Cassell Coliseum, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011, has always proven to be a tough arena for women's basketball opponents, especially over the past 14 seasons in which the Hokies are 161-58 (.735) at home.
The Hokies' best home season came in 1998-99, as Tech roared to a 15-0 mark in the friendly confines of Cassell. Going back two games into the 1997-98 season and extending through the 1999-2000 opener, Tech won 18 straight at home.
Tech is 112-46 over the past 10 years in Cassell, with 30 of the losses coming against teams that advanced to the postseason. The Hokies have defeated 77 of the past 84 non-conference opponents at home. Two of the non-conference home losses coincidentally occurred on March 23 - a 77-72 overtime defeat against Houston in the 2002 WNIT semifinals and a 61-48 loss to Penn State in the second round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
Equally as impressive as the Hokies' play at home has been the tremendous number of people who have come to watch them play. Averaging 5,221 fans per game in 1998-99 and having a sellout at the then-10,052-seat arena, Tech shattered its women's basketball attendance marks. In the past 13 years, Tech has played before 627,742 fans at home, an average of 3,047 per game. In the 2010-11 season, the Hokies averaged 2,359 for 17 home contests, which ranked 59th in the nation.
Cassell Coliseum was the site of a sub-regional in the 1999 NCAA Tournament. In that marquee event, the Hokies played in front of packed houses and picked up wins over St. Peter's and Auburn to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16. Tech also played host to the 2004 NCAA Tournament first and second rounds, with the Hokies defeating Iowa 89-76 in the first round before falling 61-48 to Penn State in the second round in front of 7,128 fans, the eighth-largest crowd for a women's game in Blacksburg.
Overall, the Hokies have compiled a 331-143 record in Cassell Coliseum for a winning percentage of 69.8 in the 35 years they have played in the campus arena. On Sept. 17, 1977, Tech officials and friends dedicated the coliseum in honor of the late Stuart K. Cassell. Cassell became a member of the university administration in 1945 after 17 years as a student and teacher at Tech. He successfully convinced the Board of Visitors of the need for a modern basketball facility.
Construction for the main portion of the Coliseum began in 1961. It was completed in December 1964, at a cost of $2.7 million. Built by T.C. Brittain and Company of Decatur, Ga., it houses the basketball arena, locker rooms, two auxiliary gymnasiums, offices and other athletic facilities.
Prior to the 1988-89 season, a new spring-loaded playing floor was installed. In 1996-97, workers replaced the roof of the facility and installed structural access to the heating and lighting systems. They also restored and resealed the exterior concrete walls and buttresses.
Since that time, the seats have been stripped of their paint and refinished to retain their natural wood look (in 2001-02), and new video boards have been added to both ends of the coliseum to provide for live action and video replays during all games (2000-01). Prior to the 2003-04 season, the concourse area was renovated and now features more accessible concession areas, new flooring, video monitors that allow fans to watch the action when not in the arena and the addition of Hokie Stone to many of the entrances to the seating area. Through new projects, renovations and maintenance reserve projects, Cassell Coliseum has undergone approximately $2.5 million in improvements over the past six years.
The Jamerson Athletics Center, connected to the rear of Cassell Coliseum, was completed in 1982 and dedicated in the fall of 1983. It is named in honor of J.E. Jamerson and his son, William E. Jamerson, owners of the firm that constructed the building.
The complex contains administrative and coaching offices, athletics department accounting and business offices, team and coaches' meeting rooms, a weight room and the Gordon D. Bowman Memorial Club Room on the top floor for Hokie Club members.