Cheer On the Gamecocks: A USC Basketball Game Experience For the Whole Family

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Wondering what it’d be like to go to a University of South Carolina basketball game? Thinking about bringing the kids along? Whether you’re a die-hard Gamecock fan or planning your first trip to Colonial Life, we hope to answer all of your questions. We’ve got all the helpful hints you’ll need for bringing kids, information on parking, ticket purchases, tips for entering Colonial Life Arena, and more from a mom who recently went to a game with her family. 

Colonial Life Arena Gamecocks USC game

Fans Love Colonial Life Arena

Colonial Life Arena is home to both the women’s and men’s Gamecock basketball teams. It holds a whopping 18,000 fans, making it the 10th largest on-campus basketball arena in the nation! Before entering the arena itself, you will be greeted with a beautiful fountain and statue of A’ja Wilson, a Gamecock women’s basketball legend. 

Upon entering through the main doors, you will see a beautiful mural of a Gamecock on the floor. As you continue your walk around the arena, you will see vintage jerseys and other memorabilia from some of the most well-known Gamecock basketball players and teams. 

Gamecock mural at Colonial Life Arena

Why a Basketball Game? 

College basketball games are a great event for couples, families, or even groups of friends to enjoy! Not only is it thrilling to cheer on your team to victory alongside thousands of other fans, but the Gamecocks also have some note-worthy players that you won’t want to miss seeing on the court.

You will also have the chance to hear the Carolina Band, also known as the “Mighty Sound of the Southeast” play. During the halftime show and timeout segments, the USC cheerleaders and dance team come out to perform and keep the crowd involved as well. 

Gamecock Basketball Teams 

The Lady Gamecocks: USC Women’s Basketball Team 

The Gamecock women’s basketball team has been in the spotlight for several years now, and rightfully so! They are coached by Dawn Staley and have won the NCAA National Championship in 2017 and 2022. They have also won the SEC Championship 5 times! There are usually around 10,000 fans who show up to cheer on “The Lady G’s”, making it an atmosphere that you just can’t find in any other college basketball arena! 

Gamecock Men’s Basketball 

The men’s team is coached by Lamont Paris and this is his first year as the Gamecocks head coach. Throughout the last 3 seasons, the men’s team has sold out Colonial Life Arena 5 times! My family and I recently went to a men’s game and had a fantastic time cheering on all of the players and watching the new coach in action! 

Gamecocks Basketball game at USC in Columbia, SC

Purchasing USC Basketball Tickets 

If you’re looking to go to a specific game, your best option is to purchase those tickets well in advance. This way you will not have to worry about them selling out AND you might be able to find the tickets for a bit cheaper. Both teams are known to have large crowds in attendance, but this is ESPECIALLY true for the women’s team, particularly when they play against other SEC teams. 

There are several ways you can go about purchasing basketball tickets. You can do so by going to the Gamecock Ticket Office, found at 1304 Heyward Street, online at Ticketmaster, or you can purchase tickets directly from Colonial Life Arena.

The box office at the arena is open every Tuesday from 9 am to 5 pm for ticket purchases as well as on game days.

Pricing depends greatly on rankings, who the opposing team will be, and when you purchase. 

Colonial Life Arena: Columbia, SC

Helpful Hints Before You Head to the Game

What Can You Bring? Colonial Life Arena

Outside food and drinks are not permitted within the arena. However, there are several concession stands located throughout Colonial Life with delicious options such as: pretzels (my son’s personal favorite), candy, hamburgers, nachos, drinks, and much more! 

Some other things that aren’t allowed inside Colonial Life include:

  • Strollers
  • Noisemakers
  • Selfie sticks
  • Water bottles 
  • Binoculars 

Colonial Life Arena is Clear Bag Only!

Be aware that there is a clear bag policy at Colonial Life Arena. This means no diaper bags, backpacks, fanny packs, etc. Medically necessary items are the only exception to the rule. However, they will most likely have to be inspected and tagged before entry.

Tips for Bringing Your Kids Along 

The doors to the arena will open 1 hour before the game. That being said, I recommend getting there about 30 to 45 minutes before game time. This will give you and your littles plenty of time to go through security, find your seats, use the restroom, and get situated before the excitement begins. 

Speaking of excitement, you won’t want to miss all of the pre-game events! This part of the game always gets my kids into it, draws their attention to the court, and gives them something stimulating to look at. During the pre-game you can expect the band to play some Carolina favorites, flashing lights, small fireworks as starting players are announced, cheerleaders, and the oh, so popular “Sandstorm” to really get the crowd going! 

My kids love to look around and find the mascot, “Cocky” as he dances around the court. Pro tip: If, or better yet, when, your kids start to get wiggly, play who can find Cocky the fastest – works every time! 

Some other ways to keep your kids involved during the game:

  • Go for a walk around the arena at halftime 
  • Let them choose a snack from the concession stands
  • Keep their attention by explaining what is happening on the court 
  • Encourage them to keep track of the score 
  • Teach them some of the chants 
Jerseys on display at Colonial Life Arena

Where to Park for Gamecock Basketball Games 

Where can I park at the Colonial Life Arena?

There are several different parking options for Colonial Life Arena. There are parking garages, meter spaces, and public parking lots that can be found within a block or two of the arena. My family often parks at the Discovery Plaza Garage. We like this option because we can just cross over 1 street and be at Colonial Life. There is a small fee for parking in most places around the arena, usually between $10 and $20. 

Colonial Life Arena 
801 Lincoln Street

Have you ever been to a Gamecock basketball game? What was your experience like? 

Kayla Simmons
About the Author
Kayla grew up right outside of Charleston, SC and is a proud graduate of the University of South Carolina. She has lived in Columbia for a combination of 5 years. Kayla has a background working with special needs children, but now enjoys nothing more than being a stay-at-home mom of two. She enjoys keeping her kids busy by finding unique play spaces and events, involving them in hands-on activities and watching them learn about the world through play. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercise and spending quality time with her family and friends.

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