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Colonial Life Arena

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Colonial Life Arena
Location 801 Lincoln Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29208
Broke ground April 25, 2001[1]
Opened November 21, 2002
Owner University of South Carolina
Operator Spectra
Surface Multi-surface
Construction cost $65 million
Architect Rosser International Inc.
JHS Architects[2]
Structural Engineer Geiger Engineers[3]
General Contractor Beers Construction[4]
Former names Carolina Center (2002–2003)
Colonial Center (2003–2008)
Tenants South Carolina Gamecocks (NCAA) (2002–present)
Columbia Stingers (NIFL) (2007)
Capacity 18,000 (Basketball)
19,000 (Concerts)

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 eighth largest campus 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 useEdit

The arena first opened on November 22, 2002 with the season opener of the South Carolina women's basketball team. A near sell-out crowd of 17,712 fans saw the 72–58 Gamecocks victory over in-state rival Clemson, with a one-dollar admission charge, at that time 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, the Inferno never played there. The franchise suspended operations in 2008, but after plans for a new arena in neighboring Lexington County fell through, the franchise was finally canceled in 2014.

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 Spectra (formerly Global Spectrum), the facilities management subsidiary of Comcast Spectacor. The NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, then owned by Comcast Spectacor, 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 eventsEdit

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, Usher, R. Kelly, Kanye West, T.I., Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line, Carrie Underwood, Sons of Sylvia, Craig Morgan, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, 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.

On June 25, 2015, Paul McCartney performed at the Colonial Life Arena as part of his 2015 Out There Tour. The June 25 show was Paul's first performance in Columbia since he played Williams-Brice Stadium on May 7, 1993 as part of his New World Tour.


  1. "Crowd Revels in Future Arena", April 26, 2001, p. B1. Retrieved on February 4, 2012. 
  2. Book of 2005 Lists. Columbia Business Journal (July 11, 2005). Retrieved on March 12, 2016.
  3. Paul A. Gossen, P.E.. Geiger Engineers. Retrieved on January 7, 2013.
  4. What's on Deck?. SportsBusiness Journal (July 30, 2001). Retrieved on February 4, 2012.
  5. Colonial Center Name Change Approved. South Carolina Athletics (July 22, 2008). Retrieved on November 12, 2013.
  6. Kentucky Schedule (2009-10). Big Blue History. Retrieved on November 12, 2013.
  7. The Colonial Center Ranks 22nd Worldwide in Ticket Sales to its Events. South Carolina Athletics (January 16, 2004). Retrieved on November 12, 2013.
  9. "Oprah, Obama To Visit S.C.", WYFF, December 4, 2007. Retrieved on December 4, 2007. Archived from the original on December 26, 2007. 

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