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A broad-based committee was formed in the spring of 1994 to determine what type of indoor athletic facility would meet the needs of the university and region. The committee recommended a facility that would support the university's teaching and research, support the university's intellectual, cultural and personal growth of students through curricular and extracurricular activities, and support cultural, educational, recreational and other programs of public service to the local and regional community. An economic impact study completed in August 1994 indicated that the center's construction could generate $5 million in revenue for Watauga County Businesses. In 1995, Rep. George M. Holmes gained support for a plan to fund over a two-year period the remaining convocation center costs. The Legislature adopted a funding package allocating $20.6 million in 1995 and an additional $5 million 1997. Combined with a $600,000 reimbursement from the N.C. Department of Transportation for right-of-way grading and reserves held by the university, the project was completely funded. An engineering study completed in 1995 by Ogden Environmental and Engineering Services reported that the convocation center site, located on portions of the former baseball field near Rivers Street and U.S. 321, would have minimal impact on the town's floodway. A flood mitigation project was developed that opened Boone Creek, created a park near the campus entrance that also serves as a rainwater catch basin, realigned Rivers Street and improved rainwater drainage through a series of box culverts near the new site. By November 1996, architectural drawings were finalized and in October 1997 bids were awarded for the center's construction. Ground breaking for the new facility was held in December 1997. Construction began in January 1998. The first event held at the venue was a men's basketball game between the ASU Mountaineers and the UNC-Chapel Hill Tarheels on November 17, 2000.