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The Tar HeelMonday, August 18, 198631
Observances from Minder the Carolina blue -dome
By EDDY LANDRETH
There is a majestic new palace on
UNC's campus, and the king of
college basketball holds court there.
The official name is the Dean E.
Smith Center, but it is more com
monly known as the Dean Dome.
As you approach the structure, you
are suddenly overwhelmed by the
enormity of it. The Smith Center is
the third largest on-campus arena in
the country, seating 21,444 for
basketball. Only Syracuse's Carrier
Dome and Brigham Young's Mar
riott Center are larger, in terms of
Most everything inside the build
ing is painted your favorite color of
blue, especially the interior of the
All the seats are the plastic-chair
type, rather than the old aluminum
bench version. This equates into
greater comfort for everyone's back.
The seats in the upper-most level are
all plastic, while those in the lower
areas contain a cushioned bottom,
Banners advertising past glories
gently wave in the cloud section,
instilling a sense of tradition as you
gaze about. -
The seating arrangement is laid out
so everyone has a good view of the
game. But in the upper-most seats,
even the tallest of men are reduced
just a bit. Before you complain about
the height of your seat, remember
if they still played in Carmichael, you
probably would not be there.
When you make that inevitable
trip to the restroom, you realize there
is a permanent line. Then you notice
the line is not moving because it's
Upon entering the facility, one of
the first things you notice is the many
plaques honoring those who contrib
uted the $33.8 million dollars neces
sary to build it. All the funds were
private donations, raised in a cam
paign led by former N.C. Gov.
Hargrove "Skipper" Bowles.
The first activity in the center was
not sports related, but a black-tie
fund-raiser, which yielded a collec
tion of $211,650 for the University's
College of Arts and Sciences. The
center was named that evening for
the University's resident legend.
The arena is adjoined to a swim
ming facility named for a former
University trustee, Maurice L.
Koury. It houses a 50-meter, eight
lane, Olympic-sized pool that will
make the University eligible to host
NCAA championships and Olympic
swimming trials. The pool should be
ready before the fall semester.
Because of the delays in the
construction process, the official
dedication ceremony was postponed
until this fall. There will be an alumni
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game of many of Coach Smith's
former players on Sept. 6, sometime
after the first football game. All of
Coach Smith's former players will be
invited, although they probably will
not all participate in the game.
The center has created so much
interest that there is a souvenir stand
open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5
p.m. weekdays. Tim Mee operates
the stand for the student store.
"Everybody who comes through
town has to come to see this place,'
Mee said he did a considerable
business most everyday. "The hottest
items are the boxer shorts and the
Dean E. Smith T-shirts," he said.
"Slightly more women buy the shorts
than men." The shorts are covered
with the word Carolina, printed in
(h) March of Dimes
5 C BIRTH DEFECTS FOUNDATION 111
light blue, of course.
Mee said he also served asr a
combination information booth and
guide. " People who usually come in
here are families," he said. "They
usually come by the carload, one at
a time, then the next load will come
The public has such an interest in
the facility that Dena Nail of the
sports information office is creating
a brochure explaining many of the
details about the building, including
the first game played and who scored
the first basket. By the way, the game,
which the Heels won 95-92, was
against the hated Duke Blue Devils.
Warren Martin will be remembered
as the man who scored first, on a
dunk off a Kenny Smith assist.
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