Marvin R. White Coliseum - Pearl River Wildcats Basketball
Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Marvin R. White Coliseum Poplarville, MS 39470
Year Opened: 2014
Welcome to the River
Pearl River Community College is one of 15 schools that play basketball in the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference (MACCC) in the NJCAA. The school began as a high school in 1911 before becoming JUCO in 1925 and joining the MACCC in 1927.
1927 also marked the first year of basketball at Pearl River, and since that time the Wildcats have had several historic seasons – Pearl River has won 19 MACCC Championships, more than any other program in the conference. The Wildcats have also advanced to the NJCAA Basketball Tournament three times, with the most recent one after the 2021-22 season. The Wildcats also had the number one ranked team in the country heading into the 2020 tournament that was cancelled due to COVID.
The Wildcats originally played at a local high school, until Shivers Gym opened in 1948. Marvin White Coliseum opened in 1972 and played host to the Wildcats until 2005, when Hurricane Katrina destroyed the facility. The Wildcats would play the next nine season in the old Shivers Gym, until the new Marvin White Coliseum was built in time for the 2014-15 season.
Food & Beverage 2
As usual in a small venue like this don't expect a wide range of concessions. They have one stand at the main entrance and the basics can be found; hamburgers, nachos, popcorn, sausage dogs, boiled peanuts, candy, pickles, and chips round out the menu. The most expensive item costs $4, so prices will not break the bank – 20 oz. Coke products, Powerade, and Dasani bottled water sell for $3.
The Wildcats play at the beautiful and spacious Marvin R. White Coliseum. Named after a long-time president of the college and former Korean War paratrooper, the state-of-the-art, $8.9 million venue is entering its 10th year hosting basketball games. The building is a large brick building with a slanted roof, located right across the street from the Wildcats football facility Dobie Holden Stadium. Like most athletic facilities at PRCC the coliseum stands out, and is nicer than most JUCO basketball facilities.
There is one entrance on the south side of the building with a small ticket office and lobby; a nice trophy case and the concessions stand are located here as well. Shiny marble floors, in the school colors of maroon and yellow, greet you as you walk around the lobby. Inside the building the court faces north and south, with 4,500 seats spread out across two levels on the east and west sides of the court. The first eight rows are chairback seats, while the last 6 rows are just plastic bench seating. Each seat is cushioned and has a cupholder – these are major league quality chairback seats.
There is a walkway that separates the first and second level of the building, with coaches offices and classrooms on the second floor overlooking the court on the south side. The north side of the building is lined with banners of the Wildcats basketball achievements. A four-sided center hung scoreboard hangs at mid-court and just shows the score. Unfortunately, the view from the last six rows is obstructed by the A/C duct work that hangs from the ceiling, blocking some of the view of the court and the scoreboard.
Basketball is the main focus here, so it could be kind of boring for some – there are no promotions or giveaways during timeouts or breaks in the action. There is also no pep band, although there are cheerleaders. During halftime they just play music over the loudspeakers for 15 minutes, although they do let fans onto the court to shoot basketball during halftime. A beautiful new shiny court with the Pearl River logo centered on a shadow of the state of Mississippi is the only renovation the coliseum has received since its re-opening.
The MACCC schools are in small towns spread out throughout rural areas of Mississippi. Poplarville is one of the larger towns in the conference and is the county seat of Pearl River County, and PRCC is located several blocks west of downtown. Poplarville has a population of 2,000 and is typical of a Mississippi town, with the southern small town feel where everybody knows everybody.
There are a few restaurants worth checking out downtown – Scooter's is a popular place for po'boys, and Deb's Pizza is a popular pizza joint in downtown. However, as Poplarville is located in a dry county, alcohol is not sold inside the city limits. Poplarville also doesn't have any hotels; instead, I would recommend staying about 30 minutes south in Picayune. Poplarville is also about 30 minutes south of Hattiesburg and an hour north of New Orleans, where there are plenty of hotels and better food options.
There was kind of a low turnout at the most recent game I was at – maybe 100 fans total at tip-off, with probably another 100 who came in during the game. There is a small student section in the west bleachers, but they didn't make a lot of noise, and only a few fans sitting in the upper levels. It is a shame more people don't come out for Pearl River basketball games because Marvin White Coliseum is a really nice building, but the atmosphere can be kind of dull without a lot of fans.
Getting to the PRCC campus shouldn't be too hard. Poplarville is located right off Interstate 55 about an hour northeast of New Orleans, and about 30 minutes southwest of Hattiesburg. Exit 29 to Highway 26 will be your best bet as it is the main road that heads into town; the campus is located a few minutes down 26 just north of downtown.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets for Wildcat basketball games are priced at $8 for all general admission tickets, which is about average for this level of JUCO ball. With the $8 ticket you are able to sit anywhere you want in the coliseum. The fans were kind of spread out at the most recent game I was at, so you are free to sit on the first row or the last row, or anywhere in between, and nobody will hassle you. I was also free to come and go as I wanted, which is always a plus.
Pearl River has a few famous alumni, but perhaps the most famous alumni is Jimmy Buffett, who attended here for one year (1966-67). Buffett hated Poplarville as there are no bars in town to play music in, so he resorted to playing his guitar from his Huff Hall dorm room, which is still standing just down the street from Marvin White Coliseum. Pearl River also has one alum who made it to the NBA, in journeyman player James Singleton.
If you are interested in exploring old gymnasiums, the historic Shivers Gym is still standing on campus right across the street from the coliseum. The old gym has quite an interesting history – it was constructed on the Army base of nearby Camp Shelby during World War II to serve as the recreational facility and barracks for soldiers stationed there. It was later moved to the Pearl River campus and played host to basketball games until 1972, and then again from 2005-2014. The old gym currently houses PRCC's recreation facilities, as well as is the home venue for Wildcat volleyball matches.
There is also a neat history museum on campus that I recommend checking out; inside are tons of artifacts and sports memorabilia related to the history of the college. You'll find past basketball championship trophies, former player jerseys, and even the original scoreboard and shot clock from the Shivers Gym on display.
There is also a pretty cool little bookstore right outside Marvin White Coliseum called the Wildcat Den. This is one of the nicest bookstores I've ever seen for a Junior College – inside you'll find a wide selection of different Pearl River gear, as well as a small coffee shop with an outdoor patio where you can watch the game on TV.
Marvin White Coliseum also played host to the 2022 MACCC Tournament, as well as hosted the 2020 Mississippi High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) South State Regional. Shivers Gym hosted the 2013 MACCC Tournament as well.
In 2019 the facility received its first upgrade when it got a new playing court – at midcourt is a shaded out image of Mississippi with the Wildcats logo in the center. The new court is quite shiny, and the state outline at midcourt under the national championship banner definitely adds intimidation for visiting teams.