- David Welch
Pete Mathews Coliseum – Jacksonville State Gamecocks
Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Pete Mathews Coliseum 700 Pelham Rd Jacksonville, AL 36265
Jacksonville State Gamecocks website
Year Opened: 1974
Pete Mathews Coliseum – Jacksonville State Gamecocks
Just outside of Talladega National Forest in northeastern Alabama is Jacksonville State University, home of the Gamecocks. Known more for the strength of its football program, JSU has been one of the more difficult places for visiting teams to escape with a win, averaging 10 wins at home per season.
Currently members of the Atlantic Sun conference, the Gamecocks will be transitioning to Conference USA to start the 2023 season, having moved to the A-Sun from the Ohio Valley Conference just two years ago.
Food & Beverage 2
There is a small concession stand in the main lobby of Pete Mathews Coliseum. It offers a bit of a limited menu, but what you would expect to find at most arenas. Prices are reasonable and entice fans to go back for seconds.
Hot dogs and nachos are just $4. Most other options, such as snacks and candy, range from $2 to $3. There is also a bottomless popcorn for $10, but without a bottomless soft drink option, it might be tough to handle. It is a great option if sharing with the family however.
Beverages include a full line of Coke products, Gold Peak bottled tea, and bottled water. Beer and alcoholic beverages are not available.
From the outside, the initial impression of Pete Mathews Coliseum is that it might be dated inside, but upon entering the gymnasium, it has a rather modern feel to it.
One of the initial features noticed upon entering the playing area are the curved video boards in opposite corners of the gym, while time and score, along with player foul and running score totals, are available in the other corners. A smaller, four-sided scoreboard hangs over center court.
The seating inside Pete Mathews Coliseum plays well off the school’s red, gray, and black color scheme. The seats on the sidelines all have seat backs, while seating at the ends of the court is more bleacher style and lacks back support.
The game atmosphere at Jacksonville State is a very traditional experience. While many schools have put more of an emphasis on pre-recorded music, diminishing the role the pep-band plays, the Gamecocks put their pep-band right in the forefront, and they are a major part of the game’s entertainment. The band, dance squad, and cheerleaders put on quite the performance during breaks in the action.
Jacksonville was listed as being in one of the most rural areas in Alabama. Despite being removed from the bright city lights, it doesn’t mean there is nothing to do in the area. Those who enjoy outdoor activities very well could find the Choccolocco Mountain area of interest, while fans of unique Americana can find the World’s Largest Office Chair in neighboring Anniston, Alabama.
Small-town restaurants often have incredible food – Cooter Brown’s Rib Shack has been recognized for its ribs, while The Rocket has been serving its signature hamburgers here since 1958, and is popular with both tourists and locals.
If making an overnight stop in Jacksonville, the Red Roof Inn and Hampton Inn can be found on the south side of the city, heading toward Anniston.
While Jacksonville itself might not offer a ton of entertainment options in the immediate vicinity, the local area does offer a lot for nature enthusiasts and those who might enjoy a slower pace of life.
An arena does not need 10,000 fans to make it a great environment for basketball; frequently the great gyms are created by the passion and enthusiasm of their fanbase.
Jacksonville State might have one of the smaller student sections in the country, but it also might be one of the most intense. Students and band members fill up a small section of the bleachers at the visitor’s end of the court, and without a doubt make things difficult for the visiting team. While student attendance might be small, they do have a significant impact on the game.
Getting to Jacksonville, Alabama is not necessarily an easy endeavor – most fans coming from out of town would access Jacksonville from the east or west on I-20, while coming from the north or south involves a lot more state routes and backroads.
Once at Jacksonville State, Pete Mathews Coliseum is easily accessible in the northern area of campus. Parking is available on the front side of the arena. Once inside, fans filter in through the front entrance, which is the only access point. Narrow hallways run behind the sideline seating area to the bleachers at the far end. These hallways can be a bit congested during halftime, when many fans are all trying to go to the concession stands or restrooms at the same time.
Return on Investment 4
Prices for Jacksonville State basketball games are in line with other conference schools. Ticket prices might be just a touch high, but when considering the free parking and the low price of concessions, the overall prices are consistent with the rest of the conference, or even a touch lower.
Bleacher seats at the end of the court run $10, while reserved seating along the sidelines is between $15 and $25 – the $10 tickets are fine as long as you are seated high enough to not have your view blocked by the basket.
Right away, not enough can be said about the role the Jacksonville State pep-band plays in the overall experience of a game at “The Pete”. It is not just the music, but the overall atmosphere they create during game action, that feeds into the experience.
The hallways of The Pete are plastered with murals of the past successes of the Jacksonville State basketball programs, as well as the other prominent athletic achievements of JSU athletes. The main lobby area displays championship trophies the men’s and women's programs have earned over the years.
JSU’s mascot, Cocky the Gamecock, is highly active and animated. He makes his way around the stands, interacting with fans in a playful manner throughout the game.
While Jacksonville, Alabama might not have all the glitz and glamor of larger schools in college basketball, what they do have is one passionate fanbase that loves their team. This passion spills over into the grit the Gamecocks play with on the court.
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.