The Patriot Center serves as the home of George Mason University men's and women's basketball and is one of the finest on-campus facilities on the East Coast. The arena, which opened in 1985, continues to be a gem on the scenic Mason campus, but on basketball game nights, an avid George Mason following transforms the elegant edifice into a raucous and intimidating home court advantage.
The Patriot Center offers fans excellent sight lines and has 9,523 permanent theater-style seats, yet retains an intimate home court atmosphere. The facility has attracted basketball fans from the entire Washington metropolitan area since it opened on October 4, 1985. The inaugural event was a NBA exhibition game between the New York Knicks and the Washington Bullets, with the sellout contest marking the professional debut of Patrick Ewing. Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs also made his first professional appearance in an exhibition contest at the Patriot Center in 1997.
The Patriot Center houses the men's and women's basketball offices and the offices of Washington Sports & Entertainment, which manages the facility.
The building will undergo a renovation in the coming years to create more amenities for the fans and a greater environment as part of the facilities master plan.
While basketball remains the primary tenant, the multi-purpose facility also hosts a wide array of family programming, concerts, sports and entertainment events. An October 8, 1994, Phish concert set the overall attendance record of 10,356. Other headline acts, which have performed in the Patriot Center include Jimmy Buffett, David Copperfield, Prince, Alan Jackson, REM, Neil Diamond, Barenaked Ladies and Hillary Duff, among others. Family entertainment acts such as Sesame Street Live and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus return annually.
Men's Basketball History at Patriot Center
George Mason played its first men's game in the arena on November 26, 1985, against local rival Maryland. Over the past 24 seasons, 1,216,881 fans have passed through the turnstiles to see the Patriots play.
That first year of 1985-86 held the single-season attendance mark of 62,555 until the Patriots shattered it in 2006-07. The Patriots drew 88,837 fans the year after making the Final Four and they pushed the school record for total attendance to 90,920 last year. In 2007-08, the Patriots drew the two largest crowds in school history. On Feb. 2, 2008, Mason had 9,840 fans on hand to see a 73-46 win over James Madison. That crowd was matched on Feb. 16, 2008 against UNC Wilmington. This past season, Mason tied that mark in a 64-53 win over Northeastern on Feb. 14, 2009. For the third straight season, Mason drew more than 88,000 fans.
George Mason hosted the first ever Colonial Athletic Association Tournament in the building in 1986. Over its 24 seasons of play at the Patriot Center, George Mason has posted a .705 winning percentage with an overall record of 220-92. The Patriots set a school record for wins at home in 2003-04, earning a 14-1 mark and this past season, the Patriots tied it while having the first unbeaten season at the Patriot Center, going 14-0. Over the past 11 years, the Patriots have been nearly unbeatable with an overall record of 123-21, 85-10 against CAA opponents.
The aesthetically pleasing Patriot Center has hosted numerous national caliber opponents. Colorado, Georgetown, Louisville, Maryland, Penn State, Ohio State, Southern Illinois, Villanova, Virginia, West Virginia, Mississippi and Tennessee, among others, have all made visits to the arena. The Patriots set a school and facility scoring record in a 148-132 win over Troy State on December 12, 1994.
Women's Basketball History at Patriot Center
Since 1985, the Patriots have compiled a record of 136-96 at the Patriot Center for a .586 winning percentage.
Last season, Mason won three games at home, two of which in Colonial Athletic Association play including the Feb. 22 victory over Old Dominion. The Patriots' 63-57 victory before a crowd of 1,214 was the first time in program history that Mason had defeated the Lady Monarchs, ending a stretch of 44 straight losses. Two weeks earlier, Mason topped Georgia State, 63-59 in front of 3,073 fans, the second-highest total in Patriot history.
In 2007-08, the Patriots ended the season with a 6-8 record at Patriot Center, including an unprecedented run of five straight home wins to open the season.
For two straight seasons (2004-06), Mason hosted the CAA Women's Basketball Championship at the Patriot Center. In 2005, five of the nine games were decided by five points or less for the first time in league history. Second-seeded Old Dominion earned a 78-74 victory over top-seeded Delaware in the only overtime game ever played in the CAA title contest. In 2006, Old Dominion edged out James Madison, 58-54, for its 15th-straight CAA Championship title.
A number of significant Mason performances have come at Patriot Center as well.
During the 2004-05 campaign, Mason collected a 60-35 win over BIG EAST member school, Miami, on Nov. 30. The Patriots held the Hurricanes to just eight points in the first half, which was tied for second in the NCAA Division I record books for fewest points scored by one team in a single half.
On Feb. 1, 2004, Mason set the school record in three-point field goals made with 15 in a 92-64 win over Hofstra in front of a Patriot Center season-high 2,275 fans where.
The win over UT-Chattanooga on Nov. 24, 2001 featured a historic Patriot Center and CAA freshman-record 41-point performance from standout guard and then-freshman Laura Kooij, as Mason tied a school record with 10 three-point baskets in the victory.
Several hundred spectators witnessed the Patriots host their first-ever postseason tournament contest in 2001-a 66-56 loss to Georgetown (Mar. 14)-after totaling 11 home victories, the most home wins ever in a season.
On Jan. 23, 2000, a record-breaking 3,152 fans were on hand as the Patriots fell to CAA foe East Carolina, 91-79. This number broke the attendance record of 2,811 that was set in the 1997-98 season when JMU slipped by Mason, 68-67 (Jan. 18).
On Jan. 3, 1999, Trish Halpin became the all-time blocked shots leader in George Mason history as she swatted block number 137 against Old Dominion in the Patriot Center.