- Lloyd Brown
Gateway Center Arena at College Park – Atlanta Dream
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Gateway Center Arena at College Park 2330 Convention Center Concourse College Park, GA 30337
Atlanta Dream website Gateway Center Arena at College Park website
Year Opened: 2019 Capacity: 3,500
The Dream Are Flying High In Their New Home
After a year and a half delay due to the pandemic, the Atlanta Dream are now flying high in their new home near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The Gateway Center Arena at College Park is a mere quarter of a mile from the world’s busiest airport, earning it the nickname of “The Runway”. It opened in the fall of 2019 as an expansion of the Gateway Center development, which includes a convention center, two hotels, and direct access to the airport via an aerial people mover tram.
The Gateway Center Arena is the first major sports facility built on the Southside of Atlanta. It seats 3,500 fans in its basketball configuration, which fits in closely with the WNBA’s trend of “right-sizing” its franchises into smaller capacity venues. The Dream formerly played in the 18,000 seat Philips Arena/State Farm Arena and the 10,000 seat McCamish Pavilion at Georgia Tech. The new arena also serves as the home court of the College Park Skyhawks, the NBA G League affiliate of the Atlanta Hawks.
The three-time Eastern Division Champion Dream team opened its 2021 season in a much more intimate setting than they have had in the past. All seats in the Gateway Center Arena are located below the concourse and offer an up-close view of the action. The layout within the seating bowls allows for more fans to be seated at court level, with seats the length of one side of the court and in both end zones. The highest seat in the arena is a mere 16 rows from the court.
Food & Beverage 3
There are two primary concession stands located around the concourse level of the arena, plus numerous product-specific culinary carts. The menu of items available at the Gateway Center Arena is broader than you would expect for a small capacity venue. First let us talk about the basics, which are sold at The Hangar: cheeseburgers ($10), grilled chicken club sandwiches ($9), smoked chicken hoagies ($8) hot dogs ($3), nachos ($3), pizza slices ($4), pretzels ($4), candy ($2) and popcorn ($4). Beverages include bottled water ($2), Coca-Cola brand bottomless sodas ($4), domestic beers ($5), and premium beers ($7).
Post Oak BBQ has pulled pork sandwiches ($10), smoked brisket ($10), smoked chicken ($9), chicken tenders ($8), and hushpuppies ($2). Sides include waffle fries ($3), candy ($3), chips ($2), and cookies ($3). Coca-Cola brand sodas are $4, with coffee available for $3 and energy drinks are available for $5.
The Dream is using its move to its new home as an opportunity to rebrand and refresh its look. This includes the use of a new logo, new court graphics, and a new color scheme for its uniforms. The move to the Southside also allows it to diversify its fanbase, as their previous homes have been either in downtown Atlanta or the Midtown area. They now have an opportunity to reach areas underserved by any form of professional sports, while retaining their previous fanbase through easy access to the Gateway Center Arena via public transportation or Atlanta’s grid of major expressways.
There is a feeling of community within the Gateway Center Arena that was missing in their more cavernous former home courts. The team has done a great deal of outreach to seniors, schools, and community centers on the Southside, encouraging the residents to think of the Dream as “their” team. So far, this effort seems to be overwhelmingly successful.
The Gateway Center Arena is defined in many ways as far as its neighborhood. First, it is a part of a major convention complex, with hotels, restaurants, and shops within easy walking distance of the arena. It is also the next-door neighbor to the world’s busiest airport, with a direct people mover link from the main terminal building to the arena for fans from out of town who might like to catch a game. Its third neighborhood consists of the many southern suburbs of Atlanta. Many of these towns date back to before the Civil War and have families that are deeply rooted in the area.
While most of the main attractions are in downtown Atlanta, the area surrounding the Gateway Center Arena has a great deal to offer. Several attractions are in the vicinity with the first being the Delta Flight Museum, which features everything from a mail delivery plane from the 1930s to a 747, Atlanta is also the third-largest movie production location after New York City and Hollywood. Tyler Perry’s production facilities are less than 2 miles from the arena. In addition to the restaurants in the Gateway complex, you can visit the original Chick-fil-A location for lunch, which was known as the Dwarf House due to its small and limited seating capacity. College Park and East Point feature some great small-town shopping and dining options.
The team’s decision to heavily market to the Southwest section of Atlanta has really paid off in fan turnout. Previously there were no professional sports being played south of the downtown area… so this was an untapped territory. The team is also very involved in supporting activities in the LGBTQ community and receives a large turnout of this significant portion of the Atlanta community.
The team has a very active social engagement team during the games, and the fans react very enthusiastically to these activities during breaks in the action. The right-sizing of the arena to a typical turnout has brought the fans much closer to the action, as the farthest seat from the floor is only sixteen rows away. This has increased the enthusiasm of both the players on the court and the fans in the stands.
The new arena offers multiple transportation options. If you are flying into Atlanta, simply board the free Skytrain at the main terminal and will drop you off at the Gateway Center Station and the arena in under 3 minutes. On public transit, you would take the South Line of the MARTA system to the Airport Station and transfer to the Skytrain. From Downtown Atlanta on I-85: Take the Camp Creek Parkway exit (#72). Once on Camp Creek Parkway, turn left at the first red light onto Gateway Center Concourse. The arena will be on your right. From I-285 (Atlanta’s ring road): Take the Camp Creek Parkway exit (#2) towards the airport. Go eight red lights and turn left onto Gateway Center Concourse. The arena will be on your right.
Access inside the arena is excellent. The concourse is open to the court and no seat is more than rows from the court. There are an adequate number of restrooms and concession stands to service the size of the crowds very quickly and efficiently. Doors open one hour prior to tipoff.
Return on Investment 4
The Dream offers a wide variety of price ranges for seats. The cheapest seats are at the concourse level in the end zones and go for $18. The most expensive seat in the house goes for $138 and gets you a seat on the playing floor sidelines with all the food you can eat. Parking at the Dream games is $10, or you can take public transit for $2.50 on the MARTA system then transfer to the free people mover tram at the Airport Station. You would exit the people mover at the Gateway Center Station. The concession pricing at the Gateway Center Arena is very reasonable compared to other major league venues in the area.
The Dream offers a wide variety of price ranges for seats. The cheapest seats are at the concourse level in the end zones and go for $18. The most expensive seat in the house goes for $138 and gets you a seat on the playing floor sidelines with all the food you can eat.
Parking at the Dream games is $10, or you can take public transit for $2.50 on the MARTA system then transfer to the free people mover tram at the Airport Station. You would exit the people mover at the Gateway Center Station.
The concession pricing at the Gateway Center Arena is very reasonable compared to other major league venues in the area.
The move to the Gateway Center Arena at College Park has been a reinvigorating experience for the Dream, as its intimacy creates a much more powerful link between the team and its fans. In the past, a 10% full mega-arena would muffle any kind of crowd noise during close games or inspiring plays. Now, these same situations are amplified greatly as the fans are only a few feet from the action. The move to the Southside has also brought professional sports to a greatly underserved market within the metro area. The Dream also is the star of the show at the Gateway Center, where it often had to fight for attractive dates in the major arenas downtown.