Columbus Civic Center – Columbus Lions
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Columbus Civic Center 400 4th St. Columbus, GA 31901
Year Opened: 1996 Capacity: 10,000
In a Roar
The Columbus Civic Center in Columbus, Georgia, was built in 1996 and holds 10,000 fans. The venue has hosted numerous sports teams in the past. It is currently home to indoor football (the Columbus Lions), college and minor league hockey (the Auburn Tigers and the Columbus River Dragons), and indoor soccer (the Columbus Rapids).
Food & Beverage 3
There are plenty of food options available at Columbus Civic Center, including some cheap options like a $4 hot dog or a burger for $4.15, which is probably as low as I have ever seen. However, the lines are way too long for a stadium that is less than half full.
There are food trucks in the parking lot as you come in, selling items such as funnel cake, Polish sausage, pork sandwiches, lemonade, iced tea, and water – the food items run $5 to $7, but the drinks outside are $1 each, which is amazing.
Once you get inside there are a ton more options, so you may want to walk around first to decide what you want to eat – options include stands selling pizza, BBQ (the BBQ stand is where the $4.15 burgers are sold, incidentally, and that stand also has wings and chicken tenders), Nathan’s hot dogs, and ice cream, plus there are generic stands with all the standbys such as nachos and hot pretzels.
There are also stands selling beer, wine, and mixed drinks, and you can also find pretty much everything non-alcoholic you can expect, though you may have to hunt around to see which stand has it – lemonade, energy drinks, soda, bottled water, Gatorade, etc.
The staff does a lot to make the event entertaining for fans, a lot of which I will talk about later in the Extras section. But in general, this is an older facility, so there are a couple of drawbacks, the most obvious being the 4-sided videoboard is grainy, making it hard to see. In addition, the screens on the video board are very small, so they may as well not have the thing there at all, as they don’t even bother to show replays on it anyway. Also, the video board complex hangs down WAAA-AAAY too low, so the ball is constantly hitting it during kickoffs – not really an ideal setup for indoor football.
The Lions do have a mascot, but no cheerleaders/dance team, although they do have a tunnel, as well as motorcyclists on the field when the team is introduced, which is something I have noticed at a lot of indoor football venues recently. The Lions do have a small band in the stands, which makes up in some part for the lack of cheerleaders. The seats are soft fabric, so they are comfortable enough, and the rows are not too narrow, so your knees don’t end up hitting the seats in front of you, and you can walk easily down the rows, which are both good things.
Columbus is right on the river near the border of Alabama, and the Civic Center is near the National Civil War Naval Museum, as well as a football field and a baseball stadium. There are plenty of restaurants and hotels along the waterfront area, and some attractions too, like the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, a giant cow, the Riverwalk Trail, and several parks where you can enjoy the outdoors.
As I mentioned earlier, even for the AIFA championship game (hosted by the Lions) the stadium was not even half full, but I was impressed that there was such a rocking tailgate scene outside the Columbus Civic Center – that is something you rarely see at an indoor football game, so is a definite plus. The fans who are there are also rowdy and loud, so if you had your eyes closed you might have a hard time guessing it wasn’t a sellout.
Parking is free at the Columbus Civic Center, and the parking lot is immense – a pro tip here; you should drive around to the small section of parking on the east side of the facility, between the ticket office and the football stadium. There is a road there that connects to Lumpkin Blvd, which most people don’t use, as it seems to take you out the back way AWAY from the stadium complex. But that road will take you to the inner parking section that few people use so that you can park close to the arena.
There is plenty of room to move around the concourse, but the lines are far too long getting thru security – for a stadium that is less than half full for the championship game, there were way too many people still waiting in line when the game kicked off; they need to invest in additional staff, or make some other kind of egress changes. Also, the elevators are not in a convenient location – they exist, but are located near the back of the venue, so are hard to find.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to see the Columbus Lions start at only $15, which is for the cheap seats up high, but you can move around as much as you like since it won’t be full, and the upper rows are not that high, given the small size of the venue. There are no suites or box seats, either. Given the free parking and cheap concessions for some items, I think a visit to Columbus Civic Center to see the Lions is worth it, especially given all the extras the staff offers (see below).
Starting with bouncy houses for the kids outside the venue as you enter, the Lions also have break dancers who perform during breaks in the action, and they also invite a local band to perform during halftime. They also bring in RC cars at halftime, who do flip off a ramp set up at midfield.
The Columbus Civic Center itself also has a few interesting amenities: a student art gallery and a sports hall of fame, which you can walk around, as well as tons of tables and seating areas tucked into little alcoves, if you want a place to eat or take a quick rest away from the crowds. The end zones are from the former Los Angeles Kiss (Arena Football League) that folded after the 2016 season.
While an older facility, Columbus Civic Center certainly has some interesting features, and the Lions are a great team, having gone undefeated (and won the league championship) in their most recent season. That said, a Columbus Lions game is worth a visit if you're in the area.