Cassell Coliseum, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011, has always proven to be a tough arena for women’s basketball opponents since the school sanctioned women’s basketball as a varsity sport starting with the 1976-77 season.
|Seasons in Use||40th Season|
|Overall Record||370-185 (.667) Games: 555|
|ACC Record||24-66 (.267) Games: 90|
|vs. Non-Conference||242-75 (.763) Games: 317|
|vs. Ranked Teams||16-52 (.235) Games: 68|
The program’s first win in the arena came on Jan. 18, 1977, when the Hokies beat Emory & Henry 49-48. Tech went 4-3 at home that season and has been winning games at Cassell ever since.
The Hokies’ first win over a ranked opponent came on Dec. 19, 1984, when they beat No. 16 LSU 86-77. A decade later, they beat No. 19 Southern Miss 60-50 at Cassell, and in 1995, Tech upset No. 9 Virginia 69-62 en route to its first NCAA Tournament bid. In the 2000-01 season, Tech beat No. 17 Virginia and No. 24 Villanova at home. In 2010, the Hokies downed No. 10 North Carolina 79-64. The Hokies’ most recent upset of a ranked foe came in 2013 when they knocked off No. 19 Florida State by a score of 71-52.
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.
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.
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.
For years, the arena was called the Virginia Tech Coliseum. But on September 17, 1977, Virginia Tech officials and friends dedicated the coliseum in honor of the late Stuart K. Cassell, who spearheaded the project. In the late 1950s, Cassell, who was the chief business officer at the time and later became the vice president of the school, saw the need for a new basketball arena to replace the outdated War Memorial Gymnasium, and he eventually managed to get the state legislature to approve the building of the 8,000-seat arena. Cassell, though, found a seat manufacturer that made seats a little smaller than normal seats and squeezed an extra 2,000 seats into the building, bringing the capacity to 10,000.
Since that time, Cassell Coliseum has undergone many renovations and additions to make it the building it is today. The latest addition came in the fall of 2013 when Tech officials hired Panasonic to install two new video scoreboards with high-definition LED displays on each end of the arena. The scoreboards are 18 feet high and 29 feet wide – m ore than double the size of the previous video scoreboards – and enhance the fan experience. Combined with a new video scoreboard for Lane Stadium, the Hokies’ football home, and a new control room, the project cost nearly $7 million.
Other improvements have been made. 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. In 2001-02, the seats were stripped of their original paint and refinished to retain their natural wood look. 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.
Through new projects, renovations and maintenance reserve projects, Cassell Coliseum has undergone approximately $10 million in improvements over the past decade.
675 Washington Street, SW
Blacksburg, Va. 24061