The HTC Center opens for studentsby Brian Druckenmiller
The two-year wait is finally over. While the building is not fully operational yet, the HTC Center, CCU's new student recreation and convocation center, is now a reality.
Although the recreation and concession portions of the center are still closed, the gymnasium has been open for several basketball and volleyball camps. Also, there is a new campus bookstore. Moved from its original location at Baxley Hall, the bookstore, now named the Chanticleer Store, is a two-story, one-stop shop for everything Coastal; apparel is on the first floor, while textbooks and other merchandise are on the second.
“The new facility should be a real landmark for the students,” said Cindy Most, bookstore manager. “The new Chanticleer Store is another exciting change for the students and adds a new look and feel to all the merchandise.”
Designed by the Garvin Design Group of Columbia, the HTC Center houses more than 131,000 square feet, blending state-of-the-art equipment and resources with a contemporary look and atmosphere. Visitors are greeted with the natural lighting of the building’s skylight, stretching from one entrance to the other. The light shines on new furniture: high-tops for concession patrons and edgy S-shaped couches slithering between the tables.
Exercise equipment for the recreation side is currently being moved in, and will not be available for student use until Aug. 20. However, one can’t help but notice the 38-foot rock-climbing wall in the center, as well as the indoor track around it. In addition to these features and the brand new exercise equipment, students may feel like they are in a science fiction film upon entering the facility. A palm-reader is at the entrance; it recognizes each user’s palm in order to prevent non-students from using the equipment and for added convenience as students will no longer need to remember their student I.D.
“The new SRCC will offer students many opportunities that Coastal Carolina students have never had in the past,” said Jody Davis, director of campus recreation. “The building is for just our students; they will not have to share the space with anyone else. It will also be a great place to just hang out and chill.”
Davis says that with the additional space, the campus recreation is able to store and offer students equipment to explore the outdoors in the surrounding area. Students can visit the Outdoor Center and check out kayaks, camping equipment, bicycles, paddle boards and fishing equipment.
The gymnasium is the future home for the basketball teams and women’s volleyball squad. In addition to the president’s and hospitality suites, the arena holds 3,370 fans, approximately three times as many as Kimbel Arena. This is not only exciting for upcoming big-time match-ups, included a slated men’s basketball game against Clemson University, but for the entire Big South Conference. Coastal has made an agreement with the conference to host both the men’s and women’s conference tournaments for the next three years. Winners of these tournaments receive automatic bids into the NCAA Division I tournament commonly referred to as March Madness.
“This event will bring a significant number of visitors to our campus and the local community each year,” said CCU Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek. “Obviously, this would not have been possible without the ability to offer the HTC Center as the host venue.”
The impact of the new facility extends far beyond Coastal.“CCU has a tremendous positive impact on the Grand Strand,” said Brad Dean, president and CEO of Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. “The [HTC Center] will provide unique promotional opportunities and help attract new events to the area. I am expecting an economic and publicity boom!”
Other highlights of the center include new locker rooms (including one specifically for referees), a concession area offering a day and night menu, coaches’ offices, media/press room and a large hanging video scoreboard in the arena. Perhaps the best part, the building, specifically the recreation portion, will have extended hours for student use.
“Our operation is scheduled to run 22 hours a day during the fall and spring semesters,” said Davis. “It will be a tremendous challenge for all of our staff members to meet the growing needs of the student body. Expectation levels will definitely be going up.”
Once the facility is fully operational, its hours will be: Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 4 a.m.; Friday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to midnight.
A grand opening ceremony is slated for Aug. 20. From noon to 3 p.m., students are invited to sample the new recreational and exercise equipment, and perhaps (if the rumor mill is turning in the right direction) catch President Dave DeCenzo brave the rock wall. There will also be outdoor activities, including inflatables, for CCU students to enjoy. The public is welcome to attend a formal dedication ceremony at 5:30 p.m. where food and building tours will be available.
Since the groundbreaking on April 15, 2010, Coastal Carolina University and the community have been waiting patiently for the opening of the SRCC. The expected November 2011 completion date came and went as a result of issues with the subcontractor. Now, the building is open and a collective smile has formed throughout campus as the immaculate HTC Center represents one large step in CCU’s growth.