Photos by Lance Sutehall, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71
Mitchell Center 2195 Mitchell Center Dr Mobile, AL 36608
Year Opened: 1999
Welcome To The Mitch
Mobile, Alabama is home to the original Mardi Gras, the USS Alabama battleship, and Dauphin Street. It is also where the University of South Alabama is located and where the USA Jaguars athletics program plays.
Basketball has been played at the University of South Alabama since 1968. The USA Jaguars have made the NCAA tournament eight times but have not been invited to the dance since 2008.
After playing in Jaguar Gym for the first three decades of the program’s existence the Jaguars moved to the Mitchell Center in 1999, their home ever since. In addition to servicing the University of South Alabama, it is also the premier concert venue in the Southern part of Alabama.
Food & Beverage 3
The typical stadium fare includes cheeseburgers ($7.50), hotdogs ($4.50), nachos ($4.50), Conecuh sausage ($7.50), chicken tenders ($8), pretzel sticks ($5), chips ($3.50), and candy ($4). BBQ sandwiches ($9), BBQ potatoes ($11), and BBQ nachos ($11) are also sold.
Soft drinks are provided by Coca-Cola and options include Dasani water ($5), 22 oz sodas ($3.50), and a 32 oz souvenir cup ($5.50). Beer is sold with Bud Light, Miller, and Coors costing $6.50 while Michelob, White Claw, and South Alabama beer sold for $7.50. The concession stands are cashless.
There are two entrances to the Mitchell Center with the South entrance (the one with the parking next to it) having a sculpture called “Challenge” by Gail Folwell that depicts a tip off in basketball. The North entrance is near the Moulton Bell Tower and has a sculpture of a jaguar in front of it.
If you enter through the North entrance you will walk by the Waterman Globe, which had been at the Waterman Building until 1973 when it was disassembled. It was restored and reconstructed in time for its placement at the Mitchell Center when the arena opened.
By the globe, you will see a small South Alabama athletics hall of fame with plaques commemorating notable people in Jaguars athletic history. Keep walking around the concourse and you will find a trophy case, displays with South Alabama slogans, and mannequin displays showing the uniform combinations of the different Jaguar athletic programs.
When you enter the arena’s seating bowl you will see it is split into two levels with the top level having mostly red seats with some blue seats spelling out “USA”, the common abbreviation for the University of South Alabama. The end seats on the top level were tarped off when I visited. Meanwhile, the lower bowl of the arena has blue seats and contains the student section as well as the band.
The rafters of the arena show banners commemorating both the men’s and women’s basketball successes and a videoboard hangs over midcourt. The out-of-bounds area of the court is blue while the midcourt logo follows a trend of having the program’s logo overlaying an outline of the state.
Shoutout to the band, cheerleaders, and mascots SouthPaw and Miss Pawla for keeping the fans energized throughout the game.
While technically the South Alabama campus is located in the city of Mobile it is a bit of a drive from the tourist spots one would think of when imagining Alabama’s second largest city.
If you have the time to do so I would recommend heading to the USS Alabama Battleship for a tour. It was used in World War II and the park that surrounds it has a gift shop and an aircraft pavilion containing planes that were used in several wars.
For family trips the kids will love the Exploreum while Fort Conde and the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum are also worth checking out. Keep in mind if you are attending a South Alabama Jaguars basketball game you will likely be in Mobile during Mardi Gras season. Catch a parade in the first city to celebrate Mardi Gras.
Local eateries to try out include Dumbwaiter for Southern fare, Roosters for Latin American dishes, and Wentzell’s for seafood. Dauphin Street has several bars including The Haberdasher, Brickyard, and Hayley’s Bar. Lodging accommodations include Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, and Candlewood Suites.
The fans are not likely to fill the stands to the brim of the arena but the ones that do show up really get behind their Jaguars. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, their arena is a bit oversized for their current fanbase as the arena only gets full when a team like Auburn shows up. As previously mentioned, part of the upper deck is tarped off for Jaguars games.
The campus of the University of South Alabama is about a ten-minute drive from Interstate 65. From I-65 take exit 5A onto SpringHill Avenue before turning left on McGregor Avenue. Make a right on Old Shell Road and this will take you to the Mitchell Center on your right.
While parking is free the lot immediately adjacent to the arena is reserved for Season Ticket holders. There is a parking lot between the tennis courts and Shelby Hall that I would recommend parking in.
There is a path in the trees you can walk through to get to the South Entrance or you can walk north and pass by the old Jaguar Gym before taking a left and entering the Mitchell Center through the North entrance.
Once inside the arena, there are ample restrooms, the concourse is wide enough, and there will not be long lines at the concession stands.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets start at $10 for upper-level seats or $15 in the lower bowl for games between conference foes. If you pay $10 for a ticket, and buy a beer and a burger you will only pay $25 for yourself, $40 on a date, or $70 for a family of four. There are not many better deals than this in Division One college basketball!
The Waterman Globe is located in the Mitchell Center and is a piece of Mobile History. It does a full rotation once every 3 minutes and 50 seconds.
The Mitchell Center has become the destination for entertainment acts that want to perform in Mobile, Alabama. If you want to catch a concert in Mobile, chances are you are heading to the Mitchell Center.
The South Alabama Jaguars have a lot of untapped potential as of late. They have a facility that could potentially be an intimidating atmosphere if the team that played there was intimidating.