By Nico Zulli
The Ferrell Center will celebrate its 25th birthday on Sunday. Generations of Baylor Bears share in the memories that have been made under its distinctive golden dome.
From cheering on the Bears to walking across the stage for commencement, the Ferrell Center has seen many events over the course of its 25 years.
Placed on almost 14 acres along the banks of the Brazos River, the Ferrell Center opened its doors in 1988 with a political rally for former President Ronald Reagan.
Though the inaugural event in the arena was a political rally for Reagan, many students remember the Ferrell Center as playing a role in their inauguration into Baylor.
“My first time ever stepping foot in the Ferrell Center was my freshman year to attend a ‘jungle party’ social event for freshman,” said Houston senior Hilary Cooper. “I will never forget that event because I made friends there that have remained my close friends during my four years at Baylor. And I can’t wait for the most special event that will take place for me in The Ferrell — when I walk across the stage as a Baylor graduate.”
Others remember being impressed by hearing prominent student-athletes address the Baylor community for the first time.
“One of my favorite memories of the Ferrell Center was hearing Brittney Griner speak for the first time on the last day of Welcome Week,” said 2013 alumna Taylor Epps.
And some Baylor students became familiar with this campus icon years before they officially became students.
“Since both of my parents are Baylor graduates, I would always go to Baylor basketball games in the Ferrell with my parents growing up,” said Plano junior Meredith Beall. “We were faithful fans.”
While some students only recall more sentimental remembrances, others find themselves laughing at their more humorous experiences.
“One of the funniest things that ever happened to me at Baylor happened when I was at a women’s basketball game in the Ferrell Center,” said Colorado Springs, Colo., senior Ashley Bearden. “The band started playing that song where you thrust your hips, and they put me on the big screen all alone.”
The Ferrell Center serves as the home for Baylor basketball, volleyball and other special events.
The center’s most famous asset, the dome itself, weighs in at approximately 175 tons and is constructed of structural aluminum beams covered with gold panels.
During its construction, the dome was suspended by 32 cables on a 220-foot tower which was stabilized by only seven cables.
The Ferrell Center houses the Paul J. Meyer Arena, which seats 10,225 fans for basketball and up to 8,500 for concerts, banquets and special events.
These special events have included performances by musical artists such as George Strait, Dolly Parton and Keith Urban. Others have welcomed national leaders such as former First Lady Barbara Bush, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and President Barack Obama.
While the Baylor basketball and volleyball teams are the most frequent occurrences in the Ferrell’s Paul J. Meyer Arena, student athletes from all walks of Baylor sports also find many of their most memorable moments happened in the Ferrell Center.
“One of my favorite memories of the Ferrell is when I had to speak to all of the freshmen before the first game of the season,” said Baylor cornerback and Dallas senior Tyler Stephenson.
Delray Beach, Fla., junior Robbie Korth, a member of the Baylor tennis team, said his first memory of the Ferrell Center was made before he even arrived to campus for his first season.
“The tennis team went on the floor to be honored for the Big 12 win the season before I got there,” he said. “That was my first memory, but definitely won’t be my last.”