Ribbon-cuttings are for show, but the ceremony for the University of North Georgia’s 3,600-seat Convocation Center on the Dahlonega campus unveiled a new home for shows.
“The only word that came to my mind instantly was, ‘Wow!’” Gov. Nathan Deal said at the center’s public unveiling on Wednesday, May 23.
Beyond the scope of the arena, which first opened in February for a basketball doubleheader celebrating homecoming on campus, the 103,000-square-foot center is replete with classrooms, luncheon space, an athletic training lab, full sports locker room and departmental faculty offices.
With its location on the southwest side of the Dahlonega campus, school officials said it can serve as host to concerts, conferences, job fairs, sporting events, graduations and other ceremonies.
UNG President Bonita Jacobs said the diversity the center offers in its ability to host everything from trade shows to proms makes the center “the new focal point for UNG and the (North Georgia) region as we work for social, athletic and academic events.”
“Our primary goal is to serve this region,” Jacobs added, with an economic development summit as a major hosting goal in the near future.
State Rep. Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville, said the center is an important milestone for a university that needs state-of-the-art facilities to support growing student enrollment and regional economic development, which includes Gainesville and Hall County.
UNG will enroll about 20,000 students across its five campuses next fall.
Dubnik serves on the House higher education committee, and state funding was crucial to the center’s $40 million development.
“I want to see projects like this that are going to impact the city, county, region and state,” he said.
For Deal, the “wow factor” is eye-catching and reflects UNG’s role as an educational institution and regional partner in building and sustaining local communities.
It’s an impressive accomplishment “from a relatively small university in North Georgia,” Deal said, adding that the new Convocation Center is now established as a “location that sells itself and the region around it.”