- Richard Smith
Coleman Coliseum - Alabama Crimson Tide
Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Coleman Coliseum 323 Paul W. Bryant Drive Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Year Opened: 1968
Low Tide At Coleman Coliseum
The athletic success of the University of Alabama is unmatched, with many sports achieving national championship status. As a result, the school has the financial capabilities to build the nicest venues in the country for its various sports programs.
The men’s basketball program is a part of this legacy of success. The Crimson Tide roundballers have made 20 NCAA Tournament appearances and 15 NIT appearances. The Coleman Coliseum has been the team’s home since 1968 when its features were considered ahead of its time.
Unfortunately, only major renovation has been made to the building, and that was in 2005. As a result, the facility has fallen behind many of the arenas in the SEC. While it still has one of the larger capacities for seating at 15,303, a large portion of these seats are in the less-than-desirable end-of-court seats
Food & Beverage 3
Coleman Coliseum maintains 6 identical concession stands in the concourse area of the arena. These stands go by the name of the Crimson Grill and offer the standard items typically found at an athletic venue. These items include pizza ($8), pretzels ($5), nachos ($5), hot dogs ($5), peanuts ($4), candy ($4), and cookies ($3). Beverage selections include Coca-Cola products, with a regular-size soda costing $5 and bottled water for sale at $4. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed in the Coliseum.
The concourses do not provide a view of the game action. However, each concession area has a TV monitor, so you will not miss any of the action while standing in line.
The atmosphere at Crimson Tide games is in many ways hampered by the design of the arena. The exterior of the building is very contemporary, suggesting a great experience inside. Once inside the building, you find little to excite you about being at the game. The 360-degree external concourse is very stark, with white walls and concrete floors. There are very few graphics on the walls and any history of past teams is posted so high on the walls no one would notice they are there.
The concession stands are generic, as they all share the same name, menu, and look. No signature dish makes a trip to the concession stand interesting. There is a lone spirit shop, and it is no bigger than a six-foot table with a tabletop display.
Inside the arena, the seating bowl area is rectangular, leaving nearly 50% of the crowd in end-zone seats with less-than-desirable views of the action. Also, both ends of the court have large walls cutting the fans from feeling a part of the action.
The two redeeming features of the seating bowl area are an excellent HD scoreboard hung at midcourt and a nice display of banners heralding the successes of both the basketball and gymnastic programs.
Coleman Coliseum is located within the athletic complex of the University of Alabama. Its immediate neighbors are the brand-new Sewell- Thomas Baseball Stadium, the Sam Bailey Track and Field facility, the Mal Moore Athletic Administration building, and the practice fields for the Crimson Tide football program. Located immediately across Bryant Drive for Coleman Coliseum is the Paul W. Bryant Museum, which includes not only relics related to “The Bear”, but also other sports at the school.
Since the basketball arena is on school property, most restaurant and lodging options are found two blocks over on University Boulevard. However, the Hotel Capstone is managed by the University of Alabama and is located across the street from the basketball venue. Another lodging option within easy walking distance is the Embassy Suites in downtown Tuscaloosa.
There are innumerable places to eat in Tuscaloosa, but we recommend two restaurants that originated in Tuscaloosa and have withstood the test of time. Dreamland BBQ is an Alabama state treasure with outlets throughout the area, but the original shop is still operating in Tuscaloosa. The second is located across the street from Bryant -Denny Stadium. It is the legendary Rama Jama’s and is located just 4 blocks from Coleman Coliseum on Bryant Drive.
The fanbase for Crimson Tide basketball falls into two categories which deserve widely variant scores. We will first address the most energized fans…. the student section known as the “Crimson Chaos”. This group is the Crimson Tide’s answer to the Cameron Crazies of Duke. They stand throughout the game, attempt to disrupt the communications and concentration of the opposing team, and pump up the energy level of the home team.
The remainder of the fanbase does not seem to get into the action on the court. They are polite but quiet most of the game. Another thing that surprised me was the low energy level seen by the pep band and the cheerleaders. Compared to most of the arenas I have attended, the band played very infrequently, and the cheer squad took the court only once or twice during the game. The dance squad was the most frequent user of the court, and preforming dances to popular tunes does not create a team spirit. I rate this portion of the crowd as a “3”.
Tuscaloosa is 50 miles east of Birmingham via I-20. You would then take the McFarland Boulevard exit and head north until you reach University Boulevard. Turn left on University Boulevard until you reach 2nd Avenue. Parking is free in the Moody lot off 2nd Avenue. You would then cross Bryant Drive to the arena.
Once inside Coleman Coliseum, you will find the concourses to be wide and easy to navigate. There are enough restrooms and concession stands so you should not encounter any lines. When you enter the seating bowl, access is not so good. The seating bowl is one level with a very steep grade to the higher seats.
The steps are steep as well, with no railings available. The one positive on the inside access is that the last renovation of the arena was done before the width of seats was narrowed. You will find the theatre-style seats to be very comfortable and you will not be elbow-to-elbow with your neighbor.
Return on Investment 4
Fans will find a night out at a Crimson Tide basketball game will not break the bank. Tickets are priced at $15 for an adult ticket and $10 for children 18 years and younger for non-SEC conference games. SEC Conference games are priced at $20 for adults and $10 for persons 18 years and younger, Free parking is provided in the Moody parking lot across Bryant Drive from the coliseum or in the soccer lot off University Drive in the case of larger games. Free shuttles are provided from the soccer lot. The concessions are reasonably priced, and you will see some of the top teams in college basketball compete at low prices.
The Paul Bryant Museum across the street from the arena is well worth a visit. Coleman Coliseum is the main concert venue on campus. Amongst the groups who have performed there are Elvis, the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, and Bob Dylan.
The Crimson Tide’s women’s gymnastics team also uses Colman Coliseum for its home meets. The turnout and fan support for this top-ranked squad often surpass that of the basketball program.
Crimson Chaos deserves its own “extra” for creating great energy and support for the basketball team.
The University of Alabama has some of the finest sports facilities in the country, and the financial resources to keep them the state of the art. The Coleman Coliseum needs serious upgrading to compete in the Southeastern Conference.