Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
KSU Convocation Center 590 Cobb Ave Kennesaw, GA 30144
Year Opened: 2005 Capacity: 4,600
Kennesaw State University Convocation Center – Home of the Kennesaw State Owls
Northwest of Atlanta is the suburb of Kennesaw and Kennesaw State University, home of the Owls. Founded as a junior college, it quickly grew to a 4-year college and on to a full-fledged university by the mid-1990s.
As Kennesaw State has grown, so have their athletic programs. Basketball first took flight here in the fall of 1985 as members of the NAIA, and quickly moved on to NCAA Division II status by 1994. During this time KSU called the Landrum Center their home court, but as the university looked to move to Division I, they needed a larger venue.
The Owls opened the 2005 season as new members of the Division I Atlantic Sun conference and began play in the newly constructed 4,600 seat Kennesaw State Convocation Center. The Convocation Center is not just home to Owls basketball, but also Kennesaw State University volleyball. After almost 20 seasons as members of the A-Sun, Kennesaw State will be taking another jump up, joining Conference USA for the 2024 season.
Food & Beverage 2
Midweek games can be challenging if you’re looking to grab a bite to eat beforehand. A well-stocked concessions stand can be a life saver when it comes to those coming straight from work to a game. For this reason, the choices at the Convocation Center are a bit disappointing. The quality of food is fine; it’s just the limited options leaves you questioning if you’d rather wait until after the game for something more filling.
The arena has one concessions stand located in the main lobby. The primary options from the concessions stand are a hamburger or hot dog. Either can be combined with chips and soda for a combo meal for $11 or $9 respectively. Other snacks include nacho chips with sides of cheese, jalapenos, or salsa cups. Popcorn, peanuts, and a variety of candy are also offered. Beverage choices include Coke products, Powerade, and Dasani. Beer drinkers can choose from Bud Light, Yuengling and Michelob Ultra, while there are also craft items from the local Dry County Brewing – selections include Dry County’s IPA, two varieties of Lechuza, or a Blueberry-Lemonade canned vodka drink.
The single concessions stand is fine for grabbing a snack either before the game starts or during the action, but it can get tricky at halftime when fans congregate in the concessions area. The quality of food is fine, it’s just the options are very limited. The bright spot is the high number of local beer choices.
The game atmosphere at KSU can best be described as perfectly low thrills. Immediately upon passing through the front doors of the Convocation Center fans are greeted by the Owls’ cheerleaders; they flank the trophy case displaying the 2004 Division II Basketball National Championship trophy, along with numerous other conference basketball and volleyball awards.
Fans enter the arena above court level, then make their way down to their seats. Reserved seating is available along the sidelines, while general admission seats are at each end of the court. While there are no suites, court side seating is available.
For those into the X’s and O’s and watching plays develop, the seats in the corners of the seating bowl provide perfect angles. If there are seats to avoid, they would be the ones directly behind the backboard stanchion since they create obstructed views. Most of the seats in these sections are either student seating or the area where the Black Storm, one of the Owls’ cheer squads, performs from. With only 11 rows of seating at court level, you’re never too far from the action and it would be hard to say there are any bad seats to be had.
The gymnasium lacks an overhead scoreboard, which makes the gym seem larger than it is. Though there is not an overhead scoreboard, there is a newly installed video board crowned with the words Kennesaw State University on the southern wall. The Convocation Center also has a great basketball feel to it – while the gym can hold 4,600, the upper bleachers are typically closed off, so fans are packed into the court level area of roughly 2,000 seats. Doing so makes for an even-better basketball atmosphere.
KSU balances the amount of timeout entertainment and the game perfectly; there are just enough fun events during timeouts to entertain fans, but there’s not a feeling of constantly having entertainment at every lull in the on-court action.
The KSU Convocation Center is located on the eastern boundaries of the main Kennesaw State campus. Over the past 15 years, KSU has made a point of adding on campus living, which enhances the atmosphere of attending Owls sporting events. The Kennesaw State campus is located at the crossroads of a major interstate (I-75) and one of the major thoroughfares of Kennesaw, Chastain Road. This area is heavily populated with apartments, office buildings, and a multitude of restaurants.
There are options for almost every taste bud, from the sports themed Taco Mac and their 100+ beers, to Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse, along with a variety of fast-food choices for those who just want a quick bite to eat. Those looking for craft breweries can find Dry County, Burnt Hickory, and Horned Owl Brewing all within 3 miles of campus.
Visitors looking for attractions prior to a game can find many things to fill that time. In the immediate vicinity there is Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield and its miles of hiking trails, while for Civil War historians the Southern Museum is less than a 10-minute drive from campus. The main Kennesaw State campus is located where residential meets commercial and serves as a nice area of transition from one to another.
KSU fans tend to be a bit late arriving, but it doesn’t impact the overall anticipation for tipoff. The fans who are there fill the arena with enough excitement for those who come later. As the game starts, the arena is about half full, but by the first media time-out at the 16-minute mark of the first half, the stands appear to be three-fourths full. Given the area the Convocation Center is located in, traffic in the area can make it difficult for the stands to be filled at the tip off.
Owl fans are very much into the game from beginning to end. Even late into a 30-point game, fans do not seek to make an early exit; they stay to the end and are engaged throughout. While the KSU gameday staff does a very good job creating a positive game experience, the fans really do their part in creating a home advantage for the Owls. It is an atmosphere that is fun from an entertainment standpoint, as well as a having a good product on the court to watch.
Kennesaw State University is centrally located within the city of Kennesaw and directly west of Interstate 75. During peak traffic hours, Kennesaw tends to be a bottleneck of traffic both heading towards or leaving Atlanta, and can slow down significantly. But if you’re able to navigate the highway traffic around Kennesaw, accessing the Convocation Center is very direct.
Upon arriving at the Convocation Center, free parking is located at the back of the arena in the East Deck. There is one main entry point to the arena which fans need to walk around the building to access. While the heavy traffic in the area can make it a bit frustrating getting to the arena, the free parking does help in making entry quick. Fans tend to arrive in waves so there is not a lot of waiting in line to get into the building.
Return On Investment 5
Parking at the Convocation Center is free in the East Deck on the second level. Tickets to get into the arena can be had for as low as $10 for general admission tickets, or $12 for reserved seating. At this price, finding a more affordable ticket in college basketball is going to be a challenge.
While the options at the concessions stands are a bit limited, prices are very affordable. With combo meals averaging $10, a family of 4 can attend a game and get a meal for everyone for under $100. With free parking, low priced tickets, and such good food deals, Kennesaw State might offer one of the most affordable experiences in college basketball.
As mentioned, Kennesaw State doesn’t wow with flashy introductions, flying mascots, or sling-shotting t-shirts during every timeout. What Kennesaw State does is allow the game to be the focus of attention, and supplements some time outs with entertainment, but it’s not constant, so fans are able to take a break from focusing on the action – for basketball purists, it is the perfect balance of entertainment and basketball game.
One thing that does seem to be lacking though is recognition of the 2004 Division II National Championship Men’s Basketball team. Other than the trophy in the lobby and the banner hanging from the rafters, there doesn’t appear to be noticeable recognition of the team, players, or coaches who are the legends of the program. While this does not detract from the overall experience, it is always nice to take in some of the history and top players of a program.
While bigger universities are fun in the grandness and certain aura they give off, games at smaller schools like Kennesaw State can be just as exciting, if not more-so. The ability to be so close to the court makes for a great experience for basketball enthusiasts, or a family looking to bring their child to a game and see it up-close and personal.