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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Gateway Center Arena at College Park – Atlanta Dream

Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Gateway Center Arena at College Park 2330 Convention Center Concourse College Park, GA 30337

Year Opened: 2019 Capacity: 3,500


A Dream Matchup

In 2021 the Atlanta Dream moved into the brand-new Gateway Center Atlanta Arena in College Park, GA. The Arena is a mere ¼ mile from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Atlanta’s Southside. This location has earned the arena the nickname of “The Runway.” It is a part of the Gateway Center’s expansion, which includes a convention center, two hotels, and direct access to the airport via the Air Train people mover system.

The Gateway Center Arena seats 3,500 fans, which fits into the WNBA trend of moving the “right size” of its franchises into smaller capacity venues. The Dream formerly played at the 10,000-seat McCamish Pavilion at Georgia Tech and the 18,000-seat State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. They were simply too big for the Dream’s needs, plus the Dream had to line up behind the primary tenants (i.e., the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Atlanta Hawks) to establish their home schedule, which often left them with no weekend games and other unpopular dates. Now the team is the primary tenant in the new facility. The Atlanta Skyhawks, the G-League affiliate of the Hawks, also play at the Gateway Center Arena, but their two seasons do not overlap.

The Dream now play in a much more intimate setting than their former homes. All seats in the new arena are located below the concourse level, with no seats further than 18 rows from the court. The new layout also allows for much more lucrative courtside seats than they had in past homes.

Food & Beverage 3

The food and beverage programs have also been right-sized with the move to the Gateway Center Arena. There is now one primary concession stand on each side of the court, plus several product-specific culinary carts along the concourses on each side of the action. The program also benefits from the fact that stands are managed by vendors located on the Southside of Atlanta so that attendees are purchasing their food and beverages from companies they are familiar with.

The Hangar stand sells hamburgers, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, grilled chicken club sandwiches, smoked chicken hoagies, nachos, pizza slices, pretzels, candy, and popcorn. Post Oak BBQ features pulled pork sandwiches, smoked brisket, and hushpuppies. The sides include waffle fries, chips, and cookies.

Coca-Cola beverages are sold at both stands, along with bottled water, coffee, and energy drinks. There is a full-service bar set up in the lobby.

Atmosphere 4

The Dream has used the move to rebrand and refresh its look. This includes new court graphics and a new color scheme for their uniforms. The move to the Southside has also allowed it to be more focused in its marketing efforts. Its previous bases in the Midtown and downtown Atlanta had them in direct competition with Georgia Tech, the Atlanta Hawks, and other major events going on in the area.

New branding for Atlanta Dream, Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

They now market heavily in the Southside area of Atlanta. This has been a very underserved section of town for sports teams. The Dream marketing team has done a terrific job in the recruitment of civic organizations, church groups, and youth leagues for both season ticket sales and individual games, where a specific community group can be that night’s honoree. This has been very successful in getting the Southside to adopt the Dream as their “home team”. In return, the Dream has members of the team attend community events and appear at schools in the area to further cement the team’s outreach to the area. Thus far these efforts have been wildly successful, with near-capacity crowds at the games.

Neighborhood 3

The neighborhoods in and around the Gateway Center Arena have been adopted by the team, and work closely with area clubs and organizations on projects that are important to improving the quality of life in the area.

The “neighborhood” can also be expanded to include the many passengers and attendees that are staying at one of the two hotels on the property, as well as groups and individuals attending conferences at the convention center. The marketing team often does group sales as a “night out with the Dream” to conventions taking place at the center.

While most of the attractions in town are in the Downtown Atlanta area, the Southside also is home to some major attractions. These include the hometown Delta Airlines Flight Museum, the museum at the Chick-fil-A corporate headquarters, and Tyler Perry’s film studios, which is less than two miles from the arena. Some of the stars from these films are known to attend Dream games. Both College Park and East Point feature some terrific dining options.

Fans 4

The Dream’s decision to really focus on the Southside has really worked, as attendance is way up when compared with the team’s previous homes. The community surrounding the arena now claims the team as “their own.” In addition, the team has been very involved in outreach to Atlanta’s large LGBTQ community. This population has never been heavily recruited by the other major sports teams in the area, and they have responded very well to the team’s recruiting of their community.

Each Dream game is filled with recognition of the groups in attendance that night on the scoreboard. They also fill breaks in the action with fan participation games. This really ties the team and the fans together. The fans are the team’s “sixth player” in close games, making so much noise that it makes it difficult for the visiting team to communicate.

Access 4

The team’s new home is a dream to get to, as it offers multiple transportation options. If you are flying into Atlanta, you can simply take the free Plane Train to the Gateway Convention Center station and walk a short distance to the arena. You can also take the MARTA rail system to the airport from anywhere in Atlanta to the airport station and transfer for free to the Plane Train.

The Gateway Center Arena is also easy to get to via Atlanta’s ring road (I-285) Take I-285 South and take Exit #2 (Camp Creek Parkway). Turn left on Camp Creek Parkway, then take a right at the red light for Convention Center Concourse.

Once at the arena access is excellent. There is one main entrance into the arena, with multiple lanes available. Doors open one hour before tipoff. The signage is very clear in guiding you to your seats. All seats are below the very wide concourses.

Return on Investment 3

The Dream offers a wide variety of price points for tickets. The cheapest seats are located behind the nets at the north end of the court, and they go for $23. The seats on the corners are $35, and the seats on the sides of the court cost $44. The most expensive seats in the house are courtside seats just a few feet from the action. They cost $105 or more.

Parking at Dream games is $10. You can also take the MARTA bus or rail system for $5 roundtrip to the arena.

The concession prices at Gateway Center Arena are much lower than other sports venues in the Atlanta area.

Extras 2

The Dream work very closely with community organizations to offer free or discounted tickets to populations who are less fortunate.

The Dream works very closely with the civil rights organizations in the area on furthering Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of a more equitable society during the MLK holiday observances in his hometown.

Final Thoughts

The Atlanta Dream finally has a home of its own for the first time in its 15 years of existence. It is working closely with its neighbors to make professional sports more accessible to communities on the Southside of Atlanta.

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