Photos by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
UNT Coliseum Super Pit 801 North Texas Blvd Denton, TX 76201
Year Opened: 1973
North Texas Basketball’s Super Pit
The University of North Texas Coliseum is the home court for the Mean Green men’s and women’s basketball teams. The arena is unofficially known as the Super Pit, which nickname arose because the predecessor, a smaller gymnasium, was referred to as the Snake Pit (the men’s gym would flood during heavy rainstorms, and once the water was gone, local snakes forced from their homes were found in the building). Today UNT Coliseum embraces that history with large signs outside advertising the Super Pit, while the official name is still visible on much smaller signage.
UNT Coliseum opened in 1973 on the University of North Texas’ campus in Denton, about 40 minutes north of Dallas and Fort Worth. The new venue was considered one of the finest basketball facilities in the southwest, as the building was awarded first and second-round games for the 1976 and 1980 NCAA Basketball Tournaments, and the arena continued to host tournaments through the 1980s. The biggest in UNT basketball history was the 1988 Men’s Southland Conference Tournament, as North Texas rolled past McNeese State and Northeast Louisiana to capture the conference championship, and its first ever invitation to the NCAA Tournament. In 2005, the men’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament was also held at the Super Pit.
Food & Beverage 3
There isn’t anything exotic at the concessions here, as the stands only offer basic stadium fare. The highest food prices belong to the brisket sandwich basket or brisket nachos – after all, what is a trip to Texas if you aren’t offered BBQ of some kind? Besides brisket you can also get jalapeno cheese sausage wraps, hot dogs, or pretzels. All food items fall inside the $10 range. The best option, however, if you just want a snack, is the souvenir popcorn for $8 – this bucket of popcorn is oversized and comes with a free refill.
UNT Coliseum serves Coca-Cola products including Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Powerade, and Mr. Pibb. The best option for soda is the larger souvenir cup for $6, which comes with a free refill. Alcohol sales offer a choice of domestic and import beer ($7-$8) or wine ($13), but there isn’t a large selection. The concessions were really a pleasant surprise with the pricing of the items and the very fast service.
There isn’t much of an atmosphere at UNT Coliseum due to the fact there isn’t much of a crowd in attendance. The North Texas band starts performing once the gates open, which is an hour before game time, but the two-tier seating bowl swallows up the few early arrivals, until near tip-off when a larger number of fans arrive at their seats.
The UNT dance team and spirit squad are located at opposite baselines – the cheerleaders are on the UNT band side of the court and the dance team is near the UNT bench. The mascot Scrappy, an eagle, walks around UNT Coliseum during the game for photo opportunities. There are dedicated fans that make a lot of noise, and, combined with the enthusiasm of the band and cheerleaders, keep the Super Pit entertaining despite the small numbers in attendance.
UNT Coliseum “Super Pit” is located on the University of North Texas’ campus across from Fouts Field on North Texas Blvd. Denton has a population of 113K people, and is the northernmost point of the DFW area, where Interstate 35 splits into two major arteries going to Fort Worth and Dallas; the 2 metropolises are both about 40 miles from Denton.
There are a few attractions in Denton, the most well-known being the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum and the Bayless-Shelby House Museum – this area is the heart of the college town atmosphere, with plenty of restaurants on E. Hickory and S. Locust Streets. Some of the best restaurants in this area are Hannah’s Off the Square, Rooster’s Roadhouse, Hoochies, and LSA Burger Co. – any of these would be a great place to start the pre or post-game experience, since there are no restaurants near the Super Pit.
Lodging near UNT Coliseum is limited to Hampton Inn, Howard Johnson, Motel 6, and Best Western, which is just up Interstate 35 on W. University Ave. However, the best options for lodging would likely be near DFW airport, if you are flying in from out of town.
The University of North Texas men’s basketball program’s average attendance last season was 3,800 – UNT Coliseum’s seating capacity is 10,500, so 37% of the arena is filled, which doesn’t bode well for the Mean Green faithful, even in a football state. However, they did manage to outdraw their future American Athletic Conference rival, SMU. The acoustics are also done very well, so the small crowd can seem to get a little louder when the action heats up on the court.
There is one thing you can count on with Mean Green fans at UNT basketball games, though – they are truly basketball fans, and not there just to be social. In UNT’s entrance to the American Athletic Conference next season, I expect the attendance to rise, with better competition and a nearby rival in SMU.
Access to UNT Coliseum “Super Pit” is outstanding as the venue is right off I-35E on campus, and offers very easy navigation to and from the parking lots between Fouts Field and the Super Pit – parking is free in a large lot just across North Texas Boulevard from the arena. There are also plenty of entrances into UNT Coliseum, and the concourse is wide enough for all. Fans can also visit the many displays here commemorating the history of North Texas sports; there were no problems whatsoever in getting around this venue or using the facilities.
Return on Investment 5
The return on investment for a visit to Denton to watch NCAA Division 1 basketball in an old school venue might be one of the highest returns in the country – the free parking right next to the venue begins the great return on investment while visiting the Super Pit. In addition, the two levels of pricing for Mean Green Basketball tickets are either $25 for reserved seats or $18 for general admission; the general admission seating is on the baselines, but there isn’t a bad seat in the building.
The concession prices are also relatively low cost compared to other venues – UNT Coliseum is a wonderful reminder of North Texas’ past arenas, and the university keeps the venue in great shape for being over 40 years old.
Just a note: North Texas is changing conferences – the 2023-24 basketball season will find the Mean Green in the American Athletic Conference. This could raise ticket prices in the coming year.
The ability to watch a basketball game in an old-time arena, that has been essentially unchanged for 40 years is a plus, as are the displays of the basketball program’s history in two different conferences, in both of which UNT won championships. There is also a trophy case in the concourse displaying basketball honors, including Sun Belt Tournament Championships from 2007 and 2010, as well as their recent success playing in Conference USA.
The most famous player from the North Texas Mean Green shares their unique namesake – NFL Hall of Famer and former Pittsburgh Steeler Mean Joe Greene was a Mean Green player. The University of North Texas’ nickname was adopted in 1966 when the North Texas football defense finished second in the nation against the rush – Joe Greene was a sophomore that year, and part of that defense. When he joined the Steelers in 1969, fans there thought that “Mean Green” was his nickname while at North Texas, and it stuck. Of course the university has kept the name, despite having an eagle as their mascot. Mean Joe is also a member of the UNT Hall of Fame.
UNT Coliseum is a link to the past, hearkening to a different era of basketball, yet well-maintained and allowing fans to step back in time. The Super Pit is a great old venue, and a replica of Dallas’ old Reunion Arena with its design and basketball experience. There isn’t a need to make a special trip to Denton to see it, but if you are already in the area it would be a treat to spend a couple of hours in the Ageless Super Pit.