Colonial Life Arena
|Former names||Carolina Center (2002–2003)
Colonial Center (2003–2008)
|Location||801 Lincoln Street
Columbia, SC 29208
|Owner||University of South Carolina|
|Broke ground||April 25, 2001|
|Opened||November 21, 2002|
|Construction cost||$65 million
($85.5 million in 2019 dollars)
|Architect||Rosser International Inc.|
|Structural engineer||Geiger Engineers|
|General contractor||Beers Construction|
|South Carolina Gamecocks (NCAA) (2002–present)
Columbia Stingers (NIFL) (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.
History and use
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.
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 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. 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.
Ticketing is provided by New Era Tickets, and tickets can be purchased through the Arena's web site.
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, Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line, 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.
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.
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.
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