December 29, 1997
GREENVILLE -- After playing its home games off campus for virtually all of the last 50 years, Furman University basketball enters a new era Tuesday night when the Paladins play host to Northeastern Illinois in the inaugural contest in Timmons Arena, the school's new, 5,000-seat on-campus facility.
"This is dream come true for many Furman fans, young and old, for current and former players, and the entire university community," said Paladin head coach Larry Davis following his team's practice on Monday. "It's an honor for everyone currently in our program to move into such a fine facility on America's most beautiful college campus."
Furman's contest against Northeastern Illinois, scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., will mark the first of 10 home games the Paladins will play in Timmons Arena, which will also serve as the home court for the university's women's basketball and volleyball programs.
During construction of the 100,000 square-foot arena, which began in August of 1996, Furman's men's basketball program played its home games at the tiny Herman W. Lay Physical Activities Center on campus. Prior to that, Furman played its home basketball games at Greenville Memorial Auditorium from 1958 to the facility's close in 1996. Old Textile Hall served as the home of Furman basketball for several years prior to the university's move from downtown Greenville to its present campus in the late 1950s.
In addition to featuring two regulation-size basketball courts and a permanent, elevated stage, the facility includes offices and locker room facilities for men's and women's basketball, volleyball, and football, as well as offices for sports information, and a 7,000 square-foot strength and conditioning center that will serve the university's entire 17-sport intercollegiate athletics program. Arena seating features both bench and chair-back styles, and is collapsible to allow the available floor space to be used for a variety of activities.
The lead gift of $4 million for the facility was provided by longtime Furman supporters William R. Timmons, Jr. '49, Jean Timmons Pelham '42, and Charlie and Kitty Wells '48 Timmons. Bill, Jean, and Charlie are children of the late William R. Timmons '14.
At the time of the gift's announcement, Bill Timmons, chairman of Greenville's Canal Insurance Company, longtime university trustee, and recipient of an honorary degree from Furman in 1995, recalled that his family's association with the university dated back to his father's enrollment in 1910. His father's brother, Charles Edward Timmons, Jr., also attended Furman before volunteering for World War I, during which he was killed in action.
"My brother and sister and I have followed Furman basketball since the end of World War II," said Timmons. "We feel that an on-campus facility will greatly increase interest in Furman basketball in much the same way that Furman football has prospered in Paladin Stadium."
Located just southeast of the home stands at Paladin Stadium, Timmons Arena features a main entrance and wings made of brick, with the rear constructed of split face block and insulated metal panels. Stanmar Inc. of Stanbury, Mass., which specializes in constructing athletic facilities, is the designer and builder.