Miami fans will no longer cheer on their basketball teams at the Convocation Center. As of Wednesday, the Hurricanes’ home has been renamed the BankUnited Center.
The renaming of the 7,000-seat Center comes after a BankUnited donation spearheaded by the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, Alfred R. Camner, who is a UM alumnus. His wife is also an alumna, as are all but one of his children, who is currently a student at the University.
“Our financial support will enable UM to continue to offer outstanding educational opportunities to talented young people,” Camner said. “Today’s announcement represents a win-win partnership.”
Both Camner and his wife received UM basketball jerseys with their names and the number one on the back.
Camner said that his ties to the University run deep, as he grew up in Coral Gables, played tennis on the UM courts, went to football games as a child and read books in the campus library.
The family hopes to receive its sixth UM degree when Andrew, the youngest son, graduates. He is now a freshman in the School of Communication.
UM President Donna E. Shalala said the University appreciates the partnering.
“This Center has become a tremendous community asset, so much that the Dalai Lama said he wants to come again next year,” Shalala said.
Shalala also thanked City of Coral Gables Commissioner Maria Anderson for her support and said she hoped the City would be supportive of the University’s wish to expand the number of seats at the Center.
Efforts are already under way to transition the BankUnited name and logo to interior and exterior signage, according to a University press release.
Neither the University nor BankUnited will disclose the amount of the donation to the Center. However, according to Sergio M. Gonzalez, vice president for university advancement, the funds will primarily be used for support of the Center and for the athletic department.
“This is a magnificent gesture,” Paul Dee, director of intercollegiate athletics, said.
The facility, which opened in January 2003 and cost $48 million to build, is home to UM’s basketball teams. It also houses Commencement exercises every semester and has hosted numerous concerts and speakers, as well as the presidential debate last year.
“It’s very exciting for the University,” Pat Whitely, vice president for student affairs, said. “It’s certainly one of the highlights of the semester.”
Students expressed mixed feelings about the Center’s new name.
“I like that they’re naming it after a family where everyone went here,” Camille Smyth, senior, said.
Other students looked forward to changes that are expected to come with BankUnited’s donation.
“I’m looking forward to a better center for the University,” John Constantinide, speaker pro tempore of the Senate, said. “A center that is more attractive for students and the community, because we’re not the only ones that use it.”
Student Government President Pete Maki said it will probably take some time for the new name to stick.
“It’s going to take people a semester to get used to it, at least until new freshmen come in,” Maki said.
Julia Gonzalez, senior, agreed.
“I think seniors are going to have a problem with it because it’s been engrained in us that it’s the C-Center,”she said.
Students at the press conference also said that they might start calling the new center the “buc” (for BankUnited Center) instead of the C-Center.
Patricia Mazzei can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.