SoCon hoops returns! Here’s your guide to matchups, special events, parking and more — including free trolleys

SoCon basketball game file photo


The 2020 Ingles Southern Conference Men’s and Woman’s Basketball Tournament Presented by General Shale returns to the Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville March 5 – 9. 

Tickets are still available and there are lots of special events planned to coincide with the tournament, such as the Ingles Fan Experience, Downtown Dribble, Hometown Heroes Night, and Teddy Bear Toss! For a full look at SoCon events, visit this link.

Here’s what fans need to know about attending the games, as well as important information about traffic and parking.


Free trolleys, parking and traffic tips

New for the 99th edition of the basketball championships, and thanks to support from Ingles Markets, two free trolley routes will roll throughout downtown to help guests best access the Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville.  Trolleys will operate from two hours prior to the first game through 60 minutes after the conclusion of the last game daily.  

Trolley #1 shuttle stop locations:

  • Sears Alley Garage:  Corner of Sears Alley and Coxe Avenue.
    Wall Street Garage:  Corner of Page Ave and Batter Park Avenue.
    Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville:  Corner of Page Avenue and Haywood Street.

Trolley #2 shuttle stop locations: 

  • Renaissance Hotel: Main lobby entrance
    College Street Garage: At the College Street entrance (beside Bank of America)
    Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville:  Corner of Page Avenue and Haywood Street

Please note: There will be various parking lots and street closures during the event week. We encourage attendees to arrive early to avoid last-minute delays.


Street closures

The following street closures around the Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville will be in effect during March 4-9:

  • Wednesday through Friday, March 4-6: Hiawassee Street and Flint Street will close at 7 a.m.
  • Saturday, March 7: Hiawassee Street and Flint Street to be closed at 7 a.m.
    * Please expect elevated traffic during 8 to 11:30 a.m., due to the Southern Conference Downtown Dribble, presented by Champion Credit Union.
  • Sunday, March 8: Hiawassee Street and Flint Street will close at 11 a.m.
  • Monday, March 9: Hiawassee Street and Flint Street will close at 4 p.m.

Each day/night, streets will re-open after last game ends of that day ends. Time varies by game time and related aspects.


Parking lots

The City will have three parking lot closures to accommodate the participating teams during the tournament week. The lots will be clearly marked; your car could be towed if you park in them during this time.

    • Lot 18 at 63 Page Ave.: Diamond Parking Services lot directly across the street from the front entrance.
    • Lot 14: Open air parking lot, located on Rankin Avenue.
    • Lot 15: Open air parking lot, located on Rankin Avenue.
    • Gravel lot on Cherry Street (75 Cherry St. N., corner of Flint and Cherry streets)

For a full listing of available parking in or around the Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville, visit the directions and parking page. For real-time availability in City and County parking lots, download the free Asheville App for its Find Parking feature, and to learn more about venue-related parking solutions. You can also find the information via the City of Asheville’s Parking Services page.  



SoCon file photoWith the most competitive  tournament field in years, we encourage fans to purchase their tickets for the tournament as early as possible to ensure their spot in this hoops-heavy weekend. All VIP and lower level reserved seats are sold out; however, non-reserved general admission tickets remain for all sessions. 

Tickets are available for purchase online here or at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville box office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.


Special events

Ingles SoCon Experience: This free, fully interactive, and family friendly event space, located inside the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium lobby, features a pep rally stage, basketball themed interactives/activities, a big screen viewing area, and much more. The event space will be open one hour prior to game time until the end of games daily, beginning at 4 p.m. March 6. 

As part of the festivities, the event will feature a live performance from Joe Lasher Jr. at 4 p.m. March 8.

Find more information at this link.

Hometown Heroes Night (7 p.m. March 9): To honor the people and organizations that help enrich and keep people safe every day, members of the military, fire, police, emergency and medical services, charitable organizations, government, and civil service will be given a complimentary opportunity to witness the men’s championship game at 7 p.m. To claim their complimentary ticket, respective attendees  should visit the venue’s box office in person and bring a valid participating organization’s ID.  

SoCon Teddy Bear Toss (4 p.m. March 8): Make a donation to the Mountain Child Advocacy Center and you will receive a stuffed teddy bear to throw on the court during the 2020 Mission Children’s Hospital Teddy Bear Toss. The toss will take place during the 4 p.m. men’s semifinal. Bears tossed back onto the court will be donated to the Mission children’s Hospital for children receiving treatment but also to the North Carolina Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies to give comfort to children whose families are in accidents. Over 1,000 bears are available and ready to put a smile on a child’s face.


Children’s events

Education Day Programs: As part of the Southern Conference’s tournament community outreach, more than 5,500 local elementary and middle school students will join in on the festivities for planned activities on Thursday and Friday of the tournament.

Downtown Dribble
The Downtown Dribble is part of the SoCon basketball tournament.

The 2020 Southern Conference Downtown Dribble and Kids Fest presented by Champion Credit Union (9 to 11 a.m. March 7 at Pack Square Park): Children participating in the event will be provided a free basketball, T-shirt, and tickets to the noon session of games at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center. Children will enjoy a pep rally filled with inflatables, obstacle courses and more. Following the pep rally, children will dribble their SoCon basketballs in a parade from Pack Square to the Harrah’s Cherokee Center. To enter the venue for the tournament event, parents and children will both need a ticket for admittance. Tickets will be available for purchase at Pack Square Park and at the venue box office. For more Information, visit this link.


Plan your experience

March Madness is coming to Asheville this weekend and we can’t wait to see what teams will take home the championship trophy this year! 

For a full listing of games and schedules, visit this link.

Pro tip: The Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville, formally known as the U.S. Cellular Center – Asheville, has a great resource page – Plan Your Visit – for all guests to learn about ticketing information, directions, and venue policies.


Getting here

Due to the high volume of expected attendance over the five-day tournament, we encourage guests to arrive early to ensure ample time of traveling, parking, and, most importantly, cheering on your favorite team!