Photos by Jared Goodman, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Winthrop Coliseum 1162 Eden Terrace Dr Rock Hill, SC 29730
Year Opened: 1982 Capacity: 6,100
Rock The Hill
The Palmetto State is home to 12 Division I basketball teams, from the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge to the sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast. Some of these schools are nationally recognized, like Clemson University and the University of South Carolina. The rest seem trifle around their respective conferences and are often glanced over. But there’s one South Carolina school on which you can’t sleep: Winthrop.
Fans will know the name if they follow March Madness, as the Winthrop Eagles have made a few recent forays into the tournament. The Eagles make their nest in the suburbs of Charlotte, calling the small suburban city of Rock Hill their home. The Winthrop Coliseum, boasting 6,100 seats and built in 1982, is where the team gets to work and destroys their Big South competition on a nightly basis.
Food & Beverage 2
The concession options on the Hill are pretty bland and basic. Hot dogs ($4) seem to be the most popular item, with chili or cheese (one for $5, both for $6) as an optional add-on. There are also nachos with cheese ($5), cheese or pepperoni pizza ($6-$7) and a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich ($5). A few snacks are also offered, such as cookies, candy, chips, popcorn, and pretzels ($3-$5). Coca-Cola is the beverage brand on tap at the Coliseum, and you can nab a bottle for $4. Bottled water is $3.
The Winthrop Coliseum, to put it bluntly, is an aging and bland building. There’s nothing terribly special about the venue, but the game day experience isn’t defined by the architecture. What happens on the court and the performance put on by the ensemble of students and hype squad is what truly characterizes a game in Rock Hill.
Prior to the game, Winthrop’s band plays a sound-bite of an eagle screaming - it’s unexpected and piercing, which is exactly what distracts and disturbs the visiting team. Flags and inflatable tube guys accompany the Winthrop players as they’re introduced, all while Metallica’s Enter Sandman is pumped through the sound system. During the game, you’ll hear a unique “We Will, We Will, Rock the Hill” chant, the school’s take on the hit Queen song.
Winthrop is in the heart of Rock Hill, which is really just a sleepy suburb of Charlotte. There isn’t much in the way of entertainment in the town, but there are a few happening spots. One such spot is the Riverwalk, a unique shopping and dining complex on the banks of the Catawba River. This River District is a neat spot to hit up for a pre- or post-game meal.
However, a lot of the action is 20 minutes up Interstate 77 in Charlotte. Just across the border from Rock Hill, Charlotte has several interesting attractions; from the NASCAR Hall of Fame to the Billy Graham Library, the Queen City caters to many tastes. The city is also home to a fascinatingly diverse dining scene, though many places aren’t open very late.
The Winthrop Coliseum, unfortunately, does not see very good turnouts. Even when the team is excelling on the court, the building rarely fills up. In fact, the upper rows of the seating bowl are tarped off to create a more intimate atmosphere; these “seat kills” are generally only removed if Winthrop hosts a Big South tournament game. Note: The Big South Tournament, after being previously held at campus sites, will be held in Charlotte, NC from 2021-23.
Despite the thin crowds, support from those who are in attendance during Eagles’ home contests is anything but lackluster. They’re very loud, extremely loyal, and nothing but supportive.
Winthrop is located in the quaint suburb of Rock Hill, South Carolina, just down Interstate 77 from Charlotte. The Coliseum itself is just a few miles off the highway and is surrounded by a massive parking lot, where it’s free to park.
The Coliseum is the most basic of the bunch, making it incredibly easy to navigate. Since it also rarely fills up, you’ll be generally free to explore and move wherever you want.
Return on Investment 4
Seeing the Eagles in action is very affordable, coming in at $8-$12 per ticket. Parking is free. Add in the fairly priced concessions, and you’re looking at spending only around $70 for a family of four to enjoy a night out in Rock Hill.
The basketball program at Winthrop has been tremendously successful for a Big South school, and you can get just a taste of the Eagles’ accomplishments by exploring the main concourse of the Coliseum. Trophy cases and informative plaques line the halls, highlighting Winthrop’s endeavors in both the Big South and NCAA tournaments.
The town of Rock Hill may be a bit sleepy, but don’t sleep on Winthrop basketball. As one of the better programs in the Big South Conference, and the Carolinas in general, it’s worth a stop to see the Eagles take flight on the Hill.