Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
George W. Woodruff Physical Education Center 26 Eagle Row Atlanta, GA 30322
Year Opened: 1983
Welcome to the WoodPEC
Tucked away in Atlanta’s Druid Hills neighborhood sits the campus of Emory University. Even with Emory’s high academic standards, athletics play a key role in the overall culture of the university.
Originally founded in 1836, Emory would move from their original east Georgia home in Oxford, Georgia, to Atlanta in 1915 on land donated by the founder of the Coca-Cola Company, Asa Griggs Chandler.
Emory University has played in the University Athletic Association in the NCAA’s Division III since the conference’s inception in 1986. The UAA is comprised of colleges and universities throughout Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, which are all also highly regarded institutions of higher learning.
Food & Beverage 2
When it comes to food and beverages, options are as basic here as you are going to find. A small table is set up along the entryway and sells candy, chips, and other snacks, along with Minute Maid Agua Fresca, Dunkin’ Iced Coffee, Powerade, and Coca-Cola products.
A saving grace for concessions is that outside food does not seem to be frowned upon – with the Cox Hall food court just steps from Woodruff P.E. Center, there are several options for fans to grab and bring to the game.
The George W. Woodruff Physical Education Center, affectionately called the “WoodPEC”, is a multi-use student recreation complex that houses campus health and wellness facilities and an Olympic-sized swimming pool, along with the gymnasium.
The facility uses two very different styles at each of its entrances. In what might be considered the backdoor there is a very ‘80s minimalist feel to it, with very straight angles and little use of glass and windows. In contrast, the campus side of the facility has a much different feel, featuring a high arching entryway, large columns, and a great deal of stonework on the lower portion of the building.
Since Woodruff Physical Education Center doubles as the student recreation center, there is an interesting mix of those there for the basketball game and those there to get a workout in.
The playing area is part of a much larger gymnasium that is divided into a pair of side courts alongside the main game court. Traditional wooden bleachers pull out from the wall across from team benches, while temporary bleachers run the length of the sidelines behind the team benches. Basic scoreboards are affixed to the facade of the overhead track that runs above the gym; the scoreboard at the home end of the floor provides fans with player individual totals, along with the typical game time and score.
Emory also has a small but energetic pep band, which is quick to fill time during breaks in the action with popular music and the school fight song, to fire up students and alumni. Friday night games also use a DJ to bring a bit of hype to the contest.
When it comes to seating, much will depend on needs and wishes. Seating across from the team benches is wooden step-up bleachers, so there is no back support. On the other hand, the bleachers behind the team benches are more of a stadium style with seatbacks.
For students, Friday night games seem to bring a bit more excitement, as Emory Athletics hosts a pre-game tailgate with free food, beer, and giveaways. This goes a long way in enticing students to come out to the game and create a fun, college basketball atmosphere.
Emory is in Atlanta’s Druid Hills neighborhood, just to the east of downtown Atlanta. On campus, Woodruff Physical Education Center is in the northwest corner, sandwiched between the campus track and tennis courts.
The area immediately around Emory’s campus allows visitors to feel as if they are in a small college town. Just east of campus, Emory Village has a handful of restaurants, cafes, and shops, while to the north, Emory Point offers even more shops and restaurants, including one of Atlanta’s most highly regarded delis, The General Muir. Alternatively, if looking for more of a college town vibe with more food, drink, and entertainment options, the city of Decatur’s town square is only a short drive away.
Being just over 6 miles from Downtown Atlanta, there are seemingly endless points of interest near the arena.
Emory’s student body and fanbase definitely fill the stands, especially for Friday night games. They typically create a definitive home court advantage, but at times require a bit of a spark to get going. Fans do not seem to be overly rambunctious throughout the game, but are quick to celebrate big plays, jeer opponent mistakes, or join the Eagles’ bench in calls for “DE-FENSE!”.
Emory is in a part of Atlanta that can be a bit tricky to get to, close to being in the middle of three different interstate highways (I-85, I-20, and the Atlanta I-285 bypass). The area is fed by surface and neighborhood streets that can be rather congested on Friday evenings, when the Eagles play many of their home games. A saving grace is that Emory plays many of their games at noon on Sundays, so dealing with the trials and tribulations of Atlanta traffic is not much of an issue at this time of day.
When it comes to accessing the gymnasium, a large parking deck is conveniently located on the back side of Woodruff Physical Education Center, which is just a short walk away. Fans will enter on the second level of the recreation center and proceed to the middle of the building, where they can take the stairs or elevator to the first floor, where the gymnasium’s entry point is located.
Return on Investment 5
Admission to Emory Eagles basketball games is free, as is parking, so it’s hard to ask for anything more than that. Concessions are a bit hit or miss when it comes to what might seem reasonable, especially for beverages, and there really aren’t any food options to attract fans, unless they just need to grab something to tide them over.
The hallway behind the primary seating area has two “pop-a-shot” games where fans to challenge each other to a head-to-head competition, or just see what high score can be set.
The walls of the eastern entrance on the main level display the Emory Athletics Hall of Fame – one drawback though is many of the plaques are mounted so high up the wall they can be difficult to read.
Along the center staircase of the WoodPEC is an interactive look at Emory University athletics and the accomplishments of each of the Eagles programs. Also included is the Emory Victory Bell that was salvaged from the Emory Victory, a World War II and Korean War-era cargo ship. The bell is rung in recognition of the achievements of student-athletes.
Emory University has a vibrant basketball atmosphere that encompasses much of what has traditionally made college basketball so attractive. Despite what might be considered a smaller venue, the packed stands contain a lot of energy that celebrate the highs and lows of the game. The coziness of the stands and involvement of fans create an exceptionally fun, Division III college basketball experience.