The Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center was completed in April, 1986 and was dedicated on December 6 of that same year before a standing-room only crowd of 8,114 as Western Carolina hosted North Carolina State on the men's basketball hardwood. The first official game in the new building took place two-days prior as the women's squad downed Mars Hill on Dec. 4, 1986, by a score of 65-61. In 1999, the Ramsey Center also became the home venue for the WCU volleyball team.
More commonly referred to as the Ramsey Center, the on-campus building serves as the headquarters for Catamount Athletics as it houses most of the athletic department offices and the athletic training room. It is the home of Catamount Volleyball during the fall and plays host to both Catamount men's and women's basketball during the winter months. Locker room facilities for both basketballs, baseball and the Dale and Diane Hollifield Football Locker Room are also housed within the friendly confines with a myriad of dressing and locker room facilities that allow for multiple events and the hosting of tournaments.
In addition to the athletics facilities and main arena, the Ramsey Center has a large, full-court auxiliary gymnasium, as well as handball and racquetball courts. There is a large hospitality room that is utilized for a variety of events including pre-game receptions, meetings and press conferences.
Designed to accommodate cultural entertainment, recreational and athletics events, the facility can seat upwards of 9,000 people. The impressive multi-purpose facility - one of the largest of its type west of Charlotte in North Carolina - was built at a cost of $16.3 million and has over 205,000 square feet of floor space. A network of moveable curtains and adaptable staging allows the Ramsey Center to convert from a full-scale arena to a large auditorium, or to a more intimate area for smaller meetings.
Such entertainment acts as Aerosmith, Alabama, Billy Currington, Chicago, Fabolous, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Lorrie Morgan and Nappy Roots have played the Ramsey Center. Other featured appearances include the Harlem Globetrotters, appearances by the New York City Opera, Los Angeles Ballet and the Acting Company and lectures from famous personalities like Pat Summitt and former presidential candidate, Bob Dole. The building's flexible nature has allowed it to play host to a variety of events ranging from horticultural and craft conventions and meetings to indoor rodeos, monster truck shows and professional wrestling.
The Ramsey Center is the site of the University's graduation ceremonies every May.
Over the years, the WCU men's basketball team has hosted games with the likes of NCAA powers Kansas, Florida State, South Carolina and North Carolina State.
WCU has hosted the Southern Conference volleyball championship event several times, and has also clinched several SoCon Basketball Championships within the friendly confines of the Ramsey Center. The 1995-96 men's team claimed the South Division title at home while the 2008-09 squad earned a share of the North Division title with a home victory over Chattanooga. In 2006-07, the women's basketball team claimed a share it's first-ever SoCon regular season title at home, cutting down the Ramsey Center nets to commemorate the occasion.
Over the years, the athletic training room and locker room facilities of the Ramsey Center have been improved. From 2006-07, both the men's and women's basketball locker rooms received facelifts and expansions. New, wooden lockers and carpeting were added, as well as the addition of players' lounge areas including couches and entertainment centers.
Prior to the 2007-08 season, the programs unveiled the new, stadium-theater seating film room (Photo Gallery) with high-back chairs and state-of-the-art video equipment used for team meetings, film sessions and as the post-game media interview room.
The Ramsey Center's Auxiliary Gym has also seen upgrades in both equipment, as well as dressing up with the addition of logos and painted in the school colors.
In 2006, Daktronic computer-operated sideline tables and updated scoreboards were added to help heighten the fan experience at all home events.
Arena Benefactor and Namesake:
Western Carolina's arena was named for Liston B. Ramsey, a former Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives and a long-time representative of the 52nd District that included the mountain counties of Haywood, Madison, Swain, Graham and Jackson - the latter of which is where Cullowhee is located. His political service career spanned the better part of four decades.
Born in Madison County's Walnut community in 1919, Ramsey started his life in politics in his hometown of Marshall, N.C., following World War II. In 1960, he was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives where he served 19-consecutive terms in the state legislature and became one of its most influential members.
In 1981, Ramsey was elected Speaker of the House and would spend four terms in that post; he was the first legislator in North Carolina history to hold the Speaker's office for four terms. During his tenure as Speaker, he worked to transfer state funds to the often-neglected western mountain counties of North Carolina, building roads and other public facilities that would not have existed otherwise. The building which bears his name was one of his greatest accomplishments as he labored to secure funds for the construction.
Liston B. Ramsey died on Sept. 2, 2001.
Dedication: December 6, 1986
First Game / First Women's Basketball Game: December 4, 1986 - Western Carolina 65, Mars Hill 61
First Men's Basketball Game: December 6, 1986 - North Carolina State 96, Western Carolina 75
Men's Basketball First Win: January 5, 1987 - Western Carolina 90, Tusculum 58
First Volleyball Match: September 1, 1999 - Georgia State 3, Western Carolina 2
Volleyball's First Win: September 7, 1999 - Western Carolina 3, UNC Asheville 1
Top Men's Basketball Attendances:
1. 8,114 - vs. North Carolina State (12/6/86)
2. 6,024 - vs. Appalachian State (2/6/10)
3. 4,765 - vs. College of Charleston (1/25/10)
4. 4,577 - vs. Appalachian State (2/26/96)
5. 4,343 - vs. Chattanooga (1/14/06)
6. 4,217 - vs. Georgia Southern (2/10/07)
7. 4,121 - vs. Appalachian State (2/28/04)
8. 4,107 - vs. Appalachian State (1/28/02)
Top Women's Basketball Attendance: 2,178 vs. Chattanooga (2/10/07)