New basketball facility opens at University of Memphis

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - University of Memphis opened the doors to its new basketball practice facility Friday.

The Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center on UofM's Park Avenue campus is now a reality.

The center includes practice facility amenities, like a practice gym with more than 12,000 square feet of practice surface, a state-of-the-art locker room, coaches' office, a relaxing dining hall, and a recovery center complete with hydrotherapy.

"No question this is going to be a national standard, and it will be a national standard for years to come," UofM President Dr. M. David Rudd said.

The center also features a Hall of Traditions--a public access area that lets Tigers fans look back on the history of Memphis Tigers basketball.

It also features an academic support area, with a focus on helping student-athletes work on their schooling in a more convenient manner.

It's a practice facility that rivals the best in the country.

"This magnificent facility clearly demonstrates a strong commitment to academic and athletic excellence," Bill Laurie said. "Nancy and I are proud to help create a new state-of-the-art home for Memphis basketball and to be a part of this effort to elevate the future of the men's basketball program, while also celebrating the rich tradition and history through the Hall of Traditions."

The facility wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Bill and Nancy Laurie, who donated $10 million.

Bill was a former point guard for the Memphis Tigers who helped lead UofM to its first NCAA Championship game appearance in 1973.

"Our team built the foundation for this building," Bill said.  

As for the current team, this is a game changer not only in training but also recruiting.

"There are a lot of things that go into competing at the major college level, and competing for championships, but this will enhance our opportunities," said Tigers head coach Tubby Smith.  

"I mean this is a selling point," said former Tigers basketball player Elliott Perry. "You know, if you can't sell with this, you can't sell at all. From top to bottom it shows you again the history of Memphis basketball. It shows you what we're doing in the future."

The Bill and Laurie Walton Basketball Center is will be open for fans to check out on January 23 from 3 to 5 p.m.

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