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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Lynn Cottrell Arena at UNG Convocation Center - North Georgia Nighthawks

Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14

Lynn Cottrell Arena at UNG Convocation Center 180 Alumni Dr Dahlonega, GA 30597

Year Opened: 2018 Capacity: 3,600


There’s a Basketball Goal in Them Thar Hills!

The University of North Georgia (UNG) opened in 1873. It is located in Dahlonega, GA, and has a student body of 18,046. Its largest areas of study are biology, psychology, and business. The University of North Georgia is one of only six senior military colleges in the U.S. Students are not required to be in the military programs at UNG, but a sizable percentage of the student body does enroll in the military sciences area of study.

The athletic teams at UNG are known as the Nighthawks. They participate in sports at the Division II level of the NCAA as a member of the Peach Belt Conference. This conference includes smaller schools from the states of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina.

The home of men’s and women’s Nighthawks basketball is the on-campus UNG Convocation Center. It opened in 2018 and has a seating capacity of 3,600. The Convocation Center also serves as the site for UNG graduation ceremonies, campus concert performances, and large community meetings for the citizens of the city of Dahlonega.

Both the men’s and the women’s basketball teams have seen great success since moving into the Convocation Center. The men’s team has won several regular season championships and the women’s team made it to the Elite 8 in 2018, the Sweet Sixteen in 2021, and the Division II Final Four in 2022.

Women's Achievements the Last Three Years, Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Food & Beverage 4

There is one concession stand located along the concourse at the south end of the Convocation Center. The stand is well-staffed and the lines move relatively quickly, with the exception of halftime and the break in between the women’s and men’s games.

The stand serves a very basic arena standards menu. However, the prices at the concession stand are much lower than we find at most college venues. The menu includes hot dogs ($3.75), nachos ($3.75), pretzels ($3.50), candy ($3.75), and chips ($1.50). The stand carries Coca-Cola brand beverages ($2.50) and bottled water ($2.50). Beer is not sold on the University of North Georgia campus.

Atmosphere 4

The UNG Convocation Center is a great place to enjoy a Nighthawks basketball game. It is a very modern facility, as it opened in only 2018. The arena features the blue, gold, and white team colors of UNG. One wall of the arena is all glass, letting in much more light into the facility than other sports facilities (Electronic blinds come down in the case of day games) The basketball court is surrounded on three sides by the blue seats of the seating bowl. All seats are below the concourse, which goes 360 degrees around the court. This assures that you will have a great view of the action no matter where you are in the arena.

The Convocation Center also features a state-of-the-art electronics package. There are large flat-screen videoboards at each end of the court. A new four-LED screen center-hung scoreboard was also installed in the arena in 2022. The sound system in the building is extremely clear.

Neighborhood 4

UNG is located in Dahlonega, GA. Dahlonega was the site of the first Gold Rush in the U.S. in 1828. Gold in very small amounts can still be found in the area. The city of Dahlonega is located 66 miles north of Atlanta in the North Georgia mountains.

The heart of Dahlonega is Courthouse Square, which is just two blocks east of the UNG campus. The square is filled with unique shops, great restaurants, and services that fill the everyday needs of both the year-round population and the UNG student body. The old courthouse in the square is now home to the Dahlonega Gold Rush State Historic Site Museum.

Among the more popular businesses located on the square are the Dahlonega Brewing Company, and the iconic Smith House Inn and Restaurant. The Smith House Inn opened in 1899 and is still an active lodging site. Its’ restaurant is famous for its family-style dining, and it is packed on a regular basis with both locals and tourists. Dahlonega hosts several festivals each year, with the biggest being Gold Rush Days in October. This festival celebrates both the town’s heritage with gold and the fall leaf colors in the North Georgia mountains.

The area is also a hub for the wine industry in Georgia. There are more than 15 wineries amongst the hills surrounding the town. The surrounding mountains also draw many outdoor enthusiasts to the area for hiking, white water rafting, and mountain biking.

For more information on things to do during your stay in the area, go to

Fans 4

The fan base at Nighthawk games consists of students and faculty members from UNG and the townspeople of Dahlonega. One of the most striking elements within the student body are the military cadets. They are easy to identify, as each unit in the military population has its own color. They wear all military fatigues for pants, but a T-shirt in their unit’s colors. This results in a rainbow of colors in their section of the arena. The Greeks section of the student body also tends to wear their Greek colors.

Rainbow of Colors at a Nighthawks Game, Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

UNG and the townspeople of Dahlonega share a great town/gown relationship. UNG literally is the only sports game in town, other than the lone high school in the county. They proudly wear the UNG colors, even if they have no official link to the school.

The University of North Georgia Pep Band does a great job of keeping the fans fired up with the assistance of the Nighthawk Drumline. Nigel the Nighthawk is the University mascot, and he does a great job of keeping the fans entertained with his antics.

Access 4

The UNG campus and the Convocation Center are located 66 miles North of Atlanta. They are easily reached via Highway 400 and US Highway 19.

Directions from Atlanta: Take Highway 400/US 19 North for 32 miles. When Highway 400 ends, continue on Highway 19 North for 8 miles. Turn left at the red light for South Chestatee Street (US 19) This will bring you up and over a steep hill that overlooks the city of Dahlonega.

After you have passed the hospital, go down the hill to the next traffic light. Turn left onto Morrison Moore Parkway. Turn right at West Main Street

Turn right at Alumni Drive and park in lot L-52 just outside of the UNG Convocation Center. You can park in any space in this lot after 5 pm on weekdays and anytime on weekends.

Return on Investment 5

You will not break the bank when you attend a basketball game at the UNG Convocation Center. Parking is free in Lot L 52 just outside the building on Alumni Drive.

Ticket prices are $10 for General Admission seats and $7 for Seniors/Students/Military.

The items at the concession stand are priced well below the typical costs charged at most college venues.

Programs for the basketball program are free, as they are digital, and are available by snapping a photo of the QR code at the entrance to the arena.

Lodging in the area can be found for less than $100, except during the leaf-changing season each fall and Gold Rush Days in October.

Extras 4

The University of North Georgia turns 150 years old in 2023. Several special observances will be held throughout the season, highlighting the athletic achievements of various Nighthawk teams over the years.

Dahlonega gold covers the steeple of the Price Memorial Hall on the UNG campus and the Georgia State Capitol Dome in Atlanta.

As an active Senior Military College, UNG still has military observances of Reveille, Retreat, and Taps. While only students in the military studies programs observe Reveille and Taps, all students, faculty, and staff stop when Retreat is sounded at 5 pm. They stop whatever they are doing and put their hands over their hearts and face the Drill Field while the Colors are taken down and the cannon on the field is fired.

Zac Brown of the Zac Brown Band is a native of Dahlonega and he took classes at UNG.

Final Thoughts

The UNG Convocation Center provides a better-than-average experience for a small college basketball fan. Its’ state-of-the-art facility offers a bright facility with an electronics package that you would expect to have at a much larger school. The fan base is a model of town/gown cooperation, with everyone wearing the school colors. The unique nature of UNG’s military programs also adds to the pageantry of the game. Finally, the town of Dahlonega offers visitors plenty of things to do before or after the game.

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