The University of North Carolina Tar Heels will have the honor of being the first basketball team to play against the ‘Canes at UM’s new convocation center next year.
The game on Jan. 4, 2003 will herald the unofficial opening of the center after a semester’s worth of delays.
Nine of the men’s basketball games will take place in the facility – five of which will be nationally televised on ESPN and CBS – as well as nine of the women’s basketball games for the 2003 season.
“The general consensus is that having this building on campus benefits men’s and women’s basketball teams and will help in recruiting and attendance,” said David Touhey, operations manager for the convocation center.
“One of the big complaints students have always had is that they would go to games if they did not have to go downtown.”
“Who wants to get on the metro?” junior Ronnie Ozuna asked. “[The convocation center] will be more convenient to attend the games, instead of having to go all the way to the Miami Arena.”
Plans for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a community open house will be announced in upcoming weeks.
When asked about construction Touhey said:
“No major problems; you know there are different things from time to time, as there is in any type of construction, but no, construction has been going along great,” he said.
The target date for the opening of the center was previously scheduled for fall 2002 but was postponed until early 2003, said assistant athletic director for communications Mark Pray in an article in the Feb. 15, 2002 issue of the Hurricane.
Pray cited problems with attaining steel for the installation of the roof of the center as the reason for the delay.
With a total estimated cost of $48 million, the as yet un-named convocation center, located at 1 Dauer Dr. on the UM campus across from the University Metrorail station, will be the new home for the Hurricanes men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as 27 executive suites.
The center is a multipurpose three-story arena consisting of 184,000 sq. ft. and 7,000 seats.
“The center creates a good atmosphere for campus life. Different kinds of cultural events, speakers and concerts exhibits can now be hosted on campus because there is a facility of significant size that can handle the performances,” Touhey said.
Complete with carpeted locker rooms, a player lounge area, a training weight room and banquet facilities, the center will also be used to host commencement, lectures, academic conferences, and community events.
“Events such as concerts are just starting to be scheduled for the beginning of next year,” Touhey said. “We are working with a lot of national and local promoters to bring in shows.”
Another advantage to having our own convocation center is more on-campus job opportunities for students, Touhey said.
“I would love to hire student employees to be ushers, ticket takers and box office personnel,” he said.
The convocation center was originally going be named the Ryder Center, but then Ryder gave the naming opportunity back to the University after they decided to change their involvement in the project.
Ryder System, Inc. donated $9 million to the project.
UM is currently searching for another sponsor for naming rights to the center.
For more information, or for pictures of the University of Miami convocation center, visit http://hurricanesports.ocsn.com/ot/convocation-flash.html.