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  • Lance Sutehall

Pete Mathews Coliseum – Jacksonville State Gamecocks

Photos by David Welch and Lance Sutehall, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Pete Mathews Coliseum 775 Park Ave NW 735 Jacksonville, AL 36265

Year Opened: 1974

Capacity: 2,300


Fear The Beak!

Roughly halfway between Birmingham, AL, and Atlanta, GA lies the campus of Jacksonville State University, a school in northeast Alabama with an enrollment of over 9,000 students. The athletic teams are known as the Gamecocks and while football gets the most notoriety, the basketball program is also a proud program with a Division 2 national championship in 1985 as well as a couple of March Madness appearances in 2017 and 2022.

The Gamecocks moved to Conference USA in 2023 after being in the Ohio Valley Conference for many years as well as a brief stint in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Gamecocks basketball program hopes the move to C-USA will improve their prestige as well as make them more competitive.

Food & Beverage 2

The food options at the Pete only include stadium basics such as hot dogs ($4), chili dogs ($5) nachos ($4), chips ($2), popcorn ($3), candy ($2), peanuts ($3), and pretzels ($4). Beverages include Coke branded 32oz. soft drinks ($4), Gold Peak sweet tea ($3), and Dasani bottled water ($3). Alcohol is not sold at the venue and the concession stand is cashless. I would recommend stopping by a local restaurant before or after the game rather than getting any concessions.

Atmosphere 4

When entering the main entrance of the Pete you walk into a lobby with a wall showing a mural about the history of the Gamecocks basketball program and a trophy case containing the 2017 OVC Championship trophy. The hallways leading to the seating area have images of Gamecock players and a picture of the Gamecocks' appearance in the 2022 tournament.

The seating areas by each sideline only have 16 rows total so a seat in the last row is relatively close to the court. The first 12 rows are chairback seats while the last 4 rows and each baseline section is bleacher seating. One baseline is reserved for the band and student section. 

There is a lot of red in the venue due to the fact that the Gamecocks' primary color is red. The out-of-bounds area on the basketball court is red, the scoreboard that hangs over the midcourt line is red, and most of the seats are red. Two of the corners have a classic scoreboard while the other two corners have video boards. 

I want to give a shout-out to the pep band for keeping the energy up throughout the game. They had chants reminiscent of European soccer matches going, their music was loud, and they gave the Pete an intimidating atmosphere. The cheerleaders also did their part and Cocky the Gamecocks mascot made sure everybody had a great time.

Neighborhood 3

Jacksonville, Alabama is a very beautiful town to visit if you are looking to get a bit off the interstate. If you are in Jacksonville in the evening take a short drive up Mountain Street to the Chimney Peak Lookout Tower to see amazing views of the area.

For dining in the area, I would recommend Cooter Brown’s Rib Shack, The Rocket for burgers, or Yamato Japanese Steakhouse for Hibachi. If you are staying in the area overnight Jacksonville lodging is limited and I do not recommend staying in Anniston. Instead, I would find a hotel in Oxford which is right next to the interstate and about a half hour south of Jacksonville.

Fans 4

Jacksonville State fans are passionate about their Gamecocks and while it’s not the largest fanbase it is certainly an intense one. The Pep Band does an amazing job at leading the charge in making life difficult for any opponent that challenges the Gamecocks. 

Access 3

From I-20 you would get off on exit 185 and drive north for about a half hour to the campus of Jacksonville State University. Turn left onto Nisbet Street and the Pete Mathews Coliseum will be on your left with a large and free parking lot. If you are coming from the north you are taking some backroads to Jacksonville State. Use a GPS to make your way to the Pete.

Once inside there are enough restrooms but the concession stands are only on one side of the arena and the hallways get cramped during halftime.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets start at $10 for General Admission seats by the baselines or the top rows of the sidelines. You could upgrade to a reserved seat for just $13 which I think is a great deal. With free parking and $10 for a meal combo, you are only dropping $20 for decent D1 basketball and a great Pep Band.

Extras 3

In the lobby is a mural about the band Alabama (Randy Owen, the lead singer, attended JSU). They performed a concert for JSU after a tornado in 2018 ripped through the heart of the campus damaging the roof of the arena and destroying the business building. 

The lobby contains murals commemorating other Gamecock sports achievements, not just basketball.

There is a banner in the rafters commemorating Danny Willett’s Masters golf tournament win in 2016.

Final Thoughts

Jacksonville, Alabama is a beautiful college town that is a bit out of the way. Jacksonville State has come a long way on both the academic and athletic sides. I have a feeling you are going to keep healing about Jacksonville State University for a lot of years to come. Fear the beak!

While Jacksonville State’s game presentation is a more traditional experience than most schools are putting on today, there are just enough of the bells and whistles to keep fans from having a feeling that the evolution of the game experience has passed them by.

Anyone going to a game at The Pete will be hard-pressed to say that it isn’t an exciting college basketball experience.

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