TD Arena - Charleston Cougars
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
TD Arena 301 Meeting Street Charleston, SC 29401
Year Opened: 2008
The Cougars Court
The College of Charleston is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the country, as it was founded in 1770 and chartered in 1785. It is the oldest college south of Virginia and the 13th oldest school in the U.S. Today it is a thriving downtown Charleston mainstay, with a student body of 11,500.
The basketball program’s history at the College of Charleston is also lengthy, as the game has been played at the school since 1898. Today the Cougars are members of the Colonial Athletic Association and are one of the more successful small colleges in Division I basketball. Since 1983 they have had 20 seasons with 20 wins or more. They have made five NCAA appearances and five NIT appearances. Most recently the team won the Colonial Athletic League championship in 2018. The team has been blessed with some terrific coaches over the years, including John Kresse and former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins.
The home of the Cougars is the TD Arena on Charleston’s famous Meeting Street. It opened in 2008 and seats 5,100 in its basketball configuration. It serves as the home for both the men’s and women’s basketball programs and the volleyball program as well. The arena’s exterior is constructed of brick and conforms to the very strict building appearance codes enforced by the Charleston Architectural Design Commission. It fits in very well with the surrounding structures on Meeting Street.
Food & Beverage 4
The TD Arena is serviced by four concession stands. These include Chick-fil-A, Home Team BBQ, and two general concession stands. Home Team BBQ offers pulled pork sandwiches ($8), beef brisket ($10), and six-piece wings ($8). They also sell premium beers ($6), domestic beers ($5), and wine ($7). Chick-Fil-A offers grilled chicken sandwiches ($5) and iced tea ($4). The general concession stand has the broadest selection as they offer pizza ($5), nachos ($6), hot dogs ($4), hamburgers ($5), pretzels ($4), popcorn ($3), chips ($2) and cotton candy ($3). Beverages include Coca-Cola brand products ($3), water ($4), and coffee ($3).
The exterior may conform to the Charleston Historic District standards, but once inside you will immediately notice how contemporary the facility is. The entry lobby is two stories tall and serves as both a reception area and a ticketing area. Once upstairs, you will notice the arena offers a two-level seating bowl with all concourses open to the court. The arena features seat-back seating throughout the facility.
Before you head to your seats, check out the full-sized team store just inside the seating bowl area. It is the size of a store you would expect to see in a mall. As you circle the concourse you will see full-sized displays covering every sport played at the College of Charleston. Looking up, you will notice the many championship banners hanging from the rafters.
The playing surface features the maroon block “C” logo of the College of Charleston and the name of John Kresse on the court. Coach Kresse was the basketball coach at the college for 18 years and has the most wins of any coach at the school. The arena features video boards/scoreboards in each corner of the seating bowl.
It is readily apparent that basketball is the favorite sport at the school, as it has no football team and nearly every game is a sellout.
The TD Arena and the College of Charleston are located within the Charleston Historic District. This is ground zero for a great visit to one of the top tourist destinations in the country. The arena is just a few blocks from popular attractions such as the Old City Market, the South Carolina Aquarium, and the Battery. Marion Square is always hosting festivals and is home to a weekend farmer’s market in season.
Foodies have their choice of Carolina Ale House, Star Rooftop, and Halls Chophouse to sample some of Charleston’s finest dishes. These are several lodging options near the TD Arena, which can save you the cost and hassle of parking at the games.
The Cougars extraordinary successful record on the court has earned them a very large and supportive fan base. Many of Charleston’s top business leaders attended C of C and you will see them courtside before the game. The student body always turns out in large numbers, as the facility is on-campus and their admission is free with their student activity fee.
The student body sits behind one of the baskets at the end of the court and does everything it can to disrupt the opposition. Leading their cheers is a large squad of cheerleaders and dance squad members, in addition to the pep band. Clyde the Cougar can be seen making the rounds of the gym and keeping everyone energized throughout the game.
Helping to keep the fans energized is the school’s pep band, known as the Chucktown Sound, and Clyde the Cougar, the school’s mascot.
Finding your way to the TD Arena is relatively simple, as Meeting Street is one of the main thoroughfares in downtown Charleston. It can easily be accessed via Highway 17 or I-26. From I-26: Take I-26 East until it ends in downtown Charleston. Take exit 221-B and follow the signs to Meeting Street. Bear right on Meeting Street. TD Arena will be on your right just after the Calhoun Street intersection. From Highway 17: Cross the Ashley River Bridge into Charleston. Bear right on Lockwood Boulevard, staying in the left-hand lane. At the first light, you will turn left onto Calhoun Street. TD Arena is at the corner of Calhoun and Meeting Street.
Once you are at the arena comes the hard part. Parking in downtown Charleston is at a premium. There are several parking garages located nearby, but most likely they will be charging special event prices on the nights there are home games. Our advice is to go into Charleston during the day and enjoy the many historical homes and sights of the city.
Charleston is a foodie city, so have dinner at one of the fine eateries located in the downtown area. Park in a lot that offers a low early bird rate and makes a day of it. Charleston is a very walkable city and TD Arena is very easy to get to from anywhere in the downtown area.
Return on Investment 3
Seating prices at the TD Arena are determined by the location of your seats. Lower-level courtside seats are $40, lower-level end zone seats go for $20, upper-level side court seats are $20 and upper-level end zone seats are priced at $15. Concessions offer a broad set of foods at reasonable prices. The costliest element of attending a Cougars game is the parking. Being in the Historic District means you are competing with tourists for a parking space. As a result, expect to pay $20 or more to park near the arena on game nights.
The court at TD Arena is named for John Kresse, the winningest coach in College of Charleston history. He won 560 games at the school and led the Cougars to 4 NCAA Tournaments and 3 NIT appearances.
The TD Arena hosted the memorial service for the victims of the Emanuel AME church shootings. The church is located just a few blocks from the arena.
The campus of the College of Charleston looks like no other campus you have seen. It primarily consists of houses that have been repurposed into academic buildings. The campus stretches for several blocks in downtown Charleston, with a brick-paved plaza replacing what used to be streets and tying the campus together. The school has been recognized both locally and nationally for its historic preservation efforts. There are self-guided, and student-led tours of the campus daily.
The College of Charleston has a long and storied history of success in basketball. As a result, it plays in one of the finest arenas you will find at a small school at the Division I level. TD Arena is first-class in every way, and it is easy to see why players being recruited by the school are blown away when they see the facilities. This bodes well for a continuation of the 20-plus wins seasons the school has enjoyed for many years.