- David Welch
Stegeman Coliseum - Georgia Bulldogs
Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Stegeman Coliseum 100 Smith St Athens, GA 30605
Year Opened: 1964
Stegeman Coliseum – University of Georgia Bulldogs
Opened in 1963 as the Georgia Coliseum, the stadium was renamed after former Georgia basketball coach C. Sal Stegeman prior to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, where it was used for volleyball and rhythmic gymnastics.
Commonly referred to as “The Steg” by the University of Georgia faithful, the arena received more than $20 million in upgrades from 2010 to 2017.
The history of basketball at UGA has shown it can be difficult to sustain the momentum of success. With the hiring of Mike White as their new coach, Georgia looks to turn the corner in building the Bulldogs into a yearly contender in the SEC.
Food & Beverage 4
Concessions at Stegeman Coliseum are unique. First, there is no ordering – everything is set up as a grab-and-go, where fans just grab what they need and take it to the cashiers. The best surprise is the overall affordability of the concessions. While outside items, such as Chick-fil-A sandwiches and Papa John’s pizza are a bit more expensive, most of the main concession stand staples can be purchased for less than $6.
Concessions include the commonly found hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, popcorn, and candy, as well as the less common burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, and chicken fingers. While the quality of food is what would be expected, the prices definitely are not.
Beer is available and features Coors Light, Bud Light, and the locally brewed Creature Comforts with their popular IPA, Tropicalia.
Stegeman Coliseum is a cashless facility, so cards are the only payment method accepted.
Stegeman Coliseum is an example of an older facility receiving upgrades that have given it a whole new life. During a facility upgrade in 2011, the large roof overhang on the east and west sides of the stadium were enclosed with massive glass walls, making new main entry points.
The seating bowl creates both an interior and exterior horseshoe of a concourse. While it is possible to make it completely around the interior, it is a bit narrow. In addition, the exterior concourse is closed off to full circumnavigation.
On court festivities start around the 7-minute mark of the pregame countdown. The UGA pep-band, the Dance Dawgs, and the UGA cheerleaders take the court as the band kicks things off with “Hail to Georgia,” followed by the popular, “Goooooo Georgia Bulldogs.” Just prior to the team taking the floor, the UGA pom-squad leads fans in the spelling of Georgia, G-E-O-R-G-I-A, as they spell each letter with their pom-poms – at this point fans are worked up in anticipation of the Dawgs taking the floor. Led by cheerleaders with a large “Georgia G” flag and smaller flags spelling out Georgia, UGA takes the court to another round of “Hail to Georgia.” All the frivolity leads right up to the start of the game as in anticipation of the opening tip, fans build up with, “Gooooooooo, DAWGS, SIC-EM…WOOF-WOOF-WOOF!”
Throughout the game, Georgia does a great job at setting the stage for fans to remain entertained during breaks in the on-court action.
Stegeman Coliseum is surrounded by several of the UGA athletic facilities. The free parking garage and lot are just behind the right field wall of Georgia baseball’s Foley Field.
Fans looking to grab UGA gear will find a full selection at the campus bookstore, located across from football’s Sanford Stadium.
If staying in Athens overnight, the most convenient hotel is the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel, catty-corner from Stegeman Coliseum. There are also numerous hotels in and around downtown Athens.
Athens’ downtown district has many shops, restaurants, and bars that are just steps from the iconic University of Georgia arches; pre-game and post-game entertainment in the area is plentiful.
Fandom for UGA basketball is much like the age-old question, “What came first: the chicken or the egg?”. To a degree, it is hard to blame Georgia fans for taking a cautious approach to throwing their support fully behind the basketball team. Georgia has seen pockets of success, but it has not been sustainable.
However, the turnout of fans appears to be on the upswing with the hiring of Mike White, who has put student involvement at the forefront of building basketball at UGA. While there are a handful of passionate Georgia basketball fans, many are passive throughout the game. Even during the final 3 minutes of a tight game, fans needed encouragement to get on their feet and make some noise.
At the moment fan support might best be characterized as inconsistent – weekday games are lightly attended, while weekend games have seen several sellouts during conference play.
It is no secret that getting to Athens from the metro Atlanta area on a weekday can certainly test one’s patience. While Athens is just 70 miles from Atlanta, getting there for a weekday game typically takes two-and-a-half hours. The most direct route is via Interstate-85 to Georgia 316, which leads to Athens. Fans coming from the north on I-85 will have a bit less traffic coming through Jefferson. From the east, accessing Athens is most convenient on I-20 to US-441N.
Georgia offers free parking for their basketball games. While the Carlton Street Parking Deck is right across the street from the main entrance to Stegeman, that deck can take a while to get out of after the game. Parking is also available at Foley Field and the South Campus Parking Deck, but those are both a bit longer of a walk.
Return on Investment 4
Georgia offers tickets at very reasonable prices. Upper-level seats start at just $15, and when combined with free parking and the low cost of concessions, it is money well spent. UGA also offers combo packages of 3, 4, or 5 games, which makes tickets even more affordable.
If looking for premium games or tickets close to the action, plan well ahead to avoid sell outs.
In one of the biggest changes coming to Stegeman Coliseum for the 2023-24 season is that student seating will be moved closer to the court to create more of a home-court atmosphere. While fans and alumni add to the environment, it is truly the students who set the tone as to how uncomfortable a place it can be for opponents to play.
Around the concourse, Georgia does a great job featuring the history of not just their basketball programs, but also their extremely popular gymnastics team, the Gym Dawgs.
Weekend games also features a handful of activities for younger Dawgs fans just after entering the arena; balloon artists and face painting is available for children.
Mascots Hairy Dawg and Spike are active with both fans and on court events throughout the game.
Dawgs fans might be interested in touring the nearby Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall; the Butts-Mehre building is known as the hub of UGA athletics, and provides a look at its history at Georgia. Tours are available Monday – Friday from 8am-to-5pm.
Georgia basketball has all the makings of what could be one of the top basketball experiences in the Southeastern Conference – all they are missing is consistency in the win column.
The diehards are doing their part, but just need more fans to follow their lead in order to make basketball at “The Steg” one of the most uncomfortable places for visiting teams in the SEC.