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A Coliseum Packed Full of History

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RALEIGH — From the chest shots of the early 50s to the slam dunks of the 90s, one thing has stayed the same in ACC basketball -Reynolds Coliseum.

When construction began in 1942, the floor plan was the same asDuke's Cameron Indoor Stadium. Construction stopped during World War II. When the building re-started in 1946,N.C. Statedecided to increase seating, which gave Reynolds its elongated rectangular floor plan. It opened for business in 1949.

Frank Weedon is the unofficial historian of Reynolds Coliseum. He first walked into the place in 1953 and has worked forState's athletic departmentin various roles ever since.

Weedon says the late Everette Case, State's basketball coach from 1946 to 1965, was the greatest innovator in Reynolds' history.

"He brought in the tradition of cutting down the nets after a championship," Weedon said. "He started that."

Over the years State had many great, and many not so great, teams that took the floor at Reynolds. But Weedon says two moments in half a century of history stick out in his mind.

"We were up against Pittsburgh and David fell down," Weedon said. "He fell down right over there at the far end where those players are practicing."

The year was 1974 when the great David Thompson fell over another player and hit the floor head first.

Watch the fall withQuickTime,RealVideo(for 28.8 modems), orRealVideo(for ISDN and faster).

"The whole coliseum went silent because everybody thought that he was possibly dead," Weedon said. "When they took him to the hospital, Walter Cronkite called three different times. He calledRex Hospitalto see how he was doing. Walter had been watching the game on national television."

Thompson was released from the hospital and returned to a thundering ovation.

Then, in 1993, beloved former coach Jim Valvano, then anESPNbroadcaster slowly dying of cancer, moved the crowd with an inspiring speech.

"Like everyone else, I was just so emotionally involved because of what he meant to the program," Weedon said. "But what he was doing, the suffering he was going through with the cancer, it was just one of the most dramatic things. Like David Thompson's fall, it's one of those things you'll never forget."

Watch part of the speech withQuickTime,RealVideo(for 28.8 modems), orRealVideo(for ISDN and faster).

His "Never Give Up" speech came on the 10th anniversary of Valvano and the Wolfpack winning the 1983 national championship. A few months later the coach lost his battle with cancer.

Frank Weedon is excited about N.C. State's basketball team moving to the new Entertainment and Sports Arena.

But growing can be painful. With 50 years of Wolfpack Basketball moving on, saying goodbye to Reynolds is like losing a member of the family.

Reynolds is not leaving the sports business, however. Men's wrestling, women's basketball and gymnastics will still call the historic arena home.