|Former names||Carolina Center (2002-2003)|
Colonial Center (2003-2008)
|Location||801 Lincoln Street|
Columbia, South Carolina 29208
|Public transit||The Comet: |
Routes 28, 52X, 63, 101, 201, 301, 401, 601
Amtrak Silver Star at Columbia
|Owner||University of South Carolina|
|Broke ground||April 25, 2001|
|Opened||November 21, 2002|
|Construction cost||$65 million|
($92.4 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 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 the rebranding by Unum (which by then had moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee) of Colonial Life & Accident as Colonial Life.
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 $1 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, 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. 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.
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.
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.
Ticketing is provided by New Era Tickets, and tickets can be purchased through the Arena's web site.
Other events held at the Arena have included Disney on Ice, High School Musical: The Concert, Sesame Street, American Idols Live!, Trans-Siberian Orchestra every December since 2005, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus (until 2017), ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, and WWE Raw.
Artists that have performed at the arena over the past 17 years include: The Eagles, Cher, Billy Joel, Elton John (in '05, 2019, and 2020). Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (who played the first ever show at the Arena, on December 9, 2002), Prince & The New Power Generation twice (in 2004 and in 2011), Aerosmith in 2004, Jimmy Buffett 3x (in '04, 2010, and 2020), Britney Spears in 2004, Pink in 2019, John Mayer in 2007, Def Leppard with Foreigner, Journey with Steve Miller Band, Cheap Trick, Mötley Crüe, Kanye West in 2004, B2K, Jamie Foxx, Lil Jon, Soulja Boy, T.I. in 2013 with Jeezy, Lil Wayne, Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood a few times (once in 2010), Jason Aldean in 2014, Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line, Craig Morgan, Taylor Swift four times (with Rascal Flatts in 2008, 2010, with Needtobreathe in 2011, with Ed Sheeran in 2013), Ariana Grande in 2019, Miley Cyrus and Metro Station in 2009, Justin Bieber in 2013, Bruno Mars in 2014, James Taylor in 2015 and '19, Kenny Chesney a few times (once in 2015), Blake Shelton with Luke Bryan in 2010, Zac Brown Band in 2012, Eric Church in 2012, Lee Brice in 2013, Darius Rucker twice (in 2014 and 2017), R. Kelly four times, Usher in 2011 with Akon, Drake with Kendrick Lamar in 2012, Cardi B with Offset in 2019, Post Malone in 2020, Chris Brown in 2014, The Weeknd w/Gucci Mane in 2017, Trey Songz, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Coolio, Skillet, Nickelback with Chevelle in 2006, Pearl Jam twice (first with Kings of Leon in 2008, and in 2016), Red Hot Chili Peppers twice (in 2012 and 2017), Weezer in 2019, Maroon 5 twice (in 2016 w/Tove Lo), the Foo Fighters with The Struts in 2017, Imagine Dragons in 2018, and Five Finger Death Punch with Three Days Grace in 2019. Columbia's Hootie & the Blowfish came to the Colonial in fall 2019 with the Barenaked Ladies for 3 nights. Kanye West's return to the Colonial Arena (part of his Saint Pablo Tour) in December 2016 was cancelled, and The Chainsmokers concert (part of their Memories Do Not Open Tour) in May 2017 was cancelled.
Britney Spears 2004 The Onyx Hotel Tour
Taylor Swift 2011 Speak Now World Tour
Drake 2012 Club Paradise Tour
Nickelback 2006 All The Right Reasons Tour
Pearl Jam 2008 Pearl Jam 2008 United States Tour
Red Hot Chili Peppers 2012 I'm with You World Tour
Foo Fighters 2017 Concrete and Gold Tour
Aerosmith 2004 Honkin' on Bobo Tour
Elton John 2005 Peachtree Road Tour
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 The New World Tour.
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 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.