CONWAY — Coastal Carolina University’s on-campus recreation and convocation center is preparing for its upcoming debut, and the new home of Chanticleer basketball and volleyball now has an official naming sponsor on board for the occasion – and for the foreseeable future.
The university and Horry Telephone Cooperative (HTC) formally announced Thursday that they have partnered on a 20-year sponsorship of the 131,000-square-foot building – to be called The HTC Center – that will also house the school’s official bookstore along with an indoor track, climbing wall and other fitness equipment for students.
As for the athletics component, the building will seat 3,370 spectators – more than tripling the Chants’ former home at Kimbel Arena – and will be formally unveiled for the students later this month.
“You couldn’t ask for a better day for the entire university,” CCU President David DeCenzo said after the news conference Thursday. “Again, to have a partnership with an organization like HTC just blends two phenomenal organizations in this community and keeps us together.”
DeCenzo declined to reveal the financial commitment made by HTC to secure the naming rights, and CCU athletic director Hunter Yurachek said because the agreement was between the private entities of HTC and the school’s Chanticleer Athletic Foundation, no financial details would be made public.
DeCenzo did say that in addition to a cash gift, HTC would also be providing in-kind services such as infrastructure wiring as the campus continues to grow.
“We saw it as an investment in the community,” HTC CEO Mike Hagg said. “... If it benefits Coastal Carolina, Coastal Carolina is going to drive a lot of things in the community. If it’s successful, it’s going to help the business community, it’s going to help the residents.
“This isn’t about just educating the students here. The entire community is going to come in here and utilize this.”
The HTC logo was already emblazoned inside and outside of what had been known only as the Student Recreation and Convocation Center before Thursday’s announcement. The building, which the university initially hoped to open in time for the 2011-12 basketball season before construction delays, ended up costing about $35 million, Yurachek said.
As for finding a sponsor, the Chanticleer Athletic Foundation took the lead on that process.
“Our athletic foundation worked with a national company first to try to identify potential national entities based on what we were trying to acquire for the naming rights to the facility,” Yurachek said. “But then it became more and more evident that this was a community facility and we had a potential community partner right in our own backyard.”
In regard to the 20-year agreement, Hagg said both sides wanted a long-term pact.
“Considering we’ve both been around since the 1950s, we’re not short-term companies. We’re not short-term institutions,” he said.
The HTC Center is all but finished with exception to some signage that is in production right now and could be completed by the first part of September, Yurachek said. He also confirmed that the school has a signed contract for the men’s basketball team to open the upcoming season at home against Akron on either Nov. 9 or 10. The Coastal women will play their first home game Nov. 12 against N.C. Central, while the volleyball team gets the first shot to debut the facility on Sept. 21 against Winthrop.
“I’m really so excited about it,” CCU women’s basketball coach Alan LeForce said. “I walk around in here and I think I’m visiting some place. This is going to be great. This is going to enhance our programs.”
Said DeCenzo: “You just have to smile. For me, I can’t wait until our students, who arrive roughly Aug. 16, [see it]. For them, they’ve not seen the inside of this building. For our sophomores and above, they’ve not had a facility like this. And I’m just looking forward to the first time they walk through these doors. I had said I want a wow factor, and I think when you walk in these doors you have to say ‘Wow.’”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.