Reynolds Coliseums past, present and future ensured thanks to renovations

The House that Case Built is ready for the next generation of Wolfpack athletics after massive construction.

Everett Case built it. Norm Sloan hung up the first banner in its rafters. Jim Valvano brought it the most unlikely championship in NCAA history. Kay Yow captured more than 700 wins, many of which took place inside its hallowed halls.Reynolds Coliseum may be undergoing massive changes, but the ghosts of its past will never fade. The historical landmark on NC State’s campus is undergoing massive changes, reimagining the space with an eye on both the past and the future.A massive overhaul of the court is taking place to update the look and feel of Reynolds, including media and TV control rooms, a brand new scoreboard and the school’s Hall of Fame. Original seats and the famed noise meter insure Reynolds retains its historic spirit.PastWhether it was being the original site for the ACC Tournament, the Dixie Classic or the Southern Conference Tournament, Reynolds featured big-time basketball in the south since its opening in 1949.It was rejuvenated under Sloan, Valvano and Yow on multiple occasions, with the ACC running the college basketball world during the 70’s and 80’s. With 11 ACC titles between Sloan, Valvano and Yow from 1970-91, Reynolds was the place to be for Wolfpack fans.For NC State legend and 1983 champion Dereck Whittenburg, that allure will never go away.”The memories made in Reynolds will last a lifetime,” Whittenburg said. “Not just playing, but the countless hours of practicing and camps that I participated in. Even one instance where I was on the stage in 1985 as Ronald Reagan came in. My Senior Day with my parents. It’s hard to put into words how much that place means to me, so to see life breathed into it is great.”Memories for the opposing teams were not quite as fond.”Reynolds Coliseum at NC State was the toughest place I played while in college,” former Duke player and current ESPN broadcaster Jay Bilas said. “Reynolds was loud, edgy and intense. The Wolfpack under Jim Valvano were a tough out and the games were always fistfights. But the thing I remember most is coming back to a huddle and seeing lips move, but not being able to hear what was said. It was so hot and loud that your head would spin.”The legacy of Reynolds is about so much more than basketball. Prior to men’s basketball leaving Reynolds for PNC Arena, there were an estimated 20 million visitors to the historic coliseum. Of those patrons, only eight million were for basketball games.While the days of the Rolling Stones and Elton John playing in the old Reynolds have come and gone, those huge events remain on the walkway around the court. Lining that hallway are “Reynolds Historic Moments,” including past ACC Tournaments and Everett Case cutting down the nets in 1965, the first recorded occurrence of the now storied tradition.”Reynolds Coliseum might be the most important building ever funded by North Carolina,” Tim Peeler said. “For what basketball has meant to the state and what Reynolds has meant for the culture, there is no building outside of maybe the state capitol that has had a bigger impact on as large of a region.”That’s all the more reason for Reynolds to be preserved. Sure, everyone remembers the great games that took place and moments for NC State basketball. But it’s one of the most important buildings on campus for so many other reasons.”Whittenburg’s favorite memory does come from a basketball game. However, it’s not one that most long-time fans might remember fondly.”It shouldn’t be a favorite, but the game where I hurt my foot is the one I’ll remember the most,” Whittenburg said with a laugh. “I actually had 27 points at the half, so it should have been one of my highest scoring games of my career. It also helped us win a national championship. It’s a bittersweet one, but I’ll never forget how that day affected that entire season.”PresentCollege basketball is still the calling card for the ACC, with four of the last eight national champions residing in the conference. NC State doesn’t currently reside at the top of the food chain, but the ACC wouldn’t be where it is today without the creation of Reynolds.”Reynolds Coliseum is why ACC basketball is the biggest draw for college athletics in the south,” Peeler said. “It’s the reason for the growth of popularity of the ACC Tournament. That’s what Everett Case’s vision was when he expanded and elongated it, was to have the best and biggest — and it was.”When Reynolds opened in 1949, it was the largest basketball facility between New York and New Orleans. As arenas have grown and become homes for multiple sports — like PNC Arena sharing NC State men’s basketball and Carolina Hurricanes — Reynolds has been dwarfed by other massive venues.Instead of looking to bolster the amount of seats, NCSU opted to make the sporting events more intimate. Going from a max capacity of just over 8,000 before the project to 5,500 for basketball and 6,000 for other events, the reduced seating fits perfectly for the remaining sports.Women’s basketball, gymnastics, wrestling and volleyball don’t draw the same numbers as men’s basketball drew in its hay day when capacity was nearly 14,000. Several seats may have been taken out, but the popcorn smell remains on the nearly 5,000 chairs that remain from the previous configuration.”The majority of the seating is still from 1949,” Associate Athletics Director for Communications and Marketing Fred Demarest said. “It was conceptually something that made sense. But we also think fans will be pleased that they can still sit in the same seats they grew up with or their family grew up sitting in.”Along with the original seats, Reynolds also features something players, fans, musicians along with current and former presidents have requested for decades — air conditioning. The cool air is already pumping throughout Reynolds for construction workers. It’s probably cooler in August now than it ever was during a December home game.The true gem of the project is the NC State Hall of Fame. 30 former players or coaches were already inducted into the Hall, but there was no true home before the Reynolds overhaul.That was one of the most obvious reasons for the renovations, and there was no more better location to honor Wolfpack players and coaches. “We needed somewhere that adequately recognized our history and what better place than Reynolds?” Demarest said. “It was really the only place for us. As far as athletics are concerned, Reynolds is an iconic facility. We just needed to find the right configuration to make it something our fans could be proud of.”Much like the rest of the renovations, the Hall of Fame has a modern look with metal panels all across the top floor and a staircase with a statue of three wolves leading up to it. Names like Ted Brown, David Thompson, Sam Esposito along with Valvano, Case and Yow will all have their rightful place in Reynolds.FutureReynolds isn’t getting men’s basketball back after the renovations and the smoky popcorn smell is probably gone as well. A lot of the elements that made Reynolds perfect for NC State fans are no more, but it was a necessary to keep the Raleigh staple alive.Imagine this: NC State’s campus without Reynolds. That was part of the concern for the athletics department when the project was originally being discussed. Now, the future is a very real for future Wolfpack fans.”It’s a place that has touched and impacted people of not just this generation but every person who has stepped foot on this campus,” Demarest said. “One of the biggest additions for Reynolds are the cases that surround the court as fans walk to their seats. Glass cases encase history for all 23 teams on the “Walk of Fame” to show off the Wolfpack’s accomplishments across all sports.It’s a great way for fans to remember their history, but also an asset for each of the teams on the recruiting trail.”I think Reynolds becomes a tremendous recruiting tool,” Whittenburg said. “First of all, the four programs that play there now have a state-of-the-art facility. Secondly, for the rest of the programs to be able to show off their accomplishments to young athletes is important. You can’t overstate the value these changes have on recruiting.”When the doors open, all cases will be as current as possible prior to the season. But Demarest expects each one to change on a regular basis as the entire department continues to add to its list of accomplishments.”We have the ability to add to displays when new benchmarks are set,” Demarest said. “It doesn’t end here because our teams are making strides on a yearly basis. We thought about the next generation because we want to continue to make sure this facility is reaching its maximum efficiency.”The project will ultimately total $35 million, with $20 million coming from the athletics department and $15 million coming from the university. It was a true collaboration by both sides to add yet another reconstructed facility alongside Talley Student Union and the massive undertaking at Harrelson Hall.Unlike those projects, the outer structure for Reynolds remains the same. But with all the projects taking place to beautify NC State’s campus, building toward a brighter future for Reynolds only seemed natural.”It was absolutely critical,” Demarest said of upgrading Reynolds. “It’s right next to Talley, so we had to have something that married the two together. Now you’re going to have two gorgeous facilities right next to each other that students can enjoy for decades to come right here on campus.”While Reynolds’ past is laced with great memories, the renovations set to roll out in September were necessary to ensure a bright future for the cherished building.Kay Yow Court may be ripped up, but remnants of the flooring are spread around the concourse. “The House That Case Built” still has touches of his greatness throughout the walkways. Decades of blood, sweat and tears aren’t being forgotten, just resurrected.