Campbell University traded in one of the smallest basketball facilities in the country for one of the finest in its conference.
The school officially dedicated the John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center on Oct. 17.
Campbell leaders say the new building is a dream years in the making.
The dedication ceremony featured ribbon cuttings representing each of the buildings' contributors — from major donors and board members to students, faculty and staff.
"This was one of the greatest examples of giving and sacrifice that Campbell has ever known," said Campbell University President Jerry Wallace.
The $34 million center measures 106,000 square feet and contains administrative offices, locker rooms and strength conditioning facilities for the men's and women's basketball teams, volleyball team and wrestling team, as well as lab and classroom space for the exercise science program, video production areas and the Campbell Sports Hall of Fame.
The focal point of the new building is the 15,360-sq.-ft. Gilbert Craig Gore Arena, which seats up to 3,782 for athletic events with additional seats for special concerts, graduation activities and other community and regional events.
The 5,944-sq.-ft. R.P. Holding Sr. Student Fitness Center contains features state-of-the art exercise equipment including a climbing wall. The McCall Practice Gym contains more 7,000 square feet of space.
"I'm really impressed with all of the work that went into the building," said junior Rob Viohl. "I didn't know it would be this big. I miss Carter Gym, but this is nice."
Stan Cole, associate athletics director for Media Services, said the building would boost morale.
"No doubt we have one of the nicest facilities in the A-Sun Conference," he said. "Ask coaches about players' mentality when they walk into new buildings. Now we have help recruiting. They'll see the Convocation Center and want to come back."
Space and facilities aside, it was the character and class of the center that impressed alumni Robert Blackman ('72). His daughter Ashley also attended Campbell, graduating in 2006.
"I think this building is very appropriate and well-deserved," he said. "It's is what you would expect from this university."
About 600 people attended the dedication ceremony including major donors Arthur Pope, president of the John W. Pope Foundation; Ed and Dinah Gore, developers from Sunset Beach; Frank Holding, son of Robert P. Holding, Sr. founder of First Citizens Bank of North Carolina; and Robert and Patricia Barker of the Bob Barker Company, a manufacturer of detention supplies.