Published on January 13, 2007 by William Nunnelley  
Posted by William Nunnelley on 2007-10-17

Samford University will open its new $32-million Pete Hanna Center during a series of Homecoming events this weekend. The 132,000-square foot multipurpose facility is the largest single building constructed in the 50-year history of Samford's Shades Valley campus.

A 5,000-seat arena for basketball and volleyball is the centerpiece of the new facility. But before the first games are played, Samford will underscore the multipurpose nature of the building by hosting a lecture, a dedication gala and a big-name concert in the structure Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18-20.

Walter Isaacson, author of the book "Einstein: His Life and Universe," will deliver Samford's annual J. Roderick Davis Lecture Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The program is open to the public free.

Hanna Center will be formally dedicated Friday at 6 p.m. in the plaza level lobby on the east side of the new structure. A homecoming gala dinner will follow on the arena floor.

Little Big Town, the Grammy-nominated country music group, will present the first concert in the center Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

Hanna Center will seat 6,000 for concerts, graduation programs and other events with the addition of 1,000 seats on the arena floor. A key component of the structure is a 12,000-square foot fitness/wellness center for all students. In addition to the latest fitness training equipment, the center includes rooms for aerobics and other activities.

Hospitality areas in the new center can be used for special events.

The center also houses an athletics center with fitness and weight rooms, sports medicine and training areas, locker rooms and meeting rooms for teams, a student-athlete academic center, offices for coaches and administrators, a chapel and other facilities.

The center is named for Birmingham businessman and Samford trustee Pete Hanna. At his request, the arena within the center is named for President Emeritus Thomas E. Corts and his wife, Marla Haas Corts.

A former Samford football player, Hanna is chairman and chief executive officer of Hanna Steel Corporation. With headquarters in Fairfield, Ala., the privately-held company operates coil-coating facilities in Fairfield and Pekin, Ill., tubing operations in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Pekin, and Hanna Truck Line, which delivers its products.

"Pete Hanna is one of the outstanding unheralded citizens of this community," Corts said earlier. "He has a great heart. This man has done more quiet, unknown charitable kindnesses than any man I know. He has built a business on Christian principles and on concern for his employees–all the while, helping others."

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.