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  • Writer's pictureDavid Welch

Hanner Fieldhouse – Georgia Southern Eagles

Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Hanner Fieldhouse 590 Herty Drive Statesboro, GA 30458

Year Opened: 1969

Capacity: 4,325


Final Curtain Call for Hanner

Following the 2023-24 basketball season, the Georgia Southern Eagles will be leaving their home of the past 55 years for a new $64 million facility, the Jack and Ruth Ann Hill Convocation Center. While the new facility comes with much anticipation, there is also much to appreciate and look back on in fondness as the Eagles leave their nest.

Initially established as the Georgia Teacher College Professors, the school transitioned to the Georgia Southern College Eagles in 1959.

The Eagles have played as members of the Sun Belt Conference since the 2014-15 season, having previously been a part of the Southern and Trans-Atlantic Conferences, as well as spending time as an independent program upon their jump from NAIA to NCAA in 1970.

Since joining the NCAA, Georgia Southern has played in three NCAA tournaments (‘83, ‘87, ‘92), have been selected for three Post Season NITs (‘88, ‘89, ‘06), and have played in one CBI tournament (‘17).


Food & Beverage   2

Concession stands can be found in the court level lobby down the stairs from the main entry point. The menu offerings are somewhat limited, featuring typical stadium fare such as hotdogs, soft pretzels, popcorn, chips, and various candies.

Beverages include various options from the Coca-Cola family, with Dasani water also available.

For those looking for alcoholic beverages, Hanner Fieldhouse offers a selection of Budweiser products, including beer and seltzers. For a bit more flavor, craft beers from Wicked Weed are also available, as are Cutwater premixed cocktails.


Atmosphere   4

From the outside, the brick and concrete facility might be a bit less than impressive, but once they step into the playing area, fans are seemingly teleported back to a time when towns shut down for games because the entire population was at the gym.

Upon entering the seating bowl the fold-down, wooden seats along the upper level of sideline seating, not to mention the wooden benches at each end of the court, give the feeling that Jimmy Chitwood (Hoosiers) might run out from the locker room to take the floor. Court level seating, while a bit more comfortable, does not have the same charm as the wooden relics in the upper seating area. A row of court side seats run the length of the sideline opposite the team benches, only broken up by the center court press table. Regardless of your seat, you will be close to the action and have a clear view of the floor. However, the railings of the stairs in the upper seating area, along with the clear plastic used in the openings, can slightly interrupt the view of the court for those seated in the first few rows of the upper level.

Due to a low roof line here, the use of an overhead scoreboard is impractical. Instead, LED ribbon boards span the width of the court on either end, serving at the arena scoreboards. While this setup may pose some minor limitations for certain in-game features, it brings a sense of relief as fans are spared from being bombarded with ads and commercials during breaks in the action.

The promotions staff wonderfully engages fans through on-court contests, primarily featuring the Eagles youngest fans, and by simply allowing the pep band, cheer squad, and dance team to “do their thing” in entertaining the crowd until the ball is back in play. The simple act of giving these groups the stage to showcase their talents significantly contributes to energizing the fans and keeping them actively involved in the game.


Neighborhood   4

Downtown Statesboro has every ounce of charm that would be expected from small town America. A mile from the northern edge of Georgia Southern’s campus, Main Street Statesboro is home to several shops, restaurants, and coffee shops. The recently revitalized Blue Mile, connecting campus to downtown Statesboro, is dotted with bars and restaurants. Notable establishments like the well-regarded BBQ joint Dolan's, and the popular nightlife spot Gnat's Landing, are found along this path. On the opposite side of campus, Dingus MaGee's is another favored spot for grabbing a bite and a pint.

For those seeking a larger city atmosphere, the Georgia port city of Savannah is conveniently located about an hour east on I-16.


Fans   4

Georgia Southern fans are a loud and supportive bunch – it is not uncommon for those in court side seats to be a bit more reserved, but at Hanner Fieldhouse they might be some of the more rambunctiously supportive groups.

The Georgia Southern student section, the Hanner Hooligans, do a lot to bring a lively atmosphere to Hanner Fieldhouse. Though they do have a section all for themselves, it seems as if the students are more spread out than that, albeit mostly concentrated in the court level seating behind the team benches.

As a whole, the Georgia Southern fan base shows a high level of appreciation and participation when it comes to the cheers and chants led by the spirit squads. Eagles fans contribute to a unique and vibrant experience inside Hanner Fieldhouse, an atmosphere that might be overlooked in a larger venue, but undeniably adds to the distinctive charm of Hanner.


Access   2

Statesboro can be a bit challenging to get to. The closest bigger city, Savannah, is still an hour's drive away, while the next closest Georgia city, Macon, is nearly 2 hours. Fans coming from central and northern Georgia will definitely get familiar with the Georgia countryside along Interstate I-16.

Once in Statesboro, the core of its athletics neighborhood is wedged into the northern reaches of the Georgia Southern campus on the south side of town. Parking is available in the large lot along Fair Road, behind the tennis complex and baseball’s J.I. Clement Stadium. This leaves a short walk to the front doors of Hanner Fieldhouse – parking directly in front of Hanner Fieldhouse is reserved for season ticket holders and doners.

While there are some interesting quirks to navigating Hanner Fieldhouse, one being the only concession stands are located in the court level lobby, downstairs from the main concourse, there is one concourse that encircles the break between the upper and lower levels of seating. This walkway is wide enough to accommodate fans moving in different directions, but with endline seating starting in the concourse, there is a bit of having to navigate around the legs of those seated in the front rows.


Return on Investment   4

Tickets start at $10 for general admission seats at the ends of the fieldhouse, while reserved seats with sideline views will run $15. There is also a $3 service fee added to the transaction. While this fee is a bit of an annoyance, it is better than the Ticketmaster fee that is added to each ticket sold on top of the total transaction. Tickets are not outrageously priced to the point that it would be a deterrent to attending a game.

Concession prices seem comparable to most smaller sports venues; as expected there is a premium markup on alcohol.

Cash payment is not accepted here, so prices might be subject to convenience fees, which does not tend to be all that coinvent.


Extras   4

The wooden seating around the upper level of Hanner Fieldhouse is a rarity, and creates a very special atmosphere that is almost a time capsule of basketball history.

GUS, the Georgia Southern mascot, is an active part of the game experience, and often leads the crowd in chants during breaks.

Banners of retired numbers in Georgia Southern basketball history recognize the careers of Scotty Perkins, Chester Webb, Jeff Sanders, and Michael Curry.

Following the game, in an ode to their university the cheerleaders and pep band join with alumni to sing the Georgia Southern alma mater.


Final Thoughts

While new facilities are generally much anticipated and create a great deal of excitement for a fan base, there is always a bit of historical relevance that is left behind that can never be duplicated.

There are definitely aspects of Hanner Fieldhouse which are either outdated or inconvenient, due simply to limitations in being able to improve them, which moving to a new facility can remedy, but one thing that will be difficult to recreate is the air of special basketball that is Hanner Fieldhouse.


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