- Jay Wagner
Greensboro Coliseum – UNC Greensboro Spartans
Photos by Jay Wagner, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Greensboro Coliseum 1921 W Lee St Greensboro, NC 27430
UNC Greensboro Spartans website
Year Opened: 1959
Capacity: 23,500 (7,617 for UNCG Games)
Greensboro, North Carolina, affectionately referred to as “Tournament Town,” has a longstanding relationship with the game of basketball. The Greensboro Coliseum has held the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament 23 times in addition to the Final Four in 1974, which was won by nearby North Carolina State. Although ACC Basketball undoubtedly has its fingerprints on the town’s history and culture, the UNC-Greensboro men’s basketball team is now the Coliseum’s full-time tenant. The Spartans moved permanently from the on-campus Fleming Gymnasium in 2010. The Spartans returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2018 after a 17-year hiatus.
Food & Beverage 3
The Greensboro Coliseum certainly does not lack a variety of food and beverage shops within the concourse. What it does lack, however, is a variety of open food and beverage shops. Carolina Barbecue, Moe’s and The Golden Roost all have spaces on the concourse. Unfortunately, most of these specialty food places seem to be closed for UNCG home games. Given the capacity for Spartans games are about one-third of the arena’s standard capacity for ACC Tournaments and concerts, it is certainly justifiable that not every concession stand is fully staffed.
In addition to Pepsi products, the concession stands offer the traditional “ballpark” fare with hot dogs, peanuts and popcorn that are reasonably priced. In addition to Pepsi providing the sodas, there is a decent amount of alcohol served at all events. Multiple cocktail bars are on the corners of the main concourse, including one sponsored by Harley-Davidson complete with a real motorcycle standing at the entrance. All bars appear to be open during Spartans games.
When you are a mid-major school playing in an arena larger than any in the NBA, there are some inherent challenges to creating an intense atmosphere. Fortunately, UNCG tries very hard to overcome those challenges, and in almost every way succeeds. Sure, the setup feels less intimate than a game an hour down the road at Cameron Indoor Stadium. However, the Spartans’ setup does make it a difficult place to play for the rival opponent. The Coliseum tarps off baseline seating and curtains off the upper deck beyond the first few rows. What is remaining are 7,617 cushioned chair back seats that put you right on top of the action. The only seating areas that might be less desirable are the upper sidelines near the corners. Because of the layout, these seats do not face center court. The spectator is then left turning his or her head at an unnatural angle to see the action. Despite the unusual angling, the seats certainly do not feel “far away” from the action at all.
The new center-hung scoreboard was installed in the most recent set of renovations. The board is high-definition and frequently shows replays of scoring plays and other meaningful moments throughout the game. The time and score are prominently displayed on the bottom strip of the screen. Time and score are also found on the digital ribbon boards as well as older LED scoreboards above the tunnels in each corner at floor level. The in-arena announcer wears a Spartans jersey and gets the crowd fired up very effectively. The cheerleaders, dance team, band and mascot are all fantastic and play a key role in keeping the energy there throughout the entire game.
Greensboro Coliseum Scoreboard, Photo by Jay Wagner, Stadium Journey
UNCG’s setup is a unique one. The Greensboro Coliseum Complex is a giant arena located off-campus. Instead of looking at that as a negative, the Spartans embrace the building for what it is. It’s a building that has seen more college basketball history than almost any other. It’s a stage where basketball legends were born. It’s a stage that has hosted the most epic of battles that will be remembered by fans for as long as they live. UNCG is the team that represents Greensboro on the college basketball map. College basketball is in the city’s DNA, so what better way to feed off that than to put the Spartans on the most historic of courts, put everyone close to the action and play?
The neighborhood upon immediately exiting the arena is a parking lot. However, the arena is only a part of the entire Greensboro Coliseum Complex. Included in the complex is an aquatics center, an auxiliary arena that hosts the Greensboro Swarm of the G-League, and the ACC Hall of Champions. Especially during ACC Tournament time, the Hall of Champions is the place to be. Even when there for a non-ACC event such as a UNCG game, check it out. It’s hard not to get goosebumps while seeing footage and memorabilia of Ralph Sampson and Michael Jordan just a few hundred feet from where they played over 30 years ago.
ACC Hall of Champions, Photo by Jay Wagner, Stadium Journey
Since the Coliseum’s legendary event is the ACC Tournament, there are restaurants a short walk away to cater to hungry fans between the afternoon and evening sessions. Plentiful parking and a decent restaurant scene are qualities that too often seem to be mutually exclusive. The Greensboro Coliseum’s setup provides both. For instance, Stamey’s Barbecue is a local favorite just across the street.
Two of the finest hotels in Greensboro – The Proximity and O. Henry – are located a few miles from the Complex. If you’re on somewhat of a budget, an abundance of affordable Marriott and Hilton brands at the Piedmont Triad International Airport will get the job done.
When you hail from the Tar Heel State, basketball fandom isn’t a suggestion as much as a de facto requirement. With the program making more and more progress each year, the Spartans’ fan base is a growing and emerging one. If you closed your eyes and listened to the crowd roar during crunch time of a close game, you might think you were at an ACC matchup nearby.
Although attendance numbers are obviously less than larger schools in the surrounding area, the UNCG fan base is pound-for-pound one of the most passionate in the country. The entire arena rises to its feet at tip-off and throughout key moments in the game. The fan base also very much identifies with their team’s aggressive style of play. The fans feed off the Spartans’ hard work and determination, and the team’s confidence rises as the noise level does. It’s understandable how a young, inexperienced player could be rattled when the intensity level ratchets up the way it does.
Greensboro is a town of 290,000 as of 2019. Despite being a larger city, it is very easy to navigate. Traffic is rarely worse than average, at least when entering and exiting an event. The Coliseum is located a mile or two from Interstate 40, which is the major interstate that runs through Greensboro. U.S. Highway 29 is the major north-to-south freeway that services the town. Parking is usually available at a $5 rate inside the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. No matter which direction you need to go to get to or from the game, it should be about as easy as it gets. Piedmont Triad International Airport is located about 10 miles away from the Coliseum on the west end of town.
As for on the inside, tickets offices and will call are located inside the main lobby. They can get a little backed up closer to tip-off, so you’re better off getting there early or buying tickets through their website beforehand. Security is more thorough than it is at most other mid-major arenas. You will have to pass through a metal detector and have any bags checked. Once your ticket is scanned, you then enter the main concourse at the top of the lower bowl. There are enough bathrooms to ensure no wait times during breaks in the game. The concourses are wide enough to easily accommodate a 7,000 or less person crowd. Although playing in a huge arena can have its drawbacks, it does mean there won’t be any traffic jams, both in terms of the concourse during the game and cars in the parking lot after the game.
Return on Investment 4
Mid-major college basketball is the best of both worlds, cheap ticket prices to watch Division 1 college basketball. The Southern Conference is not considered the premier conference in nation by most analysts, but it’s still a very good mid-major conference in the highest division of amateur basketball in America. Tickets start at $10 even for the biggest conference games. Season ticket holders mostly have the best seats in the house, but sometimes lower sidelines are available to the general public.
It’s just about impossible to break the bank at a UNCG game, and they are worth every penny.
Something incredible the Greensboro Coliseum does is show the game on large video boards at the ends of the upper concourses. It allows fans to travel the concourse without taking their eyes off the action. It’s a shame this isn’t a more mainstream concept in the world of athletic venues. And once again, the ACC Hall of Champions is a must-see. Greensboro and the surrounding rural North Carolina is the birthplace of the greatest basketball conference of all-time.
The Greensboro Coliseum is one of those places that feels different than others as you see the court for the first time. Some arenas have a unique smell or sound attached to them. The Coliseum instead has a unique emotional feeling attached to it. That feeling comes from knowing how many fans of yesteryear have sat where you’re sitting; doing exactly what you’re doing – experiencing an intense game on the hardwood; writing the next chapter of basketball memories for Tournament Town.