State Funding Approved for New GSU Convocation Center

Unofficial conceptual rendering showing the location of the proposed facility

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed off on the state’s FY2020 budget early Friday afternoon, including $48 million for Georgia State’s new desperately-needed convocation center and basketball arena. Earlier information provided by university sources indicates the project will be paid for in part by private donations and other university funds, although the exact amount of those contributions remains unclear.

The university has remained fairly tight-lipped with details on the new facility, simply commenting that a new home for commencement, sporting events and community use was in the works. The location has been confirmed to be the former site of a Department of Drivers Services office at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Fulton Street, just north of Georgia State’s Blue Lot. Unofficial conceptual renderings surfaced in 2018 showing a sleek, modern arena with multiple tiers of seating, hospitality suites, classroom space and other amenities.

Unofficial conceptual rendering showing the interior of the proposed facility with a view of the Atlanta skyline

Georgia State President Mark Becker referenced the project in this year’s State of the University address, saying that the university is in the process of “working with architects and others to complete our plans for the 8,000-seat convocation center”. The GSU Sports Arena currently has an official capacity of 3,854 – a bit more than half the number of degree candidates who participated in commencement ceremonies this week.

The Sports Arena’s small size necessitated multiple smaller ceremonies for each semester’s graduation, with individually-ticketed admission for a limited number of guests. As the university grew to over 30,000 students toward the end of the 2000s, it became apparent that the facility was no longer adequate for events such as convocations and commencements. With nearly 53,000 students this past academic year, the problem is now much worse.

Undergraduate commencement has occurred at multiple off-campus locations in the past decade to cope with record numbers of graduates. Commencement ceremonies with open, unticketed admission occurred at the Georgia Dome between 2007 and its closure in early 2017. Commencement officials struggled to find suitable replacement venues in the ensuing months, eventually settling on Georgia Tech’s 8,600-seat McCamish Pavilion. McCamish hosted Spring and Fall 2017 ceremonies amidst significant pushback by graduates citing frustration and concerns over ticketing procedures.

Georgia State Stadium became the permanent home for Spring commencement ceremonies in May of 2018. Fall ceremonies will ostensibly remain at Georgia Tech until the anticipated completion of the new Georgia State convocation center during the 2021-2022 academic year.

Conceptual renderings originally from Praxis3.

Jordan Crawford

Publisher and Technical Director at THERSday Night. Freelance digital media specialist at Jordan Crawford Enterprises, LLC.

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