The Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center has been the home of North Carolina men’s basketball since Jan. 18, 1986, when the arena’s first game featured a top-five matchup between No. 1 UNC and No. 3 Duke, a 95-92 UNC win.
The Smith Center was entirely funded by private gifts, yet no gift exceeded $1,000,000. It also includes the Koury Natatourium, the home of the UNC swimming and diving teams. It cost $33.8 million originally and was renovated in 2001 for $150,000. The Smith Center seats 21,750.
At 313,255 sq. ft, the Smith Center currently stands as the fifth-largest collegiate basketball arena in the United States. Before the Smith Center opened, UNC men’s basketball played home games in Charmichael stadium, and before Charmichael opened, Woolen Gymnasium was the home of basketball.
Throughout his career, legendary North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith always had six words for his players. Now, decades later, Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham has six similar words for his department — six words that summarize its new strategic plan, which was released today.
The following story originally ran in the March 30, 1982 edition of The Daily Tar Heel.
NEW ORLEANS — And on the seventh try, Dean created national champions.
UNC coach Dean Smith, after six previous trips to the final four, finally came away with the big one — the NCAA collegiate basketball title — as the North Carolina Tar Heels beat the Georgetown Hoyas 63-62.
It was a night to remember — literally.
Friday evening at the Smith Center, North Carolina’s professional basketball alumni came home to pay homage to both themselves and the history they are all a part of.
“I mean, anyone who played here, was a manager here, we all went through the same things,” former power forward and national player of the year in 1998 Antawn Jamison said.
“You put on that jersey, you represent this University and this community the same way. And for me to be part of, is something that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”