Buckhead district is less than 5 miles to the south. Though the area has undergone a major redevelopment from the days when late-night bars and clubs were the norm, there are still plenty of bar and restaurant options in the area, many of them some of Atlanta’s finer dining establishments.
On campus, Dorough Field House is tucked behind the historic Hermance Stadium, which was built in 1920, and the school’s tennis courts and track. These facilities form a bit of an athletics neighborhood in the southwestern corner of campus.
A look at attendance numbers shows the Stormy Petrels typically draw between 200 and 300 fans per game. Occasionally attendance may double that, with fans more apt to stand along the top rail of the seating area than in the 900-capacity gym. This is pretty good attendance given the university’s enrollment is under 1,500.
In all, the fans do not seem to create a definitive home court advantage, but they are definitely supportive of their Stormy Petrels.
Roads leading to Oglethorpe University can often fall victim to the gridlock of Atlanta traffic. Weekday games commonly do not tip-off until 8 pm, though, which does give time for traffic to ease a bit in the area, so dealing with the streets and highways leading to the Brookhaven campus is a bit easier during those games.
Atlanta’s subway system, MARTA, runs directly past the Oglethorpe campus, but with the closest stop a mile to the south it is probably not the most efficient.
A small parking lot is directly in front of the field house, with a larger lot adjacent to the neighboring tennis courts and track; both mean just a short walk to the field house.
The main entry point to the gym is down a sidewalk that runs between Dorough Field House and the outfield wall of Hermance Stadium. Fans enter through a rather nondescript door labeled "Game Entrance” – this doorway leads to the upper level of the field house and a walkway that runs around the top of the seating area.
Return on Investment 5
It is hard to get better than free admission, free parking, and highly affordable concessions prices. A Stormy Petrels game is likely the most affordable basketball experience to be found.
The thought of an all-black court might seem a bit different to visitors of Dorough Field House, and with good reason. While basketball courts have generally started to take on a bit more of an individualized appearance from venue to venue, Pinholster Court at Dorough Field House is believed to be the only completely black court in college basketball.
The south wall of Dorough Field House features an extensive Hall of Fame. One of the more notable names is that of National Baseball Hall of Famer, Luke Appling, who played for the Stormy Petrels in 1929 and 1930. Appling’s Chicago White Sox jersey is displayed among the other retired Oglethorpe jerseys.
In addition to the recognition of Oglethorpe’s greats at the south end of the gym, the north wall pays tribute to conference championships and national achievements of the school’s athletic programs.
Dorough Field House is a beautiful facility – from the stonework on the exterior that seamlessly blends in with the surrounding campus buildings, to the woodwork throughout the interior of the gym, the venue is remarkable. The game presentation is a bit straightforward, but the intimate setting gives fans the feeling of being part of the game. In addition, a gym this size puts fans right on top of the action on the court, where the calls from the bench, the communication between players, and the speed of the college game is on full display. The combination of these factors creates an entertaining basketball experience at Oglethorpe University’s Dorough Field House.