- Eric Moreno
William R. Johnson Coliseum – Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71
William R. Johnson Coliseum 700 E College St Nacogdoches, TX 75964
Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks website
William R. Johnson Coliseum website
Year Opened: 1974
Lumberjacks Aim for the Top at William R. Johnson Coliseum
Located in the oldest city in the State of Texas, Nacogdoches, and nestled deep in the Piney Woods region are the Stephen F. Austin University Lumberjacks. The school and its basketball program have seen tremendous success over the course of their history, especially since moving into their current home, William R. Johnson Coliseum – the Jacks have made the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) once (in 2017), the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) three times (1987, 2008, & 2013), and the Big Dance itself, the NCAA Tournament, four times (2009, 2014, 2015, & 2016).
ABA and NBA legend James “Captain Late” Silas starred for the Lumberjacks from 1968-1972, and is probably the school’s best home-grown talent. William R. Johnson Coliseum itself has also proven to be a great home-court advantage for the Lumberjacks, and is a unique facility on the college basketball landscape.
Food & Beverage 3
Often times, I’ve found that concessions at smaller schools can be a mixed bag. However, you can take heart in the fact that what you find at Lumberjacks games is above the standard, and better than the norm. There are two concessions stands open during most games at William R. Johnson Coliseum, and both accept cash and credit cards, which is always welcome in this day and age.
The stands offer your traditional assortment of sporting event fare, such as hot dogs, popcorn, pretzels, bottled soda, water, sports drinks, and candy; these items all range from $2-$6, so are great bargains, and are sure to satisfy your needs. However, there are also some other non-traditional items that are worth checking out – these include grilled chicken or pulled pork sandwiches ($6 and $7 respectively) and pulled pork nachos ($8).
As an added attraction, one of the stands has an adjacent counter selling Marble Slab ice cream and Great American Cookie cookie cake slices. Sweets are often undervalued at sporting events; not at William R. Johnson Coliseum, though – here they are a top priority.
William R. Johnson Coliseum is deceptively cavernous – the court descends downward from the main entrance, and this effect offers great acoustics for the game. It amplifies the home crowd noise exponentially, and while it is hard to fill the over 7,000 seats for games that are not against conference rivals or big-name programs, the set up greatly enhances the atmosphere.
Everywhere you look, from the multitude of banners that hang from the rafters touting the numerous successes the program has had, to the timelines of the men’s and women’s basketball programs near the main entrance, you get the feeling that you are entering a basketball cathedral in Nacogdoches.
Something else every visitor should make a point to check out is the SFA Hall of Fame, which can be found inside William R. Johnson Coliseum.
Nacogdoches is the oldest city in the state of Texas, one of its proudest claims to fame. As such, there is history to be found on nearly every corner, especially in its historic downtown. Statues, plaques, and markers abound, which are sure to keep any history buff entertained. For shopping, the city is also one of the antique capitals of the state, and there are numerous shops to be found throughout the city.
For outdoor enthusiasts, there is Lake Nacogdoches, which offers camping, hiking, swimming, boating, and fishing options. Also, in nearby Lufkin, the Ellen Trout Zoo has been touted as one of the best mid-sized zoos in the state.
When it comes to dining options, your best bet is to hit up some local favorites before the game; being a smallish-sized town many venues close early, especially during the week. Some highlights to check out include Dolli’s Diner for classic American cuisine and Auntie Pasta’s, called one of the best Italian restaurants in East Texas.
In terms of lodging, all the chains can be found in Nacogdoches. However, in keeping with the historical theme, there are some great options to choose from, including the legendary Hotel Fredonia and the Victorian Inn & Suites.
There is something to be said for being the proverbial “only game in town” the way Stephen F. Austin athletics are in Nacogdoches. On game nights, it is an event to watch the Lumberjacks play at the William R. Johnson Coliseum. The stands are filled with purple and white attire, and there are multiple generations of fans in attendance.
When the stands are filled with screaming, enthusiastic fans of all ages, this makes for an experience that is truly special. Be prepared to get wrapped up in the excitement these fans bring to every game when you visit William R. Johnson Coliseum.
Stephen F. Austin University is located as far east in Texas as you can get without crossing into Louisiana – the nearest big city that you can fly into is Houston, and even that is still a good two-and-a-half-hour drive from Nacogdoches.
Once in town though, signs point you toward campus, and the big LED sign for William R. Johnson Coliseum can easily be viewed for several miles up the street. Parking for Lumberjack games is also ample and free.
Return on Investment 3
General admission tickets for SFA basketball games start at $10 per person/seat. SFA has regularly gone to the NCAA Tournament this past decade – on several occasions, they have even gone to the round of 32.
When you factor in their competitiveness against the cost for game tickets, the affordable cost for concessions, and the free parking, you are getting quite a bargain at William R. Johnson Coliseum in Nacogdoches.
There is not much to speak of in terms of “Extras” at games at William R. Johnson Coliseum. What there is though are the traditional staples of college basketball – a rowdy basketball band can always be found piping in music that is amplified by the acoustics of the arena, and waving banners and signs behind the opposing team’s basket during free throws. The Pom Squad is also on hand to perform at timeouts, and there are also contests throughout the game during breaks in the action, as well as special events during halftime.
East Texas is unlike any other region of the state – the scenery, topography, and terrain all make it unlike anywhere else in Texas. Nacogdoches also prides itself on being different, yet Texan at the same time.
Making a visit to the city alone is well worth the trip; when you add in the chance to see a great basketball program in a special venue, it is one that should not be missed.
Follow Eric Moreno’s Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477. Visit Eric Moreno’s writer’s portfolio site at ericmoreno.contently.com.