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  • Will Halpern

Fieldhouse at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex - Greensboro Swarm

Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Fieldhouse at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex 1921 West Gate City Blvd Greensboro, NC 27403

Year Opened: 2016 Capacity: 2,100


Basketball Swarms the Gate City

The state of North Carolina is known for many things: delicious BBQ, beautiful mountains and beaches, and basketball. The Tar Heel State is home to eighteen Division 1 college programs, including big ACC programs like Duke, North Carolina, NC State, and Wake Forest, and smaller mid-major programs like Davidson, High Point, UNC-Charlotte, and UNC-Greensboro. The state also boasts the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets who in May 2015 decided to own its own NBA Development League team that would play close to the team’s home base in the Queen City. Seven cities were considered in both North and South Carolina before it was officially announced in October that Greensboro was the city selected, and two months later the name Swarm was announced as a homage to the Hornets’ parent brand.

Greensboro is a natural fit to house minor league basketball given its history of hosting the ACC Tournament several times over the last few decades at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Fieldhouse, located just steps away and formerly known as The Pavilion, hosted many events over the years, from exhibitions of the annual Central Carolina Fair to many ACC Fan Fests for the Men’s and Women tournaments. In 2016 it was converted to host the Purple and Teal. With locker rooms, a field house-type roof, and permanent seating the building was truly transformed. The team is still in its infancy playing in the NBA Gatorade League, but there is a buzz about the future greats of the NBA playing in a basketball-rich city.

Food & Beverage 3

There is nothing spectacular about the cuisine at the Fieldhouse but the prices aren’t outrageous. Bottled water and Pepsi products go for four dollars a bottle. Chips, candy, and popcorn are two, three and four dollars respectively, while french fries, and pretzels, and a jumbo hot dog are four dollars a pop. If you’re feeling hungrier, you can get a chicken tender, or tender sandwich basket (with fries) for eight dollars each, or fifty cents more for a cheeseburger basket. A domestic or specialty beer will set you back eight and nine dollars. Although the food is solid, it might be worth trying one of Greensboro’s great eateries to get the most out of your experience when visiting the Gate City.

Atmosphere 4

The NBA Gatorade League started in 2001 with eight teams in just the Southeastern United States, and nearly two decades later currently hosts twenty-eight teams. The League has an eye on future expansion. It is hoped that all 30 NBA teams will own and operate their own affiliate much like the Hornets do with the Swarm. The League has seen a boost in credibility over recent years with the introduction of two-way contracts and it’s becoming a premier place for young players to compete for a coveted NBA roster spot.

The Fieldhouse is the perfect place to watch the best of the up and comers. The arena houses 2,118 chair back and bleacher seating on three sides of the court, and since you are no more than twelve rows or so from the hardwood, there is not a single bad seat anywhere in the Fieldhouse. The venue’s concourse is behind the basket closest to the entrance. It features an arcade-style basketball hoop set up for young ones to practice their jump shots, concession stands to grab something to eat or drink, and a table selling a nice selection of Swarm merchandise

The buzzer that indicates the end of a period, shot clock, or substitution is very loud, so those with sensitive ears should be aware There’s an appealing simplicity about the Fieldhouse: two electronic scoreboards are found on the walls behind both baskets, but there is no video board or any other bells and whistles at the Fieldhouse. While there are some fun promotions led by Sergeant Swarm, the team’s mascot and the Buzz Brigade promotions squad, the focus is on fast-paced, high-intensity professional basketball.

Neighborhood 4

The Fieldhouse is part of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex and sits adjacent to the Coliseum on Gate City Boulevard, one of Greensboro’s main drags. There are many places to grab some delicious food. For example, right across the street sits Stamey’s, home to delicious slow-cooked Lexington-Style BBQ for the last eighty years. It’s a wonderful place to get that old-fashioned pork or chicken goodness on a plate or as a sandwich. There is a plethora of delicious side items, including Brunswick Stew, hush puppies, slaw, and collard greens.

Drive one street over to Spring Garden, and take in some of the best burgers not just in Greensboro but throughout North Carolina. There are ten different gourmet options including The North Carolinian which is topped with a fried egg, bacon, pimento cheese, lettuce, and a fried green tomato, The Brooklyn and Cuban Cow are also worth trying. They’re modeled after the classic Reuben Sandwich and Cuban Sandwich respectively. There are also numerous starters including my favorites, fried goat cheese and fried crab cake balls. Don’t forget the Wall of Fries, where you can get more than a dozen styles of fries and potato chips including Sweet Thai Chili, Cordon Bleu, or Poutine.

Finally, no trip to Greensboro would be complete without a trip to Yum Yum about a mile up Spring Garden Street on the campus of UNC-Greensboro, where you can grab a tasty hot dog and some sweet and creamy house-made ice cream, at a more than a century-old institution. I’d recommend getting your hot dog “all the way” for a North Carolina style that includes mustard, onions, their in-house chili, and slaw, along with a glass bottle of North Carolina’s very own Cheerwine, before treating yourself to a scoop or two of their “better ice cream.” The prices are surprisingly very low, and even with large crowds, there is never a long wait time.

The main brewery that locals and visitors both love is Natty Greenes which has locations across the street from the complex as well as downtown.

There is always a lot going on in the Gate City. When you’re in North Carolina’s third-largest city and the biggest city in North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad Region, you don’t have to go too far to find something to keep you busy for a day or weekend. If shopping is on the top of your list, then the three-story Four Seasons Mall and the outdoor Friendly Center are five and ten minutes away. Those with children should check out the Greensboro Science Center, and the Greensboro Children’s Museum. Both offer hours of entertainment for young ones, with the former boasting a zoo and an aquarium, and the latter offering large climbing structures.

History buffs should check out The International Civil Rights Center and Museum in the site of the old Woolworths Department Store, where sixty years ago four North Carolina A&T students sat at a segregated lunch counter to help bring about integration. It is considered one of the most important events of the Civil Rights Movement. Nearly two hundred years earlier one of the most important battles of the American Revolution took place and you can stroll around the more than 200 acres where American and British soldiers fought in what is widely considered the turning point of The Revolutionary War.

All of these attractions are located just a fifteen-minute drive from the Fieldhouse, but if you’re wanting something to check out in the complex itself, a few hundred yards away from the home of the Swarm is the ACC Hall of Champions, a shrine to the fifteen Atlantic Coast Conference members, where you can learn about the history of some of the greatest moments in each of these school’s athletic histories and maybe get your picture with your favorite ACC school’s life-size mascot statue.

There are many hotels to stay near the complex including a Holiday Inn, Red Roof Inn, Drury Inn & Suites, and a Comfort Suites, all within a five-minute drive, as well as plenty of hotels downtown three miles east if you’re wanting to be more centrally located.

Fans 3

The Swarm is only playing in its fourth season, so the team is still trying to define itself. On weekends and other big nights, like its home opener, and the school day game, the Swarm can sell out the Fieldhouse, however on this mid-week affair even against a regional opponent the stands only looked about a third full which for a venue of its size, does mean less than a thousand people are in the seats. That being said, the fans who were present were engaged and knowledgeable and were focused on the game and not just on socializing or looking at their cell phones. The crowd would get loud for big plays, and it still made for an exciting atmosphere to watch some pro hoops.

Fan attendance could consistently increase as both the Hornets improve and the Swarm sign some local talent from any of NC’s many great college programs, but the trend of G-League franchises playing in small venues of a few thousand in most cases seems to be an advantage as the league continues to establish itself as basketball’s premier minor league.

Take a look at the inside of the Fieldhouse during a game here:

Access 4

The Fieldhouse shares a parking lot with the far more massive Greensboro Coliseum and there is an ample amount of parking. Parking is five dollars, but you can often find spots really close to the Fieldhouse’s entrance. For those who are taking public transportation, the number 11 GTA will get you from the Coliseum to the Greensboro Depot downtown for $1.50 one way and can connect you to Greyhound and Amtrak service as well if you’re coming from beyond the Triad.

Lines are very short (sometimes nonexistent), and walking around the concourse behind the basket is never too problematic.

Return on Investment 5

Going to see the Greensboro Swarm is an incredibly good deal: tickets start at twelve dollars, and with concessions not too unreasonable, and parking very low, watching some potential future NBA stars in an intimate fast-paced setting will only set a person back $25-$30, which is often less than the cost of just a ticket at an NBA game. The quality may not be as high, but these are still some very skilled players, and for those who follow the Hornets it allows an opportunity to see players on the rise in the organization up close.

To stretch your dollar further Fieldhouse Fridays offers dollar hot dogs, and two-dollar soda and beer. That, combined with a chance to shoot postgame on the Fieldhouse hardwood, would be the ideal time to catch the Swarm in action.

Extras 3

The first point goes to the unique Fieldhouse design and layout. They could have easily made a plain standard gym or arena but instead it has the feel of an airplane hangar. The next point goes to the map on display in the concourse of all of the G-League franchises and where they are located, which not only provides a reference to those who aren’t familiar with the circuit but also helps to showcase the league itself, showing how it has grown nationwide. Finally, a third point for the incredibly friendly staff at the Fieldhouse.

Final Thoughts

North Carolina has an extremely rich basketball tradition stretching from the mountains to the coast and right in the middle is Greensboro. The Greensboro Coliseum’s Fieldhouse is a unique compact space that hosts high energy, up-tempo basketball one rung down from the NBA. The Swarm is still relatively new on the block, but with the strong partnership of the Hornets, and the Greensboro Coliseum known for hosting some basketball classics next door, the Swarm has found a nest in the Gate City, and as the Hornets improve the buzz around the Swarm will only increase.

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