Posted by Philip Poole on 2007-03-07

Samford University's board of trustees has approved official names for a new athletics and special events facility scheduled to open in fall 2007.

The $32 million building will be named Pete Hanna Center in honor of the Birmingham businessman and Samford trustee who provided a major gift for the project. Trustees earlier had approved the Hanna name for the building.

At Hanna's request, the 5,000-seat arena in the new building will be named Thomas E. and Marla H. Corts Arena in honor of Samford's president emeritus and his wife. Corts retired in May 2006.

The new 130,000-square-foot building will house the arena, as well as a fitness/wellness center and offices, locker rooms and training facilities for the university's athletics department. Arena seating can be expanded to 6,000 for commencement and other special events.

Michael D. Morgan, Samford's vice president for university relations, noted that other naming opportunities still are available in the new building and will be part of a $3 million campaign this year to complete funding for the facility.

"We are so grateful for Mr. Hanna's transformational leadership gift and the other gifts that are making possible this grand new facility," Morgan said. "But, we still need about $3 million to completely fund the project."

Additional naming opportunities include the athletics center on the first floor, the fitness/wellness center, individual rooms and a plaza linking Hanna Center with Bashinsky Fieldhouse, Seibert Stadium, Joe Lee Griffin Stadium and the Bulldog Spirit Plaza.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.