- Lloyd Brown
G. B. Hodge Center - USC Upstate Spartans
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
G. B. Hodge Center Hodge Dr Spartanburg, SC 29303
USC Upstate Spartans website G. B. Hodge Center website
Year Opened: 1973 Capacity: 818
Enjoy a Very Spartan Experience
USC Upstate is one of the newest members of the South Carolina University System. It opened in 1967 and has a student body of 6,000 students. The school is located on a 330-acre campus just northeast of downtown Spartanburg. The University offers degrees in Liberal Arts, Science, Business Administration and Nursing.
The athletic teams at USC Upstate are known as the Spartans and they compete in the Big South Conference of Division I NCAA basketball. The Spartans have only been at the Division I level since 2007. Other schools in the Big South Conference include Charleston Southern, Liberty, Winthrop, Presbyterian, Garner Webb, Radford and High Point.
The Spartan basketball program has been very successful over the years, winning the NAIA National Championship once, and the Peach Belt Conference title six times. The home court for the Spartans is the on campus G.B. Hodge Center. The center opened in 1973 and has gone through several renovations over the years to keep it as state of the art as possible.
Food & Beverage 4
The Hodge Center has one concession stand located in the main lobby. The menu includes hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, peanuts, popcorn, Coca-Cola sodas and bottled water at the extremely low price of $2.50. Even better… chips, candy, gum and granola bars are only $1.25!
There are very few restaurants located near the campus, and at these prices, why go elsewhere?
A parquet basketball court…. the home team is dressed in green and white uniforms…. a packed arena full of adoring fans. Think you’re at the TD Garden at a Celtics game? In reality, you are at the G.B. Hodge Center experiencing a USC Upstate Spartans game. Even though you are at the smallest arena in Division I basketball with a capacity of 837, you would never know it from the level of excitement in the building.
The Spartan experience starts before you even enter the facility. The building is guarded around the clock by a Spartan statue standing watch just to the left of the Hodge Center entrance. Make sure to have a selfie done with this campus landmark. Upon entering the lobby, you will be greeted with some of the friendliest staff and volunteers ready to guide you to your seats. The lobby has plenty of interesting elements to check out, including the Spartan logo inlay in the floor, the montage on the wall that covers the various Spartan sports and a plaque that tells you about Dr. Hodge’s involvement with the founding of the school.
As you enter the arena proper, you will be struck by the intimacy of the seating area to the court. Even the top row of the bleachers will provide you with an up-close view of the action. You’ll truly feel a part of the game.
Instead of a center hung scoreboard, USC Upstate has a video board/scoreboard at each end of the court. In addition, the scorers table is an LED ProTable. This allows the score and pertinent statistics to be projected to the crowd at court level. Another artistic touch is the 3-D statues of a Spartan mounted on the walls on each side of the court.
USC Upstate is located northeast of downtown Spartanburg, South Carolina, which is midway between Charlotte, North Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina along I-85, and only one hour from Asheville, North Carolina via I-26. It has often been known as the “Hub City” due to its strategic location for commerce. It should come as no surprise that two of the city’s main attractions relate to transportation.
Spartanburg is home to the only BMW Museum in the country, as well as the Hub City Railroad Museum. When dining in the South, BBQ is a must, and you will find the best in Spartanburg at Carolina BBQ. Lodging near USC Upstate is rather sparse due to its isolated location away from the interstate. The Quality Inn and Suites on Simuel Road is the closest hotel to the campus and provides excellent accommodations at reasonable prices.
The Spartans enjoy a very loyal fan base. One explanation is that most of the student body went to high school in the area and have many former high school classmates now performing at USC Upstate. Another reason for the keen interest in the Spartans is that rather than just a single rivalry, the Big South Conference offers up multiple rivalries due to the close proximity of the many schools. A vast majority of the member institutions are in the Carolinas. The student body is very active in supporting the teams as all athletic facilities are located on campus and the admission to all school sporting events through the activity fee is included in tuition.
Family is also a very important part of the fan base. It is not unusual to see several generations of a player’s family in attendance at the games. They are not hard to identify, as they yell the loudest and proudly wear buttons featuring a photo of their family member in their game uniform.
USC Upstate does not have a pep band, and even if they did there is little or no space in the arena to put them. Making up for this are the Spartans cheer team and the school mascot, Sparty.
USC Upstate and the G.B. Hodge Center are easily accessed via I-85. From I-85:Take exit #72 onto Highway 176 East. Take the East Campus Boulevard exit and turn left at the bottom of the ramp. Continue on East Campus Boulevard and turn left at the first entrance into the campus. You will then take an immediate left onto Hodge Drive. It will take you around the perimeter of the campus. The road will curve to the right just as you reach the front of the campus. The Hodge Center will be on your left as you reach this curve. It is next door to the Administration Building. If you reach the fountains in front of the Administration Building you have gone too far.
Return on Investment 5
An afternoon at a Spartans basketball game will not break your budget. Reserved seat tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children. General Admission tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children. Students can attend free as a part of their school activity fee.
Parking is free. The concessions are very reasonably priced.
If you are coming from the Charlotte, Greenville or Asheville areas you should not require lodging, as Spartanburg is within commuting distance. If you are staying overnight, lodging in the area averages less than $100 a night. Spartanburg also offers some very reasonably priced dining options for a pre or post game meal.
The Hodge Center is named for a Spartanburg educator and philanthropist who was instrumental in the formation of USC Upstate.
USC Upstate is a very green campus. There is a lovely arboretum and garden located in the middle of the campus.
The Spartan statue next to the Hodge Center is a great place to shoot a selfie on campus.
In just a short period of time, USC Upstate has come a long way to having a very competitive athletic program at the Division I level. The student body is growing by leaps and bounds and the Carolinas are rich in athletes, especially in football, baseball and basketball.