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  • James Clotfelter

Stegeman Coliseum - Georgia Bulldogs

Photos by James Clotfelter and David Welch, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Stegeman Coliseum 100 Smith St Athens, GA 30602

Year Opened: 1964

Capacity: 10,523


Stegeman Coliseum – University of Georgia Bulldogs

Originally constructed in 1964, the 10,000 seat Stegeman Coliseum has served as home to both UGA basketball teams, volleyball, and gymnastics. As it has undergone many renovations, the Steg now holds the modern amenities of new arenas, while preserving the history it has seen throughout its years.

The University of Georgia basketball teams play1 in the D1 SEC (Southeastern Conference).

Food & Beverage 3

Stegeman offers all the basics you would expect at a stadium, and not much more. All concession standings are grab-and-go with a cashless checkout at the end of the line. To give you an idea of what basic offerings include, expect hot dogs, BBQ sandwiches, popcorn, Chick-fil-A, etc. In terms of drinks, Coca-Cola products are served in addition to basic beer and seltzer options. The offerings at Stegeman may not be as crazy and unique as other venues, but they provide reliable quality in what they do offer at a reasonable price mark.

Atmosphere 4

The University of Georgia event staff does a great job of creating a noteworthy game day experience for its fans. Stegeman itself has been consistently renovated to keep its modern appeal. The Athletic Department has even described a "phased approach" to keep renovations frequent. 

Stegeman is broken up into two levels of seating (sections A-Z and sections AA-YY) with one concourse in between the two levels. At the east and west entrances is a glass exterior to allow the concourse to have an open sense with the natural light entering the arena. Here is where the concourse is at its widest and you can find merchandise, food, restrooms, free gameday programs, and frequent promotional giveaways. As you make the circuit around the concourse you will notice that the walls are embedded with UGA Athletic history. Walking around this part of the concourse is like that of strolling through a museum. Some walls serve as a timeline describing different historical moments or players from a variety of sports. Then others house shelves with trophies, memorabilia, or a team’s championship wall with the years a conference or national championship was won. 

The interior of the stadium is essentially a typical separated bowl you would find at many college basketball arenas; however, the bowl does not wrap all the way around on the second level, rather it wraps three-quarters of the court. The part of the upper bowl that is not connected to the other side harbors a mural of UGA legends and a small scoreboard displaying player stats. This design allows for a very intimate and thus loud experience at the coliseum. The main scoreboard is a 360-video board that hangs above the center court. It is mainly used for the score, replays, promotions, and crowd shots. All seats are chairbacks with the lower bowl being padded, and the upper being plastic. Being a medium-sized venue, no seat is a bad seat, so I’d advise you not to overspend on a ticket close to the court, as the sightlines from the AA-YY are more than adequate as you are still not far from the court. 

Before tipoff, a red LED light show is triggered for player introductions, accompanied by a pregame video, loud music, and smoke. After a tip-off, the promotions team runs numerous giveaways while the band leads most of the school's traditions. And last but certainly not least, late in the second half the coliseum’s lights will turn down and the crowd will hold up their phone flashlights to rally the team for the final stretch. 

Neighborhood 5

Being the oldest public university in the United States, The University of Georgia is renowned for having one of the most beautiful and historic campuses in the nation. North campus is adjacent to downtown Athens, which is the location of the arch, and the oldest buildings the campus holds. As you move south you will come across major attractions of the campus like Sanford Stadium, the bookstore, the student center, and finally Stegeman Coliseum. If you plan on grabbing a pregame bite while on campus, Tate Student Center holds a Chick-fil-A, Panda Express, and Barberitos. 

The classic city has numerous offerings for pre and post-game spots. Whether you are looking for a drink, a bite, or post-game nightlife, there are numerous options in Downtown Athens. Downtown is very calm during the daytime, meaning this will be the best time to stroll through if it’s your first time in Athens as you will be sure to find a pregame option, like El Paso, The Grill, and Taqueria Tusanmi. Arriving early will allow you to swing in the many shops downtown has to offer. After the game, if the college nightlife crowd is something you look to avoid, some options that are not immediately downtown are Locos Grill and Pub, the Blind Pig Tavern, the Taco Stand, and a staple of the state of Georgia, Waffle House. However, if you are looking for a night out after the game, look no further than heading downtown as Athens has the largest number of bars per capita in the United States. 

Hotels should not book up too quickly in Athens for a basketball game, but if the game you are attending is during the same weekend as a football game, it would be best to book early. If you are lucky, there is a hotel/convention center on campus that is right across the street from Stegeman, which would be the ideal hotel for basketball visitors. 

Fans 3

As a Georgia local and a current UGA student, the relationship between the basketball program and the fanbase is complicated, to say the least. With constantly being bottom four in SEC play, and never showing much promise of reaching the tournament, dawgs fans usually do not have very much to cheer about. However, under the Mike White era, there are signs that times are changing in Athens. While it has not been a successful SEC season, the Dawgs have shown growth, and the fans have been acknowledging the growth with their attendance. Fans are also excited about five-star recruit Asa Newell, and Jacob Wilkins, son of Dominique, joining the Dawgs next season in hopes of winning ways. 

Student turnout has increased to an all-time high, and even general attendance is climbing. Pretty much every conference game has been filled to the brim, and when the Steg is filled it can be a loud building to play in. The Athens faithful is interactive with the chants, songs, and traditions that are held at UGA basketball games. Dawgs fans are quick to get into the game itself and want to create that intimidating college atmosphere, but there is a big difference in noise levels when the team is winning, and when they are losing. As for non-conference games, attendance is prone to being sparse in the early months.  

This new era of Georgia basketball is expected to bring wins to the fans, and I will be excited to see how difficult the Steg is to play at night in and night out when the dawgs are rolling. 

Access 4

Getting to, from, and out of Stegeman is a breeze. The university opens up its parking decks for free during basketball games, the best parking deck being the south deck lot. And unlike the 90,000+ that are in town for a football game, Stegeman only holds 10,000, so the roads are much easier to navigate traffic-wise when comparing them to a football game. There are multiple gates located at every end of the arena, so getting in is almost always a breeze. The UGA clear bag policy is in effect at all athletic events and information on the regulations can be found on their website. 

There is one shared concourse by both levels of seating, and it is wide enough to support the crowd of a game. The bathrooms are plentiful, and the lines for concessions move quickly as they are grab-and-go lines. However, everything in Stegeman is cash only. There is a box office outside, but it is recommended to purchase your tickets in advance on your phone.

Return on Investment 4

Unlike the UGA football experience, the UGA basketball experience won’t make the wallet cry. Single-game tickets start from $5-$15 depending on the game in question, and the resale market on the “TickPick” app can get even lower. Every fan receives a program on entry, and Stegeman holds many game-by-game promotional nights/giveaways during the season, so be on the lookout. The concession prices are reasonable, as basic items like hot dogs cost $2.50 and cheeseburgers are $5. Add free parking on top of that and there is a relatively inexpensive night out.

Extras 2

The Promotional team at Stagman deserves a little recognition for the effort they give to the fan experience. They host many giveaways during the game and many creative promotional nights. The history being displayed in the concourse is certainly something that stands out as unique to Stegeman.

Final Thoughts

Stegeman houses SEC basketball for a reasonable price and offers a quality fan experience that you won't regret. It is far from a place like Allen Fieldhouse, but given the opportunity, Stegeman is well worth the visit.

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