- Lloyd Brown
Tiger Arena – Savannah State Tigers
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Tiger Arena 3219 College St Savannah, GA 31404
Year Opened: 2000
The Coastal Cats of Savannah State
Note: Savannah State Athletics have moved to the NCAA Div 2 level.
Savannah State University is one of oldest Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBU) in the country, as it opened its doors in 1890. Today its campus in the Midtown neighborhood of Savannah is home to a student body of 4,900 students. The largest majors at Savannah State are in the areas of Business Administration, Liberal Arts, and Science and Technology. Due to its location on the Georgia coast, it also offers programming in Marine Biology and certification classes for personnel who will be working in the Homeland Security field.
The Tiger athletic programs play at the NCAA Division I level in the MEAC conference. The basketball program calls the Tiger Arena its home court, opened in 2000 with a capacity of 5,000. It is located on campus within the athletic complex. The arena is also the home of the Savannah State University Sports Hall of Fame.
Savannah State is known to take on a very challenging schedule in its athletic programs. They are not afraid to take on major schools from the power conferences. Unfortunately, this has led to some rather dubious NCAA records for the school. In 2004, the team finished 0-28, the only time a school has gone through a complete season winless. The school also holds the record for the least points scored in a half (4) in an 85-25 loss to Kansas State in 2008. The team performs very well within the MEAC Conference.
Food & Beverage 3
There are two concession stands on the upper level of the arena. They serve a very basic set of items, but at extremely low prices. The entire menu consists of hot dogs ($2), nachos ($4.25), popcorn ($2), candy ($2), chips ($1.50), bottled water ($2), and Coca-Cola brand sodas ($2). It would be a good idea to load up on something more substantial prior to the game and then rely on the concession stand for a snack.
Despite the Tigers woes on the court, the atmosphere in the stands is one of celebration. The arena sets the stage for this by having the interior area of the building in the school colors of bright hues of orange, blue and white.
Like many of the other HBCU schools, the band plays on a nonstop basis, which has the fans dancing in the aisles. The Tiger mascot, the Savannah State cheerleaders, and the Sapphire Dance Line also do a great job in keeping the spirits high during the game.
In some respects, a Savannah State game is like a family reunion, as the opposition often has some players who attended high school in the local area. This is especially true for crosstown rival Armstrong State University, as well as schools such as South Carolina State or Georgia Southern University.
Savannah State University is located in the Midtown area of metropolitan Savannah. This is 5 miles east of downtown Savannah and its Historic District, and 16 miles west of Tybee Island and the Atlantic Ocean. This makes it very accessible to the many attractions and fine restaurants Savannah has to offer.
Restaurants in and around the Savannah State campus include Chili’s, Baldino’s Subs, Bojangles, the Overtime Sports Bar and Grill, and the Coaches Corner. Baseball fans can enjoy the Savannah Bananas games at Historic Grayson Stadium, which is just five miles from the campus.
Savannah is a tourist mecca and lodging is available to meet anyone’s budget. Accommodations in the downtown area along Bay Street are the most expensive, as are the oceanfront properties on Tybee Island. The most reasonable accommodations from a price point are near Savannah Mall along Abercorn Street. This is one of the city’s main thoroughfares and is only minutes away from Savannah State or any of Savannah’s many tourist attractions.
You can typically expect a crowd of around 2,000 people for a Savannah State men’s basketball game, with sellouts limited to “backyard brawls” with neighboring institutions Armstrong State University or Georgia State University.
A major portion of the crowd will be Savannah State students, as the arena is located adjacent to some of the largest dorms in the area and a very large apartment complex located just off campus.
Savannah State’s alumni base is largely from within the city, as the school was at one-time commuter based. They may be gray around their temples, but they are true blue and orange in their hearts. The third component of the attendees comes from neighborhoods throughout the local area that has no official link to the Tigers. Savannah State is the only Division I sports program in town, and it receives a great deal of local media attention as a result.
The directions to Savannah State University and Tiger Arena are quite simple. Take I-16 East to exit 165 (Abercorn Street). Make a right on Abercorn Street, then a right onto Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Turn left onto Victory Avenue and stay on it until you enter the small village of Thunderbolt. You will then turn right on Whatley, which will bring you directly to the main gate of Savannah State University.
There will be a staffed gate attendant, and you just need to let them know your destination is Tiger Arena. They will hand you a campus map, but it is hard to miss, as it is a tall white, blue and orange building.
Free parking is available directly outside the arena. Once inside you can enter the court level at either floor level or go upstairs (via elevator or stairway). The lower level is bench seating as it is of the rollout variety. The upper seating is plastic chair back seating. The aisles and concourses are wide, and you will have no difficulty in navigating them, even at halftime. The concessions and restrooms are adequate for the typical turnout for a Savannah State game.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to games are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and military personnel, and $5 for youth. There is no charge for parking in the lot adjacent to Tiger Arena. The concession offerings are very basic but quite inexpensive. A night out with the Tigers will not burn a hole in your pocket.
March Madness in Savannah has nothing to do with basketball. On March 17 of each year, the city of Savannah hosts the second largest, after New York, St. Patrick’s celebration in the country, with thousands more taking part. The celebration includes a 5-hour long parade, dyeing the Savannah River green, and revelry all day and all night along the city’s historic River Street. You can also take drinks to go in plastic cups in this area of town only.
Six basketball players from Savannah State University have gone on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.
A third extra has to go to the location of Savannah State’s campus. You can enjoy a lively nightlife on River Street within a matter of minutes of the campus or if it is a nice spring day you can be on the beach at Tybee Island in less than a half an hour.
Tiger Arena offers free parking, inexpensive ticket and concession prices, plus beautiful Savannah to enjoy after the game-try not to enjoy yourself while in town.