Siegel 2.0 – Considering a new Coliseum

The Virginia House of Delegates recently passed a bill that would allow the RMTA (Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority) to build, own, and operate a new arena in the Richmond area. This arrangement would allow surrounding counties to contribute, as well as private sector funding to contribute to its construction.

The existing Coliseum, built in 1971, has taken a toll from the elements and aging infrastructure, which has led to many arena-sized performance groups moving their acts to John Paul Jones arena in Charlottesville. The case for a new Coliseum presents itself as an opportunity for the city to bring the entertainment back to Richmond, in addition to significant revenue potential. If anything, it would be a more lucrative deal for the city than the Redskins training facility, which is only open two weeks out of the year.

If a project to replace the Coliseum comes to fruition, it begs the question: what will VCU’s involvement look like, and could this be a potential home for VCU men’s basketball?

Reasons To Invest in New Coliseum:

  • More seats to fill. There is still a waiting list for VCU season ticket holders, which means that the university has sold every possible seat in advance, and demand is higher than supply. Economics 101. More seats sold = more money coming in to the program.
  • Arena atmosphere. Some of the biggest basketball programs in the country seat over 10,000 fans. Imagine if VCU were able to fill those seats throughout the season. Recruits would marvel at the program. Opponents would dread the trip to Richmond. VCU in an arena puts the Rams in a whole new class.
  • Tournament host site. A 15,000 seat arena would put Richmond on the map as an NCAA tournament host site (as well as regular season tournaments). More eyes on VCU hoops.

Reasons To Stay at Siegel Center:

  • 83 CONSECUTIVE SELLOUTS. That’s a strong number, one that VCU boasts with pride. No program in the A-10 comes close, while cross-town rival Richmond Spiders struggle to fill seats.
  • Gameday Atmosphere. The Stu is arguably one of the best college basketball atmospheres in the country. Why? Because on gameday, it is bursting at the seams with rabid VCU fans. Remember VCU vs. Butler? I couldn’t hear my OWN voice on that particular day.
  • Basketball Development Center. It’s right next door. Players live at Ackell, walk 200 ft past the Siegel Center to get to their second home.

Ram Nation has a poll going on the forums right now, and the general consensus is a resounding NO. It all comes down to this:

Would you rather see 10,000 people in a 15,000 seat arena, or 7,600 people in a 7,600 seat venue?

VCU fans pride themselves in the atmosphere they’ve helped create, the very same atmosphere that all 3 incoming freshmen indicated helped seal their recruitment to VCU. Would you welcome a larger arena, and if so, why? We’d love to hear your input in the comments below.


Matt has been reporting on VCU sports for Ram Nation since 2007 with a focus on news, photos, and feature stories.
  • Kyle W
  • May 23, 2016
Expand the Stu if possible to 10k seats. That being said PLEASE keep the mens hoops program on the Monroe part of campus where it belongs!
  • Wayne
  • May 23, 2016
Seems like a larger venue is needed and could be engineered to have moveable seating for different customer's ( I e circus, tennis, wrestling , music)
  • Rusty
  • May 23, 2016
VCU worked for decades to get a wonderful "on campus" facility. Yes, I'd love to see 2000, 4000 maybe 8000 more seats and I think in time we would fill them, but I also hesitate to move off campus. I remember when I was a student and loving games at Franklin Street simply because I didn't have to walk all the way to the otherside of downtown. The Stu is now so convenient for students and the students add so much to the atmosphere. Maybe a new arena could be built somewhere on the west side of downtown (not sure of the availability of land). Then it could have the duel purpose of being The Home of VCU Basketball and being an arena for the entire Richmond Metro area.
  • Ritch LaTulipe
  • May 23, 2016
Expand the Stu. 10k. Should have done it two years ago.
  • Charlie wright
  • May 23, 2016
If it ain't broke don't fix it. I lived through how 8000 look and sound in a 12000+ arena. Dukes done pretty well in a similar situation

I can't get seasons tickets today, but I say leave it alone.
  • Tim M. Hanger
  • May 24, 2016
I attended VCU games at the current Coliseum and it was a joke. In addition to ongoing poor maintenance, it provided NO home court atmosphere. Scheduling was a nightmare as well. We need to stay with the STU. It would be very foolish to change what we have gained since building our own facility.
I would dispute the idea that more seats sold equals more money for the program (as odd as that sounds). Basically the demand of a sold out Stu has doubled ticket prices from when I was an undergrad (I remember tickets being just $12 for some games around 2007 whereas some games now are $50 face value for general admission) AND has greatly increased the donations needed to get rights to season tickets. So if you can find the expansion number that still allows the Stu to keep the sellout streak going (8,500? 9000?) you can in fact keep growing revenue...BUT...if you hit a number that makes it so fans can easily acquire tickets, it can really drive down ticket prices while reducing the number of season ticket holders (because they can now buy tickets much easier day of) as well. That said, with more fans you are guaranteed to produce more ancillary revenue but all of that stuff comes with an expense attached to it as well, so not as profitable as just a high ticket price and/or season ticket with the donation attached to it.

For my money the best thing for VCU will be to slowly expand the Stu to ensure the place stays sold out (a Marshall Street side expansion being the obvious next big step). I think 9,000 would be my max number...and just imagine 9,000 in the Stu and not a larger arena....that would be darn intimidating.

THAT SAID...the city of Richmond still needs a new Coliseum in my opinion. While I'd prefer VCU only plays a certain number of games there per year (VCU v UVA at the new Coliseum? VCU v Richmond?), I LOVE the idea of Richmond being an NCAA tournament regional host site. That would be a blast. I'd also just love big national acts returning to Richmond.
  • David Long
  • May 24, 2016
I've said for years thst a new coliseum should be built off of the boulevard in the same complex as a new ballpark. Build several parking decks to accommodate both events. Tear down the current Authur Ashe facility and call the entire complex with the new coliseum and ballpark the Arthur Ashe Complex.

I also say keep VCU at the Siegel Center. After experiencing both it is without question that the RAMS should stay put. Great Atmosphere with high level basketball that has been very successful. What more could you ask for.
    • Anonymous
    • May 28, 2016
    That's what I'm saying. Build the new baseball stadium at the Virginia ABC site, then replace The Diamond (along with the Arthur Ashe Center and maybe the Sports Backers Stadium) with the new arena and tons of parking to accommodate both venues. Then, let private investors buy land around it and build mixed development.

    Like you said, keep most of the games at the Stu, but move games against better competition (Ex: UVA, St. Joseph's, etc.) at the new arena to sell more tickets, etc. That way they could still play at the arena if it hosts an NCAA tournament round.
  • Jerry Radford
  • May 24, 2016
NCAA regional basketball (men & women), plus the NCAA National finals for women's basketball have already been played in Richmond, hosted by VCU.
  • May 26, 2016
The answer is simple.... DUKE!!!
For years they tried to build a mausoleum for Coach K in Durham to rival the palace they built 8 miles down the road in Chapel Hill named the Dean Dome (23,000). But "K" would have none of it. He agreed to a slight expansion from 7,800 to 9,000 but that was it. He knew the value of having those Cameron Crazies packed into the place game after game. Hands down the best home court record in college BB and the record to prove it. Follow Duke and Coach K on this one. Keep the Siegel Center a place where the RAMS have a true home court advantage right there on Broad Street in their own backyard!
  • Gary Wun
  • June 1, 2016
Oh how so soon we forget. When you share a facility you no longer hold your own fate. We NEVER could get a home date in February at the Coliseum because the circus came to town, while also having to share dates with hockey, concerts, and other activities. During the season the floor was so cold because it was layed over a sheet of ice for hockey. If you think VCU Basketball will get first choice of dates you are sadly mistaken because there is no way they let an attraction pass up coming to this building at the expense of a VCU Basketball game. We fought HARD to get away from the Leigh Street nightmare, there is no way we should return.