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  • Lloyd Brown

Gateway Center Arena at College Park - College Park SkyHawks

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

College Park SkyHawks website Gateway Center Arena at College Park website

Year Opened: 2019 Capacity: 3,500


SkyHawks Soar in their New Nest

One of the newest additions to the NBA’s G League is taking flight in their new home near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The College Park SkyHawks, the G League affiliate of the Atlanta Hawks have settled into 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. 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 train. The Gateway Center Arena is the first major sports facility built on the south side of Atlanta. It seats 3,500 fans in its basketball configuration. The new arena also serves as the home court of the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA, who are following their league’s trend of moving to “right-sized” venues.

Food & Beverage 4

There are four 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 in a facility of this size. The concessions are open out to the court so you should not miss any of the action.

The four permanent concession stands are J.R. Cricket’s, The Hangar, Tri Cities Pizza and Post Oak BBQ. Each of these stands are owned by College Park area vendors as a part of building a sense of community between the team and its hometown. J.R. Cricket’s offers chicken wings ($8), chicken tenders ($11), Philly Cheesesteaks ($11), Nathan’s hot dogs ($3) and fries ($3). The Hangar’s menu mainly consists of fried and grilled items. They include a double burger ($10), a grilled chicken club sandwich ($10), fried pickles ($4), nachos ($3), and hush puppies ($2). Tri Cities Pizza offers pizza slices ($4), braised beef sandwiches ($12), meatball hero’s ($10) and an Italian salad ($8). Post Oak BBQ offers pulled pork sandwiches ($10), smoked gouda mac ($6) and smoked chicken wings ($10).

All of the concession areas offer popcorn ($4), cotton candy ($3), pretzels ($4) and chips ($1). Beverages include bottled water ($2), Coca-Cola brand sodas ($4), domestic beers ($5) and premium beers ($7).

Another nice touch are the drinking and eating rails along the concourse, so you don’t have to eat at your seat or balance your food in your lap.

Atmosphere 4

The new arena provides a much more intimate setting than other sports facilities in the Atlanta area. 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 actually 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 15 rows from the court. This closeness to the court really makes the fans feel a part of the action, as they can hear the coaches calling in the plays from the sidelines and see the action so clearly that a massive video board is unnecessary. Ribbon boards line both sidelines, exhorting fans to cheer during home team rallies. Rather than a center-hung video board, the arena has HD videoboards located at each end of the court.

The SkyHawks have created a lot of buzz on the Southside by playing in an area that has been underserved by any form of professional sports. There is a feeling of community within the Gateway Center Arena. The team has done a great deal of outreach to seniors, schools and community centers, encouraging the residents to think of the SkyHawks as “their” team. So far, this effort seems to be overwhelmingly successful.

Neighborhood 3

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 1930’s 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. Atlanta Movie Tours takes you to the sites where films and TV shows such as The Hunger Games, The Walking Dead and Stranger Things were filmed.

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.

Fans 3

As an expansion team in the G League, the team is still establishing its fan base. The marketing is heavily skewed towards the Southside and typically there will be many community groups in attendance each game. The team recognizes these groups during breaks in the action and at halftime. You are staring to see more and more fans wearing the team colors or team gear, so it is apparent that the team is slowly building its core fan base. The fans are so close to the action, that they can impact the on-court play by chanting Dee-Fence to disrupt the other teams’ communications.

Access 4

The new arena offers multiple transportation options. If you are flying into Atlanta, simply board the free Skytrain at the main terminal and it 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. Continue on Concourse past the Convention Center and the hotels. The arena will be on your right, with parking available immediately in front of the venue. 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. Follow the road around the Convention Center and hotels. 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 15 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 SkyHawks offer a wide variety of price ranges for seats. The cheapest seats are at concourse level in the end zones and go for $10, with seats along the sides going for $25. The most expensive seat in the house goes for $52 and gets you a seat on the playing floor sidelines. Parking at SkyHawks games is $10 or you can take public transit for $2.50 on the MARTA system then transfer to the free people mover train 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.

Extras 2

The ownership group of the SkyHawks includes hip hop artist “2 Chainz” Epps, former Duke star and Basketball Hall of Fame member Grant Hill and Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler.

Harry the Hawk has a Southside cousin in the form of Colli Hawk, the mascot for the College Park team.

Final Thoughts

The SkyHawks arrival at the Gateway Center Arena at College Park has been a reinvigorating experience for the Southside, as economic development and recreational opportunities in the area has lagged far behind the downtown area and the northern suburbs. The team has made going to games as economical and entertaining as possible. The community has really responded positively to these efforts.

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