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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Siegel Center – VCU Rams

Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14

E.J. Wade Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center 1200 W Broad St Richmond, VA 23284

Year Opened: 1999

Capacity: 7,500


RAM Tough

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) opened in 1838. It is the largest college/university in the state of Virginia with a student body of 28,000 students. The school offers 64 different bachelor’s degrees, 74 master’s degree programs, and 41 doctorate degree programs. It has two campuses in the city of Richmond, VA. It is also the largest employer in Richmond, even surpassing the number of state employees in the state capitol.

The athletic team at VCU is known as the Rams. The most successful program in Ram's lineup of teams is the men’s basketball team. The men’s basketball team calls the E.J. Wade Arena at the Siegel Center its home court (we will use the Seigel Center name for brevity’s sake… students just refer to it as “the Stu”). The roundball Rams have won 85% of their home games since the Center opened in 1999. The arena at the Siegel Center holds 7,500 fans in its basketball configuration. The Siegel Center is named for Richmond businessman Stuart Siegel, who contributed more than $7 million towards the facility’s construction.

Food & Beverage 5

There are six concession stands spread equally throughout the Seigel Center concourse level. A larger than usual number of food items is carried at each stand. Entrees include BBQ pork sandwiches ($9), Nathan’s hot dogs ($6), hamburgers ($8), Papa John’s Pizza ($9), chicken sandwiches ($9), and nachos w/cheese ($8). The snack selection is also larger than we typically see, including popcorn ($5), candy ($5), pretzels ($5), kettle corn ($8), and Dippin’ Dots ice cream ($5).

Beverages sold at the Seigel Center include water ($4), Pepsi brand sodas ($6), canned brand beers ($9), canned craft beers ($12), and canned cocktails ($8).

We found that the number of stands is enough to keep the lines short, except at halftime.

Atmosphere 4

Even though the Seigel Center was built nearly 25 years ago, it has definitely kept up with the times, thanks to multiple renovations over the years. The inside of the arena is predominately decked out in the black and gold colors of VCU. There are a number of exhibits on the walls describing the Ram's Cinderella season when they reached the Final Four, as well as salutes to star players from past years.

The seats in the arena are very comfortable and come with cup holders. The seating bowl is quite steep, providing you with a close-up look at the action, no matter where your seats are in the arena. The electronics package is also very impressive. There is a four-sided center-hung scoreboard, with each panel measuring 11.5’ X 15.5 feet. It constantly updates the stats of each player on the court, as well as information on upcoming events. There are also panel boards above the ends of the court with game information as well. The sound system is excellent, as it must be heard over the noise generated by the crowd, but it is also used for a number of concerts throughout the year. A 360-degree ribbon board also provides information throughout the game.

Neighborhood 4

The Seigel Center and a majority of the VCU campus are in the Fan District in Downtown Richmond. It is named the Fan District because the pattern of the streets spread from narrow to wide in the shape of a fan.

Richmond is a city with a long history, both as a state capitol and due to its role as the capital of the Confederacy. Like most state capitols, there are several museums in the city. Both the Virginia Museum of History and Culture and the Institute for Contemporary Art are within a few blocks of the Siegel Center. The streets surrounding the Seigel Center are filled with homes that are more than 100 years old.

The area is also filled with businesses that service the needs of the students at VCU. This includes coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. The Village Café has been around for decades and is still very popular amongst the students and longtime locals in the area.

The Holiday Inn Express Downtown Richmond offers the closest accommodations for games at the Siegel Center.

Fans 5

The gameday experience at Siegel Center is loud and full of energy. VCU does not have a football program, so basketball games are the premier sports event on campus. It is the norm that you will have a full house for every game throughout the season.

The loudest and most energetic section of the crowd is by far the student section, which is known as the Rowdy Rams ( the Rowdy Rams have won the Naismith Award for Student Section of the Year on multiple occasions). VCU students get free admission to every game, so there is always a huge turnout. The Rowdy Rams work very closely with the VCU cheerleading squad, the VCU Peppa pep band, the Gold Rush dance squad, and last but not least… Rodney the Ram, is VCU’s terrific mascot.

Mascot Dancing with VCU Cheer Team, Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

The remainder of the stands will typically consist of VCU alums (40% of VCU alumni still live in Richmond) and Richmond area residents who see VCU games as their best area sports event during the winter months.

There are very few seats allotted for the visiting team.

Access 4

The Siegel Center is easily accessible from I-95/I-64 (these two interstates are merged as they pass through Richmond.

From the north or west: Take exit 76B (Belvidere Street) Turn left off the exit ramp onto Leigh Street. Turn right at Belvidere Street. Turn right at Broad Street. The Seigel Center will be on your right after the second traffic light.

From the south or east: Take exit 76A (Chamberlayne). Get in the left turn lane at end of the ramp. Turn left at the next traffic light. After crossing the bridge bear right onto St. Peter’s Street. At the stop sign turn right onto Leigh Street. Turn left at the next stop light on to Belvidere Street. Turn right at Broad Street. The Seigel Center will be on your right after the second traffic light.

There are four parking garages within a block of the Seigel Center.

Once you arrive at the Seigel Center, the access is excellent. There are five main entrances into the arena, and doors open one hour prior to tipoff. Inside, the arena has 19 restrooms (nine men’s rooms and ten ladies’ rooms) The concession stands are spaced equally around the concourse level of the arena.

Return on Investment 4

Ticket prices range from $30 - $35 depending on where you want to sit in the arena. However, keep in mind that VCU has a very large season ticket base, and games are also sold out on a regular basis… so buy your tickets well in advance of the game you plan to attend! The ticket prices are broken down by sideline seats ($35) or end-line seats ($30).

Parking at one of the VCU garages is $10. The concession prices at the Seigel Center are.

Extras 3

The Rams men’s basketball program has earned a significant number of achievements over the years. They include 2011 Final Four, eight NCAA Tournament appearances, one CAA Tournament Championship, one Atlantic 10 Regular Season Championship, and one Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship.

The VCU Basketball Development Center is located just a block north of the Siegel Center. This facility offers practice courts, strengthening and conditioning facilities, training rooms, and classrooms. The Player Development Center is designed around making each player the best they can be, in the classroom and on the basketball court. It is also a major recruiting tool for VCU.

“The Stu” also hosts VCU women’s basketball, both men’s and women’s volleyball, and the Virginia State High School Basketball Tournament Finals. It is also used for non-sports activities such as concerts and VCU graduation ceremonies.

Final Thoughts

The Virginia Commonwealth University basketball team has proven that their trip to the Final Four in 2011 was no fluke, as the Rams are perennial champions in each of the conferences they have played in over the past decade. The VCU student body and the fans in Richmond know a good thing when they see it and have packed the Seigel Center for every game over the last 10 years. It will be no surprise when you hear VCU’s name on Selection Sunday.

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