- David Welch
Pete Hanna Center – Samford Bulldogs
Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Pete Hanna Center 800 Lakeshore Dr Homewood, AL 35229
Year Opened: 2007
Pete Hanna Center – Samford University Bulldogs
Just over Red Mountain in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood, Alabama sits the campus of Samford University, home of the Bulldogs. Members of the Southern Conference, the Bulldogs opened the nearly 5,000-seat Pete Hanna Center in 2007. It has served as the home for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, along with the school’s volleyball program.
Food & Beverage 2
The Hanna Center features a concessions stand in the main lobby of the arena. While most menu items are priced $4 or less, choices are pretty limited – the only items of substance are hot dogs and nachos; most other choices are snack foods. A second concessions area is set up within the concourse of the gymnasium and offers mostly candy and similar snacks. Coke products and the fan favorite, Dippin’ Dots are also available here. The university has chosen not to sell alcoholic beverages on the Samford campus.
While the food is well priced and the quality of what is served is fine, it just seems as if there is a void in the choices that could be offered, that leave you wanting more to choose from.
The Pete Hanna Center is tucked amongst Samford’s other athletic facilities. The arena’s brick exterior is adorned with large columns framing the entryways and multiple dormers along its roofline. It is truly a beautiful building, and anyone not knowing what they were looking for could easily assume it was one of the many academic buildings on campus.
Fans pass through the lobby of the Pete Hana Center into the playing area through a wide concourse that encircles the top of the seating area. Each side of the gymnasium has an upper section of seating, but those are typically not used for games here.
General admission seats make up most of the endline seating at the home end of the floor and a small section near the visiting bench. While these areas tend to have views that are a bit obstructed, seats in the corners provide terrific views of unfolding plays. There are also three sections of reserved seating at the home end and at half court, which have fantastic views of the action. What really adds to the college atmosphere though is that nearly a quarter of the seats are reserved for students – having so many students creates an atmosphere that is truly a home court advantage.
Samford’s hilly campus is directly off one of the main thoroughfares through Homewood. The university serves as a buffer of sorts between State Route 149 and the surrounding residential neighborhoods. Homewood is full of beautiful neighborhoods and seemingly endless miles of running and walking trails.
Samford is less than 4 miles from Homewood’s city center, which has a well-rounded choice of restaurants and shops. Two of the culinary highlights of Homewood include Big Bad Breakfast and SoHo Social. Visitors looking for legendary Birmingham barbecue can find Dreamland BBQ just 5 miles away.
There are plenty of attractions within a 15-minute drive of the Samford campus. Along with the miles of trails in the area, the Vulcan Monument sits atop Red Mountain and overlooks Birmingham. The Birmingham Zoo is also conveniently located near the Samford campus. Sport fans can easily pair a visit to Samford with a basketball game at the nearby University of Alabama-Birmingham, take in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl , or check out the G-League’s Birmingham Squadron. In Pelham, just south of Birmingham, there are also the Birmingham Bulls of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
Fans looking to make an overnight or extended stay near the Samford campus can find a Courtyard by Marriott less than 2 miles away. Also, a bit further but still in the area, is Aloft in the Homewood city center.
Samford has done a fantastic job drawing student to games – more than a quarter of the arena’s main seating area is dedicated to the student body. The student section is close to full when classes are in session and students are on campus, and the level of student involvement can provide an almost intimidating home court advantage for the visiting team, which certainly gives the Bulldogs an edge. There is just something about nearly a thousand students, many wearing matching red t-shirts, that makes a game at Samford a special experience.
Support from the general fanbase seems to be about what would be expected from most decent basketball teams. The seating is nearly full but does have some patches of empty seating scattered around the arena.
Getting to Homewood and Samford from the north or south on Interstate 65 provides a direct route to campus. Those coming from the east or west on I-20 must navigate a couple of bypasses before reaching the area. It is not necessarily difficult; it’s just not a straight shot off the interstate.
Upon arriving at Samford, parking is free at any of the several parking lots in the athletics neighborhood of campus. Parking is not directly at the arena but is just a short walk away.
Fans enter through the upper lobby of the Pete Hana Center, and make their way downstairs to the main lobby to have their tickets scanned. All tickets are digital, and walkups must be purchased online. Once in the arena, a wide concourse encircles the seating area, and provides plenty of room for fans to find their section. Each side of the gymnasium has an upper section of seating, but that is typically not used for games here.
Following the game, getting back to Highway 149 might need a bit of patience – there is just one entry/exit point to the Samford campus that is in use. This can make getting out of the parking lot a bit tricky.
Return on Investment 4
With free parking and tickets starting at $14, it would be difficult to find a better deal in college basketball. While the food choices are a bit limited, the prices for most of the items are very affordable.
The university offers ticket packages for kids that highly incentivizes parents to bring their children to all Samford sporting events. Through the “Bulldog Buddies” program, for $50 kids have access to all Samford athletic events. For adults, “Bucky Bundles” (named for head coach Bucky McMillan) offer tickets at a 25% discount for those looking to buy just weekend or conference games.
Overall, prices at Samford are very reasonable, especially if you are from the area and want to take in multiple games.
The Pete Hanna Center houses the Samford Athletics Hall of Fame. Located on the second level of the main entry point into the arena, the hall of fame is a well-designed section that prominently features the latest induction class, shares the history of athletics at Samford, and recognizes past inductees.
Not enough can be said regarding the ticket deals Samford offers; it is evident that the main goal is to get fans in the stands. Between these fan friendly ticket prices and the free parking, Samford is certainly looking to build a fanbase simply by making their games accessible to all.
Everything about going to a basketball game at Samford is a positive experience, from the beautiful campus to the affordability of tickets and expenses associated with going to a game, to the atmosphere the students create. Couple these factors with the fun, up-tempo and high scoring style of basketball Samford plays, and it all comes together as a great outing.