Colonial Life Arena

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Colonial Life Arena
University of South Carolina Colonial Life Arena.jpg
Former names Carolina Center (2002–2003)
Colonial Center (2003–2008)
Location 801 Lincoln Street
Columbia, SC 29208
Owner University of South Carolina
Operator Global Spectrum
Capacity 18,000 (Basketball)
19,000 (Concerts)
Surface Multi-surface
Construction
Broke ground April 25, 2001[1]
Opened November 21, 2002
Construction cost $65 million
($85.2 million in 2014 dollars[2])
Architect Rosser International Inc.
Structural engineer Geiger Engineers[3]
General contractor Beers Construction[4]
Tenants
South Carolina Gamecocks
(Men's & Women's Basketball) (2002–present)
Columbia Stingers (2007)

The Colonial Life Arena is a multi-purpose arena in Columbia, South Carolina, primarily home to the University of South Carolina men's and women's basketball teams. Opened as a replacement for the Carolina Coliseum with the name Carolina Center in 2002, the 18,000 seat arena is also host to various events like conferences, concerts, and graduation ceremonies throughout the year. It is the largest arena in the state of South Carolina and the tenth largest college arena.

The naming rights were acquired in 2003 by Unum, a Portland, Maine-based insurance company, and it was renamed to the Colonial Center after the Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, a Unum subsidiary headquartered in Columbia. On July 22, 2008, the USC board approved renaming the building to the Colonial Life Arena as part of Unum (which by then had moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee)'s rebranding of Colonial Life & Accident as Colonial Life.[5]

History and use[edit]

The arena floor of the Colonial Life Arena.

The arena first opened on November 22, 2002 with the season opener of the South Carolina women's basketball team. A sell-out crowd of 17,712 fans saw the 72–58 Gamecocks victory over in-state rival Clemson, with a one-dollar admission charge, commonly used by the women's basketball team to promote major games. The official grand opening took place December 2, 2002. The men's basketball team defeated Temple 66–47. On January 26, 2010 South Carolina defeated #1 ranked and undefeated Kentucky 68-62 in the arena, one of the biggest wins in South Carolina history.[6]

Aside from Gamecock basketball, the Colonial Life Arena also hosts the South Carolina High School Basketball Championships each year. The facility is built to also host ice hockey games, and was intended to be the new home of the ECHL's Columbia Inferno. However, due to legal issues with the funding for the facility, it has yet to host a game. The Inferno have sat out the last four seasons pending the construction of a new arena in neighboring Lexington County.

The Colonial Life Arena was ranked 22nd in the world in ticket sales in 2003.[7] It was also ranked the #1 arena in the Carolinas and was the #2 rated university arena in the world in 2005, based on ticket sales for touring shows.[8]

It is managed by Comcast's Global Spectrum, whose Philadelphia 76ers played an exhibition game in the venue in October 2005.

Ticketing is provided by New Era Tickets, and tickets can be purchased through the Arena's web site.

Non-basketball events[edit]

Other events held at the Arena have included Disney on Ice, High School Musical: The Concert, Sesame Street, American Idols Live! & Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Artists that have performed at the arena include Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Eagles, Cher, Billy Joel, Elton John, Michael W. Smith, Point of Grace, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Prince & The New Power Generation, Pearl Jam, Shania Twain, Britney Spears, Rascal Flatts, Def Leppard, Journey, Stoll Vaughan, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, Kings of Leon, Jordan Pruitt, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Sons of Sylvia, Craig Morgan, Miley Cyrus, Motley Crue and Metro Station, among others.

The University of South Carolina holds most of its commencement exercises in the Colonial Life Arena. The first commencement speaker for ceremonies at the Colonial Center was President George W. Bush in 2003.

On October 9, 2006, WWE held an edition of Monday Night Raw in Columbia. The special 3-hour edition was entitled 'WWE Homecoming - Family Reunion.' The WWE's first visit came in November 2002, when the Colonial Life Arena played host to a taping of Smackdown. The WWE has since returned to the arena for Monday Night Raw on March 24, 2008 and November 28, 2011.

In 2007, it was home to the Columbia Stingers of the National Indoor Football League.

On June 28, 2007, selected contestants from Dancing With The Stars performed dances, as part of their summer tour.

On December 9, 2007, a rally for Barack Obama was scheduled to be held at the arena. Because the rally also featured Oprah Winfrey, tickets to the event sold out days before the rally. The rally was eventually moved to nearby Williams-Brice Stadium.[9]

The venue, like all Comcast-Spectator managed facilities, has its own ticketing policy, and therefore concerts are not controlled by the major ticketing industry firms.

Controversy[edit]

The venue was built to host future NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament games. However, shortly before construction began, the NCAA barred venues in South Carolina and Mississippi from hosting such events due to protests from the NAACP. The NAACP and several other groups objected to the state hosting any NCAA-sanctioned tournament games due to the presence of a Confederate battle flag flying near a soldiers' memorial on the South Carolina Statehouse grounds.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Crowd Revels in Future Arena". The State (Columbia, SC). April 26, 2001. p. B1. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  3. ^ "Paul A. Gossen, P.E.". Geiger Engineers. Retrieved January 7, 2013. 
  4. ^ "What's on Deck?". SportsBusiness Journal. July 30, 2001. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Colonial Center Name Change Approved". South Carolina Athletics. July 22, 2008. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Kentucky Schedule (2009-10)". Big Blue History. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  7. ^ "The Colonial Center Ranks 22nd Worldwide in Ticket Sales to its Events". South Carolina Athletics. January 16, 2004. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  8. ^ http://sdm3.com/viewmsg.cfm?n35069s338c632468t337e1685912
  9. ^ "Oprah, Obama To Visit S.C.". WYFF (Greenville, SC). December 4, 2007. Archived from the original on December 26, 2007. Retrieved December 4, 2007. 

External links[edit]