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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

GSU Convocation Center – Georgia State Panthers

Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

GSU Convocation Center 455 Capitol Ave SE Atlanta, GA 30312

Year Opened: 2022

Capacity: 7,500


The Panther’s New Pad

Georgia State University is the second largest school college in Georgia, with a student body of more than 53,000 students. It is an urban university, and its campus lies just north of the Georgia State Capitol in downtown Atlanta.

The athletic teams at GSU are known as the Panthers, and they compete in the Sun Belt Conference. The basketball program has been very successful over the last few years, as has won six conference regular season titles and taken part in six NCAA postseason tournaments. Until 2022 these accomplishments took place at the GSU Sports Arena, a third-floor gymnasium in a building that opened in 1972 and had seating for only 2,000 fans.

Fast forward to the beginning of the 2022-2023 basketball season. The Panthers have moved about five red lights south from the GSU Sports Arena into a state-of-the-art facility that has seating for 7,300 fans. The GSU Convocation Center has immediately become the best facility for basketball in the Sun Belt Conference. It is a formidable recruiting tool for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Food & Beverage 3

The concession stands at the GSU Convocation Center are located at the concourse level of the arena. There is one concession stand at each of the four corners of the arena.

The stands offer the typical stadium/arena staples: pizzas in cheese, pepperoni, or pepperoni and sausage ($9), cheeseburgers ($9), hamburgers ($8), hot dogs ($4), fries ($4), pretzels ($6), candy ($3), cotton candy ($5) and chips ($4). Drink selections include water ($4) and Coca-Cola brand sodas ($6).

Atmosphere 4

The GSU Convocation Center is a great place to take in a Panther’s game. This starts with the exterior of the building. Its’ outer skin includes brick, stone, metal, and glass. These are all materials used to mimic the skyscrapers of downtown Atlanta, so the building feels inclusive to the area.

Once inside you will notice the concourses are wide, with service areas built back into the walls so that they do not interfere with the flow. Blue accent lights are used to help navigate the corridors. The facility has placed concession stands at each of the four corners of the building so that fans will not bunch up at an individual stand. A wall of windows on the north side of the building provides a spectacular view of the State Capitol and the downtown area.

The seating bowl at the Convocation Center includes permanent stands on all four sides of the court. GSU blue seatbacks ring the court at two different levels. The 200-level seats are still close to the action due to the steep angle they are set in. The student section and pep band can be found at the north end of the court, leaving the other sections to be divided up between GSU alumni, parents, friends of the school and visiting team members fans, and family.

GSU Convocation Center, Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Neighborhood 4

The GSU Convocation Center is located at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Fulton Street in the Summerhill neighborhood of Atlanta. It is the latest addition to a growing sports complex that GSU is building just south of the main GSU campus. It joins the Center Parc Stadium (formerly Turner Field) as the second GSU sports facility in the complex. The next phase of the development will bring a GSU baseball stadium back into the downtown Atlanta area.

The Summerhill neighborhood is seeing a revitalization thanks to the investment that GSU is making in the area. Restaurants, breweries, shops, and apartments have replaced what had been a very blighted area. Among the businesses that have set up shop in the south Atlanta area are Rodney Scott’s BBQ, and the Country Inn and Suites. There are several restaurants and attractions in the area to check out either before or after a Panthers game. The Curb Market is a farmers’ market with several restaurants including the massive building. Zoo Atlanta is also located just a mile east of the GSU Convocation Center. The Georgia State Capitol is only one block from the arena, and it offers both a museum and a very interesting walking tour of the Capitol complex.

Fans 4

For many years Georgia State University was a commuter school with a large percentage of its students working full-time and taking their classes at night. This made it difficult for sports at GSU to develop a large fan base. Fortunately, GSU has become more of a conventional school with a much larger student body. This has resulted in much greater attendance at Panther basketball games. The student section at games is known as the “Concrete Jungle” as a nod to a famous book and its downtown surroundings. The student section is very original in its cheers and makes a sizeable amount of noise to encourage the Panthers and confuse the opposition.

Access 3

The Convocation Center is easy to access, as it is located at the crossroads of I-20 and I-75/I-85 (known locally as the Downtown Connector).

There are three entry gates at the Convocation Center. General fans enter through Gates 2-3, while fans with courtside seats enter through Gate 1. All gates open one hour before tipoff. Once inside the venue, it is easy to get to your seat. Signage in the lobby and concourses is excellent. The lower level of the stands is below the concourse, while the 200-level seats are accessible a few steps up from the concourse. All the concession stands are found at the concourse level. This means the 200-level of fans must go down into the single concourse to get food and beverage items or use the restrooms. This can mean long lines during the halftime break.

Parking is free of charge in the Blue Lot across Fulton Street from the Convocation Center. Overflow parking is available in the Green lot.

Return on Investment 5

Going to a basketball game at the GSU Convocation Center is an absolute bargain compared to the cost of attending other athletic events in the Atlanta area.

All seats in the venue are $20. Children aged 10 and under get free admission.

Concession prices at the Convocation Center are very reasonable compared to other sports arenas or movie theatres.

Parking for all basketball games is free of charge in the blue lot across Fulton Street from the arena.

Extras 4

The Convocation Center is designed to serve a wide variety of groups, both in the sports world and the educational world. It can hold 7,500 for graduation, and 8,000 for concerts. Other planned events in the arena are esports competitions, educational conferences, and community events.

Former GSU Coach Lefty Driesell is a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and is recognized on a GSU sports history timeline in the facility.

In addition to its Sun Belt Conference games, the Panthers will be able to play rivalry games involving Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia on their home court. In the past, these games were played as away games due to the small capacity of the GSU Sports Arena.

The GSU Convocation Center is easy to locate. The Olympic flame cauldron and rings bridge from the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games is located adjacent to the venue.

Atlanta Olympic Cauldron, Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Final Thoughts

After 50 years of playing in the undersized GSU Sports Arena, the GSU Panthers have now moved into an arena that figures to be the biggest and best basketball facility in the Sun Belt Conference. This will allow them to play many marquee games on their home court for the first time ever. The GSU Convocation Center will also be a major recruiting tool that should keep the Panthers in the top tier of the conference and in the NCAA Tournament on an ongoing basis.

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