Stephen C. O'Connell Center
Florida’s Stephen C. O’Connell Center has a reputation around the Southeastern Conference and throughout the nation - enthusiastic and friendly if you’re a Gator … noisy, deafening and menacing if you’re the opposition. When you watch the Gators play in the O’Connell Center, you hopefully not only go home with a win, but also with a smile on your face.
UF welcomes its competition, affectionately know as “Gator Bait,” with a pre-match show like none other. Spotlights, four video boards, a light show and thunderous music highlight the team introductions before the crowd erupts in darkness. As the lights burst on, the whistle for the first serve blows. Additionally, Florida’s mascots – Albert and Alberta, the band, cheerleaders, the Dazzlers dance team, state-of-the-art shutter lighting system, four video boards, in-game statistics boards, and, of course, the best fans in the country provide an atmosphere that is unmatched in Division I volleyball.
The Gators play on their own volleyball-specific floor, which has been home to many Gator volleyball achievements. The O’Connell Center played host to Florida’s 58-match home win streak (Oct. 14, 1990-Sept. 4, 1994), which at the time was the nation’s longest winning streak. The O’Connell Center is such an intimidating venue that the Gators have posted nine undefeated seasons at home and have won nearly 94 percent of their matches at home since 1991 – one of the top percentages in the nation.
It has been the home venue for First and Second Round competition in 20 of the last 22 years. 11 NCAA Regionals have been contested in the O’Connell Center, four of which sent the Gators to the NCAA Final Four.
“Our success is due in part to the support we receive both by the UF administration and the community,” UF head coach Mary Wise said. “We have in the O’Connell Center a venue that is one of the best places to watch and play volleyball. Our fan base has created an atmosphere where a home match is an event.”
The Gators have ranked among the nation’s top-10 in attendance for 20 of the last 22 years. In 18 home matches during the 2012 season, more than 44,000 fans passed through the turnstiles for an average of 2,468 fans per match.
The Gator Attack Club, Florida’s volleyball booster organization, is one of the largest groups in the nation. The members sponsor the season-ending banquet, as well as other approved activities, and supports visiting teams during tournaments as well.
The Rowdy Reptiles are the official student group of Florida athletics. The Rowdy Reptiles united together create a home field advantage for Gator teams and generate an electric atmosphere at all venues. The Rowdy Reptiles support all Gator teams and are rewarded for their dedication to the Gator Nation by receiving points and various levels of prizes when they attend home athletic events.
At Florida, Gator volleyball players interact with their fans in all kinds of ways, including signing autographs after matches. Post-match spikeline and several clinics throughout the year also are offered. The 20-time SEC Champion Gators make the atmosphere at home matches enjoyable for fans of all ages.
|All-Time O’Connell Center Record|
|All-Time Record||Under Mary Wise|
|All-Time Top 10 O’Connell Center Volleyball Crowds|
|4. Florida State.||11/9/93||6,132|
|5. Penn State||9/10/10||6,022|
|6. Ole Miss||10/12/01||5,831|
|8. Miss. State||10/11/02||5,521|
Home of Champions
- Florida is one of only four schools in the Southeastern Conference to compete in its school’s main athletics arena.
- The Gators have played host to 11 NCAA regionals, including four since the advent of pre-determined sites prior to the 2003 season.
- Florida has hosted NCAA First and Second Rounds in 20 of the last 22 years.
- The Gators have ranked in the nation’s top-10 in attendance in 20 of the last 22 years.
- Florida has won nearly 94 percent of its home matches since 1991 and is 357-23 during that span.
Built at a cost of $14 million, the O'Connell Center (named for former UF President Stephen C. O'Connell, 1967-73) has become the showplace for college volleyball in the Southeast. In 1999, the O'Connell Center received $10.3 million worth of renovations. The old bubble top was replaced with a permanent cap and internal improvements were made, as well. Just in time for the 2006 NCAA Volleyball Regional, a nearly $3 million video installation project was completed. Four 12’ x 16’ video boards, which feature high quality, 10-millimeter resolution, as well as full-color ProAd LED panels, were installed.