The Alexander Memorial Coliseum in July 2010
|Former names||Alexander Memorial Coliseum (1956–2012)|
|Address||965 Fowler St.|
|Opened||November 30, 1956|
November 9, 2012 (re-opening)
|Closed||March 6, 2011 (renovations)|
|Construction cost||$1.6 million|
($14.7 million in 2018 dollars)
$45 million (2012 renovation)
|Architect||Aeck Associates of Atlanta|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (NCAA) (1956–2011, 2012–present)|
Atlanta Hawks (NBA) (1968–1972, 1997–1999)
Atlanta Dream (WNBA) (2017–2018)
Hank McCamish Pavilion, nicknamed The Thrillerdome and originally known as Alexander Memorial Coliseum, is an indoor arena located on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia. It is the home of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets men's basketball and Yellow Jackets women's basketball teams.
The venue previously hosted the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1968 to 1972 and again from 1997 to 1999. Tech's women's volleyball team occasionally uses the facility as well, primarily for NCAA tournament games and other matches that draw crowds that would overflow the O'Keefe Gymnasium.
The 270-foot-diameter (82 m) Alexander Coliseum opened in 1956 at the intersection of 10th Street and Fowler on the northeast end of the Georgia Tech campus. The building was named for William A. Alexander, Georgia Tech's football coach from 1920 to 1944 and the third athletic director (after John W. Heisman); his tenure as coach included the 1928 Rose Bowl team (the 1928 season, the Rose Bowl itself was played on January 1, 1929). The huge dome was constructed in a way in which there are no support pillars to obstruct the view of any fans during games. It served as a replacement for the Third Street Gymnasium (later known as the Heisman Gym) on the campus of Georgia Tech, an 1,800 seat arena opened just 18 years before. The arena's original capacity was 6,996 seats, though crowds larger than that sometimes assembled for big games.
Between 1956 and 1996, the Coliseum had undergone three major renovations. In 1986, 2,150 seats were added in what was previously an upper walkway around the rim of the arena. In 1989–1990, 750 seats were added in the end zone areas. The last major renovation was during 1995–1996, prior to the 1996 Summer Olympics. The floor was lowered 4 feet to increase seating, 12 luxury suites were added, and many of the benches were replaced with chairback seats. Sightlines were also improved for those sitting in the first few rows of the side of the court opposite the benches. Connected to the south end of the Coliseum are the Luck Building, and the Coliseum Annex. The facility was renamed Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald's Center for 10 seasons from 1996 to 2005 in conjunction with a $5.5 million donation to help pay for the mid-1990s renovation, which increased seating capacity to 9,191.
The Coliseum played host to the Atlanta Hawks after they moved from St. Louis while The Omni was under construction, and again between 1997 and 1999, after the Omni was demolished and while Philips Arena was being built on its site. During the latter period, the Hawks played most of their home games at the Georgia Dome with the remainder at the Coliseum. The team again played at McCamish Pavilion during October 2017 for preseason games, when Philips Arena improvements forced the Hawks to play there a third time.
For most of its life, the Coliseum has hosted many rounds of the Georgia High School Association men's and women's state tournament games. The first integrated high school state tournament in Georgia history was played there before record overflow crowds in 1967.
The arena received its nickname, "The Thrillerdome," from former Tech color radio announcer and former ESPN broadcaster Brad Nessler, for the many close games it witnessed during the 1983-84 season.
In 2003, the playing surface was renamed "Cremins Court" in honor of Bobby Cremins, Georgia Tech's head coach from 1979 to 2000.
On February 21, 2008, the men's basketball game between Georgia Tech and the University of Virginia was cancelled due to a leak in the roof that was caused by hard rainfall that had accumulated over the day. The decision to cancel the game was based on the fact that officials at the game could not find where the water was coming through and because officials had no way to stop it. The game was delayed for about a half-hour, and then ultimately postponed until March 3, 2008.
On March 14, 2008, a tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta, causing damage to the CNN Center, Philips Arena, and Georgia Dome. During the weekend, the SEC was set to play at the Georgia Dome on Thursday through Sunday. The tornado struck while the third of four quarterfinal games was in overtime. While that game was completed, SEC officials decided not to risk playing the fourth. Later that night, the conference decided to move the 2008 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament to the smaller Coliseum, including the championship game. Due to the smaller capacity, only players' families, school officials, credentialed media and 400 fans from each school were allowed to attend the remaining games.
On October 19, 2010, Georgia Tech announced that Alexander Memorial Coliseum would undergo a $45 million renovation and would be renamed McCamish Pavilion after Hank McCamish in honor of a $15 million donation from the McCamish family. The facility's extensive renovation included reconstruction of the seating bowl, the addition of an upper level balcony and club seating, and the expansion of the concourse and plaza area. During the renovation, Georgia Tech's basketball teams played their 2011–2012 games at Philips Arena or Arena at Gwinnett Center.
On August 22, 2016, the Atlanta Dream of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) announced that they would play the entirety of their 2017 and 2018 home schedule as well as any 2016 home playoff games at McCamish Pavilion due to renovations at Philips Arena conflicting with the WNBA schedule. Due to the Georgia Dome's closure and then-impending demolition and other venues within Metro Atlanta being either unavailable, undersized, or too distant, Georgia State University held its Spring 2017 commencement ceremonies at McCamish Pavilion.
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