Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill

4.6
The Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center (commonly known as the Smith Center or the Dean Dome) is a multi-purpose arena in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The arena is home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels men's basketball team, and temporary home to the women's team during renovations to Carmichael Auditorium. Opened in 1986, it is the fourth-largest college basketball arena in the United States.
The arena is named after former North Carolina men's basketball coach Dean Smith, who coached the team from 1961 to 1997. Smith coached the last 11.5 years of his career in the arena, making him one of the few college coaches in any sport to coach in an arena or stadium that is named for him.
In the years prior to opening the Smith Center, UNC basketball played its home games in Carmichael Auditorium . Although Carmichael was fairly new, having opened in 1965, basketball's popularity overwhelmed the 10,180-seat facility, and "you had to know somebody who knew somebody" to get into a game. As early as 1979, talks began for a new arena. With the hope of accommodating every fan who would want to attend a game, the plans became very ambitious. Money was raised entirely from private donations, using neither university funding nor taxes. According to David Halberstam's biography of Michael Jordan, Smith did not want the arena named after him, but was persuaded by the UNC administration and the arena's backers that fundraising efforts for the facility could fail if they did not use his name. The site chosen for the arena was a wooded ravine south of the main campus, and construction began in 1982. On the first day of construction, contractors were banned from wearing Duke or N.C. State apparel on the job site.
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Dean E. Smith Center Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
140 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • Wear your favorite UNC blue shirt and come cheer for one of the best college basketball teams! Due to the size of the stadium, there are plenty of nose bleed seat, so chose your tickets wisely-- worth...  more »
  • I've been a big UNC fan since I was about 12 years old. I've watched a lot of games from this center but haven't visited it before. We were in town and my kids and myself stopped by to just see it. Ve...  more »
Google
  • Heaven for any tar heel fan! A great place to watch UNC men's basketball. Lots of food choices including burgers, hot dogs, pizza, ice cream, chicken sandwiches, popcorn, and more. Seats are comfortable, big screens offer great views from every angle. You know you're a tar heel when you have chills as the team runs out on the court.
  • The cheapest seats are not comfortable but you have a great view of the court from the top. Still awesome to watch Tar Heels basketball games in! The Tar Heels play like their lives depend on the game! I wish I could be one of them!

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