Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
McAlister Field House 171 Moultrie St Charleston, SC 29409
Year Opened: 1939
Bulldogs Shooting Baskets
The Citadel is the Military College of South Carolina, and it was established in 1842. It has a student body of 3,400 men and women. The campus is in the Hampton Park neighborhood on the western side of Charleston. The Citadel has a beautiful campus setting along the shores of the Ashley River. Tours of the campus are well worth your time.
McAlister Field House serves as the base for Bulldogs basketball. It was originally named the Citadel Armory but was renamed in honor of Colonel David McAlister, Class of 1924. Colonel McAlister served the school in several posts spanning several decades. The Field House was built in 1939 and can hold 6,000 fans in its basketball configuration. Basketball has been played at the school since 1901. The facility has gone through several renovations over the years. Among the improvements made to the arena are the installation of a new scoreboard in 2014 and the addition of chairback seating for outside ticket holders in 2020.
Food & Beverage 2
Charleston is known as a foodie paradise, and the Citadel does not try to compete with the fine dining spots found downtown. There is a lone concession stand located in the front lobby, and it offers a barebones menu of snacks and beverages. Pepsi brand sodas are $3, water is $1, hot dogs cost $3, popcorn is $5, and the candy is $2.
The setting for Citadel’s basketball games is rather spartan. Three sides of the seating bowl are pull-out bleachers, with the remaining side featuring very nice stadium seating. This section serves the alumni, public ticket purchases, and major donors. Cadets sit at each end of the court where they love to hassle the opponents with good-natured barbs and cheer loudly for their fellow unit and platoon members.
The Citadel mascot Spike the Bulldog is there to lead the cheers and a regimental band plays tunes during breaks in the action. The Citadel has a wonderful video/scoreboard over midcourt, as it has carved bulldog heads on each corner at the base of the board. There is no team store in the arena. The Citadel Bookstore is nearby and stays open later when there is a basketball game. It carries a full line of Bulldogs spirit items.
One of the nice elements of attending a game at a service academy is the respect for school and country by the student body and the general fanbase. This is certainly true at The Citadel. During the National Anthem, both the cadet corps and most of the alumni stand ramrod straight and salute the flag. At the conclusion of a game, win or lose, no one leaves a game until the school alma mater is played. The team, the Corp of the cadets, and the fans all stand together and sing along. It is a moving tradition.
Charleston has been one of the top tourist destinations in the US for many years. It is known for its beautiful homes, numerous historical sites, and its fine cuisine. People flock to the city each spring to take in the beautiful gardens that fill the backyards of many homes in the city. History buffs can travel to Fort Sumter in Charleston’s harbor or learn about the importance of the city as a key supply port for the Confederate Army. The cannons which fired on the Union forces in the fort were manned by Citadel students, as they had artillery training. A large percentage of visitors come to Charleston to sample the work of the many famous chefs who have set up shop in one of the many old homes in the city. Nearly every week is marked by a festival or a special event that is open to the public.
The fanbase at Citadel home games is made up of the Corp of cadets at the school and Citadel alumni. The cadets fill each of the end lines along the court, which places them in a prime location to disrupt the opposition’s free throw attempts and scoring opportunities. The proximity of the cadets to the court also allows the home team to feed off the energy created by their fellow soldiers. The cadets also use their competitive nature in the many contests that are held at halftime and during breaks in the action.
The Citadel alumni play an active role in the school long after they graduate. As a military school, The Citadel offers a lifetime bond between those who have graduated from the school and those who are presently enrolled at the institution. Alumni often serve as mentors for current cadets and are incredibly involved in the everyday workings of the school. Many of Charleston’s civic leaders are graduates of The Citadel. Alumni of the school are easy to identify at games, as they tend to sport polo or Oxford shirts in the school colors and with The Citadel crest prominently displayed.
There is plenty of parking on campus, so no one walks more than the equivalent of a block to get inside the Field House.
Return on Investment 4
Attending a game at the McAlister Field House will not burn a hole in your pocket. Tickets run from $8-$12 based on your location in the stands. All of the seats are chairbacks if you are sitting in sections 1-6. The concession offerings at the Field House are sparse but inexpensive. Fans can park free anywhere on The Citadel campus that is not marked as reserved.
Your main expense would be for lodging, and it would be wise to book your room as early as possible as many conventions and shows are held in the city each year, and can book the local hotels solid. If you fly in, the only time you will need a car is when you depart the airport for downtown Charleston or you want to travel the River Road that takes you to the many plantations that line the Ashley River. We suggest you utilize a ride share service and save the expense of a rental car and parking fees at the hotel. Charleston is a very walkable town, and there are various trolleys and busses available if you get tired.
McAlister Field House is also used by the wrestling and volleyball programs.
The biggest game of the year is the contest with VMI. They are The Citadel’s biggest rival. The game is always a sellout, and there is an elaborate military ceremony before the game.
Pat Conroy, author of such bestsellers as The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, and The Prince of Tides, played basketball at The Citadel in the 1960s. He is honored at McAlister Field House with a banner. Many of his novels were based on his time at the school.
One extra goes to the respect shown for the country, the school, and your opponent at each Citadel Bulldogs game.
Attending an athletic contest at any service-related school is always a memorable experience and attending a basketball game at The Citadel is no different. The cadets who play in this program qualify as sharpshooters both on and off the court, as the Bulldogs have one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the country each season. Games at The Citadel also offer a great deal of pageantry and tradition, both before and after each contest.