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  • Writer's pictureDavid Welch

McCamish Pavilion – Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (WBB)



Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Hank McCamish Pavilion 965 Fowler St Atlanta, GA 30332



Year Opened: 1956

Capacity: 8,600

 

Women's Basketball at McCamish

Originally opened as Alexander Memorial Coliseum in 1956 as the home court for Georgia Tech basketball, the arena has been more than just the nest for the Yellow Jackets. In 1996 it was used for Olympic basketball, and following a tornado that struck downtown Atlanta in 2008, the arena played home to the SEC tournament following extensive damage to the Georgia Dome, creating a need for the tournament to be relocated on short notice. Nicknamed the “Thrillerdome”, the arena also served as the home court of the Atlanta Hawks during the demolition of The Omni and construction of the now State Farm Arena, as well as the home of the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA.


After 55 years and being the fourth-oldest arena in the ACC used for women’s basketball, the facility was in need of significant upgrades – rather than building a completely new arena, the coliseum was retired in order to undergo $50 million in renovations, giving birth to the newly reconstructed McCamish Pavilion.


Since the completion of renovations and moving back into their home to start the 2012-13 season, McCamish Pavilion has given Georgia Tech women’s basketball a definitive home court advantage, with the team winning 63% of their games at home.


 

Food & Beverage   3

A lone concession stand gives fans a menu that is quite standard, featuring hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, and an assortment of sweet treats. However, the presence of Chick-fil-A provides a wider selection of choices, offering their classic chicken sandwich, its spicy counterpart, and grilled chicken wraps. Additionally, various Chick-fil-A desserts, as well as their wonderfully tart lemonade and sweet southern tea, enhance the overall concessions experience.


With Coca-Cola’s headquarters less than a mile away, it would almost feel sacrilegious for Tech to offer anything other than Coke products. Concessions also provide fans with a wide choice of alcoholic beverages; seltzers, wines, spritzers, macro brews, and craft beers from New Realm Brewing Company, including two Georgia Tech-branded beers.


While the availability of Chick-fil-A is a welcome addition, the prices are significantly marked up, nearly double those found in the restaurant.

 

Atmosphere   3

After the 2011 season, the facility underwent a $50 million, 20-month renovation. The upgrades involved reconfiguring the seating bowl, widening the concourse, and adding club seating, an upper balcony, and an entry plaza. These changes give the arena a significantly more modern feel and addressed much-needed updates.


The corner panels and underside of a relatively smaller center court-hung scoreboard incorporate honeycomb accents, perfectly complementing the school's Yellow Jacket moniker. A dark-colored roof and dark-colored seats and arena support structures effectively establish a dark background, framing the court as the primary focal point for the action.


While the game remains the central focus, the traditions of Georgia Tech complement the fan involvement during most stoppages in play. Fans enthusiastically rise to their feet during the initial notes of the fight song "Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech", or in anticipation of the 4th Quarter's “Buzzweiser song”, a rendition of a Budweiser jingle during which fans energetically alternately bob up and down, joining in the chant, "IF YOU’VE SAID BUUUUDWEISER, YOU’VE-SAID-IT-ALL!".


The band, along with the cheer and dance squads, contributes to the classic college basketball atmosphere. While there are a few in-game hosted features during timeouts, they more-or-less complement the pep band and spirit squad as the main focal point of breaks in the action.

 

Neighborhood   5

The Georgia Tech campus is in Atlanta’s midtown neighborhood – McCamish Pavilion itself is on the northern most reaches of campus, in an athletics neighborhood of sorts. The tennis complex, outdoor track, baseball’s Mac Nease Ballpark at Russ Chandler Stadium, and even Hyundai Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium can be seen in the distance.

 

Georgia Tech’s campus will never be confused with being a college town by any means, but if strolling the heart of campus it can be easy to forget you are in one of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.

 

Being in midtown, the area around Georgia Tech provides nearly an endless number of food, lodging, and entertainment choices. Just across the Downtown Connector, several entertainment venues and restaurants line Peachtree and Juniper Streets. Tech is also only slightly over a mile away from Centennial Olympic Park, surrounded by attractions like the Georgia Aquarium, College Football Hall of Fame, and World of Coke. Just off the western edge of campus, the nationally renowned Antico Pizza and late-night hangout spot Northside Tavern are popular locations. In addition, the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center is conveniently located near campus, but is just one of several lodging options in the area.

 

Fans   3

According to NCAA statistics, Georgia Tech women’s basketball averages roughly 1,800 fans per game, which is in line with the national average – the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac10, SEC) average 1,900, so the night-in-night-out attendance here is comparable with similar teams around the country.

 

At a capacity of 8,600, McCamish Pavilion is one of the smaller arenas in the ACC, but it does create a more intimate atmosphere where fans are closer to the action on the floor, and their passion has more of an impact on the game than it might in a larger arena. Fans are supportive throughout, celebrating baskets and defensive stops accordingly, even in late game situations of a lopsided game.


A lot of credit needs to go to the Georgia Tech pep band who, while not filling the breaks in the action with music, are passionately rooting on the Yellow Jackets.

 

Access   4

Getting to McCamish Pavilion for a Yellow Jackets game may pose some challenges, but knowing some of the workarounds can ease some of the traffic frustrations.


McCamish Pavilion is conveniently located off Atlanta's Downtown Connector just off 10th Street in midtown Atlanta. However, keep in mind this intersection is often highly congested, especially during the evening commute. For fans coming from the northwest side of Atlanta via I-75, moving to the right as soon as you see the 16th, 14th, and 10th Street exit sign will alleviate difficulties with merging at the last moment; easy rule of thumb – when in doubt, merge right. For those on I-85, taking the opportunity to turn right onto Techwood Drive can help avoid congestion on the exit ramp. Unfortunately, fans arriving from the south via the Williams Street exit may not experience the same relief from backups along 10th Street.


The recommended parking lot for the arena is the McCamish lot (E65) located directly behind the arena. Additional parking is available in the garage on 10th Street, diagonally across from the facility (E66), as well as street parking along Fowler Street—be sure to check street signs for any parking restrictions.


When using GPS for parking behind McCamish Pavilion, note that the gate is frequently closed for women’s basketball. Instead use the entrance on Fowler Street, which provides easy access to the back entrance of the arena.


While Atlanta does have a serviceable subway system, MARTA, the most accessible stop for McCamish Pavilion is still a half-mile walk.

 

Return on Investment   5

Tickets here go for just $7, making the experience extremely affordable. The affordability of tickets helps to offset slightly higher concessions prices. When factoring in that parking is free, however, the overall investment is well worth it.

 

Extras   5

When McCamish Pavilion essentially replaced Alexander Memorial Coliseum, its floor found a new purpose as trim around the arena's support structures – the Yellow Jacket and “GT” logos from the old coliseum now adorn the ceilings and a section of the wall in the Calloway Club.


Buzz, Georgia Tech's mascot and one of the most recognizable figures in college athletics, roams the stands during games, engaging kids, students, and anyone eager for a photo opportunity.



The Yellow Jackets women’s basketball program strives to make their program accessible with their devoted supporters. For $35, season ticket holders are able to access open practices, a meet-and-greet with the team, a tour of the locker room, and the opportunity to participate in pre-game “chalk talks” on several occasions throughout the season; this provides insight into the preparation that goes into each game.


The regular season and post season successes of the Tech’s women’s basketball program are recognized with banners in the rafters. Of the recognitions, the 1992 WNIT Championship team not only earned their own banner in the rafters, but also recognition among the honorees and NCAA Final Four teams in the support beams of the main entry point.


One of the great experiences of college athletics are the traditions tied to them; in the minutes following the final horn, the Tech pep band's final performance, “The Horse”, gets those still in attendance up to dance with the band and spirit squad. During the drum break, band members scatter around the arena until the end of the break to complete the piece. Legend has it that band members are then forbidden to play their instruments again until after midnight, or risk bringing bad luck to the team against their next conference opponent.

 

Final Thoughts

Georgia Tech women’s basketball has the pieces in place to build an overall exciting college basketball experience, but a handful of the aspects that support the overall positivity of the women’s basketball experience might also be working against it. A university in the heart of a major metropolitan area will commonly have endless competition for viewers simply given the number of options there are in the immediate vicinity. This does not take away from the excitement under the dome of McCamish Pavilion, however.

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