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Hello New Benjo

Hello new BenJo

Wofford converts arena to new fitness and recreational center

When the campus community bid farewell to the Benjamin Johnson Arena as the home of Wofford basketball and volleyball in 2017, they also said hello to new possibilities for student recreation and wellness. The renovated Benjamin Johnson Arena student fitness center opened in January.

A 2016 North Carolina State University study shows that for every extra hour that students exercise, their odds of graduating (or returning the following year) increase by 50 percent. Students who exercise more also have higher grade point averages; for each hour of physical activity a week, GPAs increased by .06 on the 4.0 scale.

“Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory and learning,” says Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey, author of “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.” “Every 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.” 

Wofford’s Wellness Center also promotes exercise as a way to combat stress, boost mental health and improve sleep.

“The Benjamin Johnson Arena, which opened in 1981, holds a lot of history for Wofford College, and we’re glad we are able to continue to use the facility as a larger, better fitness center for our stu­dents, faculty and staff,” President Nayef Samhat says. “The addition of the new Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium provides us with this terrific opportunity to give our community a place in the Benjamin Johnson Arena to exercise both their bodies and their minds.” 

Jason Burr ’01, associate vice president of facilities and capital projects, says the lower level of the arena (once basketball and vol­leyball courts and bleachers) houses a new multi-sport playing surface with three courts. A walking track surrounds the perimeter of the courts.

“The locker rooms were renovated with new flooring, fixtures, lighting, countertops, stalls and painting,” Burr says. Existing bleachers, entry alcoves and the gymnasium flooring were demolished to make way for the improvements.

The concourse areas have become the new student fitness center with the installation of a variety of equipment and machines.

“The east concourse — the side nearest the soccer stadium — has weight equipment, including free weights, benches and machines,” Burr says. “The other concourse – nearest the DuPré Hall parking lot – has cardio equipment, including treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical machines.”

The openings to the bleacher areas on both concourses are now closed, and thick, lam­inated glass has been placed atop the walls of the concourses for a more open feel, he adds. The concourses also have open locker storage and new audio-visual equipment. 

The arena, named for Benjamin O. Johnson ’30, a Spartanburg textile executive and Wofford trustee and benefactor, was built as part of the Campus Life Building, designed to serve as the center of athletics, social and cultural activity on campus. No longer an intercollegiate competition venue, BenJo’s focus may have changed, but its purpose remains the same, and Wofford students now have new opportunities for physical, academic and mental well-being as a result. 

Benjo Renovation Fact Sheet

The Benjamin Johnson Arena in the Campus Life Building is undergoing a renovation to convert it into a first-rate facility for campus intramural, fitness and recreational activities.

DEMOLITION INCLUDES

» Removal of existing bleachers

» Removal of entry alcoves

» Removal of existing gymnasium flooring

RENOVATION/INSTALLATION: LOWER LEVEL

Former basketball/volleyball court and bleacher area:

» New multi-sport playing surface

» Three courts for basketball, volleyball, tennis and badminton

» Walking track around perimeter of three courts

Locker rooms:

» Renovated for use by students, faculty and staff

» New flooring, fixtures, lighting, some countertops, stalls and painting

RENOVATION/INSTALLATION: CONCOURSE AND UPPER LEVEL

» Concourses to become new fitness center

» East concourse (soccer stadium side): weight equipment, including free weights, benches and machines

» West concourse (Terrier sculpture/parking lot side): cardio equipment, including treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical machines

» Openings to bleacher areas on both sides to be filled in

» Thick, laminated glass to be placed atop the walls of concourses

» New flooring to be installed on both concourses

» Electrical upgrades to be installed to house new equipment, including audio-visual equipment

» Both concourses to include open locker storage

» Staff office to be added to west concourse, near The Commons entrance

» Student/employee desk to be added to east concourse, near The Commons

A short history of the BenJo

Opened January 22, 1981

Replaced Andrews Field House, where the Terriers played basketball for 50 years.

First Basketball Game: January 22, 1981 - Terriers vs. The Citadel Bulldogs

Namesake: Benjamin O. Johnson, Class of 1930

» Spartanburg textile executive associated with Spartanburg Mills

» Wofford trustee and benefactor

» Champion chess player in his youth; later one of nation’s best-known bridge players

» President of American Contract Bridge League

» Captain of American bridge team in international competition 

Original cost: $4.5 million

 

By Laura Hendrix Corbin