- David Welch
Gas South Arena – Georgia Swarm
Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Gas South Arena 6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy Duluth, GA 30097
Year Opened: 2003 Capacity: 14,316
Gas South Arena – Georgia Swarm
Lacrosse has long been popular in the mid-Atlantic, northeastern states, and throughout Canada, but the sport’s popularity in the south has just started to blossom in the last decade.
The growth of lacrosse in Georgia has been helped by the addition of the Georgia Swarm of the National Lacrosse League. The NLL is a 15-team indoor lacrosse league with teams throughout the United States and Canada, playing their inaugural season in 1987. Indoor lacrosse is a combination of field lacrosse, played within a hockey rink on sports turf, with the production level of professional basketball.
Food & Beverage 3
Gas South Arena takes a unique approach to concessions – rather than individual stands spread out around the concourse, Gas South has two food court-style areas flanking the arena's main entry points. Gas South Arena is a cashless facility, so only cards are accepted.
The food court has options from some local, popular eateries. Slices of Johnny’s Pizza run $6-$8, with garlic knots for $9. Arena Dogs & Deli serves both traditional and specialty hot dogs in the $7 to $8 range, which can be made into combos including chips and soda for an extra $7.
The Cantina has Mexican food, including nachos, walking tacos, burritos, and tacos, all ranging from $8 to $12. The Georgian Grill has burgers, grilled chicken, and jumbo hot dogs. Slow Pour Brewing offers a fully stocked bar for mixed drinks along with canned or draft beers, wine, and seltzers. There is an extensive selection of Georgia craft brews available as well.
The overall quality of food and drink here is decent, so the higher prices are not completely out of line, but snacks and soft drinks seem a bit inflated.
The National Lacrosse League is a sixty-minute sensory explosion of music, strobe lights, and a high-energy stadium announcer. There is non-stop action, both on the field and in the stands. NLL lacrosse offers a high level of entertainment from the initial face-off to the final horn.
The excitement starts from the moment the Swarm mascot, Stinger, comes out to a darkened arena, highlighted by strobe and spotlights as player introductions begin.
As the energy leading to game time amps up, so does the music that is played throughout the game. The game presentation is similar to that of the NBA; the in-game announcer does an excellent job of providing a running commentary of the action while engaging fans.
Gas South Arena is in the still-developing Gas South District of the Sugarloaf. The area is a bit of a transition point between a heavily commercial area with office buildings, shops, and restaurants versus residential sub-divisions.
The Gas South Convention Center is also part of the Gas South District. At this time there are currently two hotels at the arena’s property, Embassy Suites, and Holiday Inn, but a third hotel, Westin, is under construction. The Sugarloaf area has been well developed over the years and offers many other accommodations directly around the arena.
In the area immediately bordering the Gas South District there are over a dozen options to eat before or after the game.
In the early 2000s, Gwinnett County prioritized building venues for national acts and professional sports. Not only do the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL share Gas South Arena with the Swarm, the AAA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, the Gwinnett Stripers, play at Coolray Field, less than 10 miles north on Interstate-85.
Georgia Swarm lacrosse has an extremely passionate fanbase – attendance appears to sit around half to two-thirds full. Though seating in the upper level of the arena is a bit sparse, the field level is much more packed with fans. Within the league, the Swarm’s attendance ranks in the lower third. Despite lower attendance numbers compared to the rest of the league, fans are a key part of the excitement here.
One of the fun aspects is following a goal by the Swarm when almost the entire fan base begins pumping their arms up and down, as they bounce to Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis, all while the arena’s horn goes off.
All-in-all, even though a bit on the less numerous side, the fans add a lot to a fun experience.
Getting to Gas South Arena is at the mercy of Atlanta traffic on I-85. Luckily, most of the Swarm’s games are on Saturdays and Sundays, so that does help alleviate the crush that Atlanta traffic can have.
Parking is available at the lot in front of the arena, or the garage directly next to it. Most fans will enter the arena through the main entrance into a two-tiered lobby with a wrap-around concourse to access their seats. The lower seating bowl is easily accessible and has manageable sloped aisles to navigate.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets for upper-level seats start at $12 if purchased the week prior to the game; the walkup rate jumps to $15. On the high end, tickets on the glass start at $63 and jump to $69 as a walkup.
The get-in-the-door price makes tickets rather affordable, but if you want to be close to the action it can get expensive, quickly. Factoring in $10 for parking as well as the concessions prices, the overall return on investment borders on becoming an expensive evening out. Even though being close to the action really highlights the speed of the game, the upper-level seating is every bit as enjoyable.
Through pre-game recognitions and community outreach initiatives, the Swarm does a fantastic job at recognizing the history of lacrosse and its indigenous roots.
The Georgia Swarm makes the evening entertaining. Stoppages in play are full of fan interactions. There is also a game-long scavenger hunt of Swarm apparel around the arena, plus a series of on-field contests and t-shirt tosses.
The Swarm’s mascot, Stinger, actively engages fans around the stadium and in the stands. Stinger does a wonderful job entertaining young fans during the game.
While lacrosse has been somewhat of a niche sport, it is not due to a lack of excitement. The field game itself is high scoring, with constant action, and the box version of the game is every bit as much, with excitement and entertainment added to it. It is difficult to attend a Georgia Swarm game and leave feeling like it was not an enjoyable time.