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N.C. State Basketball Starts New Heritage At New Arena

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RALEIGH — ForNorth Carolina State basketball,Friday's 67-63 win against Georgia in its new home is a new beginning, and the end of two traditions: Reynolds Coliseum and long-timeP.A. announcer C.A. Dillon,who called his final game Friday night.

While the new Entertainment and Sports Arena will afford room for more Wolfpack fans, more space was also the reason for Reynolds.

Frank Thompson Gymnasium first housed N.C. State basketball until Coach Everett Case expressed a need for a larger arena -- a place where more fans could watch Wolfpack basketball.

Thanks in part to a fund by William Neal Reynolds, Wolfpack basketball took up a new residence in 1949.

Reynolds Coliseum hosted the Dixie Classic, the ACC tournament and NCAA tournament games.

But the "Old Barn" ran out of space and in 1983, former N.C. State coach Jim Valvano began a campaign for a state-of-the-art facility.

"Today, we have a dream," Valvano said before his death of bone cancer in 1993. "We dream of building another arena. An arena where new legends will be born."

N.C. State athletic director Les Robinson said he hated to close out Reynolds Coliseum, but walking in the new arena eased the pain.

"The looks on the people's faces, from grandparents, and people who have been out of school for 50 years to the current students, and all in-between, their faces and expressions really tell the stories," Robinson said.

Robinson would like to see the new arena host a NCAA Tournament Regional one day.

"I can see no reason why not," Robinson said. "I can't talk a lot about that since I'm on the committee that selects those places, but I would certainly think when the committee looks at this place, it would be high on their list."

Basketball coach Herb Sendek says he realizes this is a historical moment for North Carolina State.

"There is no escaping the fact that there is a lot of excitement in the air," Sendek said. "Everyone, who is participating, wants to do well, and want their best."

"Guys have been working extremely hard for opportunities like this."

After 16 years of planning, dreaming and spending money for the new arena, the time has finally come.

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Jeff Gravley, Reporter
Jeff Gravley, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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