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VOL. 124 | NO. 81 | Monday, April 27, 2009

Permit Filed for U of M’s ‘Penny’ Hall of Fame

By Eric Smith

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CELEBRATING GREATNESS: A 19,000-square-foot extension of the Athletic Office Building at the University of Memphis campus will be anchored by the Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway Hall of Fame. Construction is expected to begin soon on the $3 million project thanks primarily to a $1 million donation Hardaway made to the university last year. -- RENDERING COURTESY OF Evans Taylor Foster Childress Architects

Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was an electrifying, playmaking guard for the University of Memphis in the early 1990s. In his two seasons at the school, he became a fan favorite and one of the best players to ever don a Tiger basketball uniform.

But his impact on the university’s sports program reached new heights last summer when he donated $1 million to the athletic department to build a sports hall of fame on campus. To date, it’s the largest single donation by a former U of M student-athlete.

The development of that facility passed an important milestone last week when the University of Memphis Foundation filed a $2.9 million permit application with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to build the two-story, 19,000-square-foot addition to the Athletic Office Building.

Anchored by the Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway Hall of Fame, the new building will sit on the south side of the main campus, joining the existing athletic building. It will house the U of M’s athletic Hall of Fame plus an assembly room, a theater, Tiger Scholarship Fund board room, a ticket office suite and other offices.

“A little under nine months ago, one of our most distinguished alums and certainly one of our best basketball players, Mr. Penny Hardaway, became our 34th Ambassador (a donor whose gifts exceed $500,000 over four years), which is unbelievable and we appreciate it,” said U of M athletic director R.C. Johnson. “At that same time, we unveiled our Hall of Fame addition to our athletic office building, which is going to be named in Penny’s honor due to his generous donation.”

Reliving moments

TIMELINE APPROACHING: Construction of the 19,000-square-foot extension to the Athletic Office Building at the University of Memphis campus should begin within the next 30 days and last a year. Once completed, it will house the Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway Hall of Fame plus office and meeting space for athletic department personnel. -- RENDERING COURTESY OF EVANS TAYLOR FOSTER CHILDRESS ARCHITECTS

The formal address of the building will be 570 Normal St., the same address as the Athletic Office Building, which sits on the south side of Southern Avenue as well as the railroad tracks that bisect the campus.

Construction is slated to begin within the next 30 days and should take about a year, said Cameron Taylor, principal at the project’s general contractor, Patton & Taylor Enterprises LLC.

“It’s a needed expansion that’s further evidence of the continued growth and importance of the university athletic program, particularly the basketball program,” Taylor said. “It’s a neat building.”

Evans Taylor Foster Childress Architects is architect for the expansion. Though the building won’t achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, Taylor said it will have green qualities such as a state-of-the-art, efficient HVAC system that will help lower operating costs.

Johnson said the new facility “will be a great place for Tiger fans to come, see and remember the great moments in Memphis athletics history as well as the outstanding student-athletes that suited up for the blue and gray.”

Hardaway, who grew up in North Memphis and graduated from Treadwell High School before moving on to college, NBA and Olympic hoops stardom, was grateful to donate this money to the school that helped launch his professional career.

“I kept my dreams high and my goals high and I accomplished a lot of things that a lot people didn’t think that I was going to be able to accomplish,” Hardaway said last year at the press conference to announce his gift. “So I’m so thankful for that and to be able to give back to the school and to the program is something that I’m so glad that I’m able to do.”

Steady growth

This isn’t the only sports development at the university, which is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar capital campaign. In December, the U of M filed a $2.7 million building permit to renovate its baseball stadium at the Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex on the school’s Park Avenue Campus, at the southeast corner of Getwell Road and Park Avenue.

Formerly called Nat Buring Stadium, the overhauled facility will be named after FedEx, which donated $3 million for improvements and additions to the 37-year-old baseball complex. A formal name hasn’t yet been chosen.

Construction began earlier this year and should be completed by fall, a little bit ahead of schedule, said U of M associate athletic director for development Bill Lansden. Evans Taylor Foster Childress is also architect for this project, and Flintco is the contractor.

The renovation calls for “a new dressing facility, dugouts, grandstands, concession areas, press box and private suites,” according to a university press release. “The dressing facility will include locker rooms for both Tiger coaches and players, office and meeting space, indoor pitching and batting cages, as well as a direct entrance into the Tiger dugout and field at game time.”

The baseball team is playing this season’s home games at three local parks – Millington’s USA Stadium, AutoZone Park and Gagliano Stadium – while the ballpark is being renovated.

Additionally, a golf complex is being built, a new softball stadium opened at the Murphy Athletic Complex in 2007 and fundraising efforts are under way to construct a new weight room for the football team.

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