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Bill George Arena
Named in honor of the late Dr. E. William "Bill" George, a long-tenured vice president of John Brown Schools and interim university president in 1994, the $9.5 million Bill George Arena opened its doors just in time for the 2010-11 academic year and is widely considered the region's premier NAIA indoor athletics facility.
Dr. George, after decades of service to the university in various capacities, received a citation from the Arkansas House of Representatives and the Distinguished Achiever Award from JBU in recognition of his outstanding performance while serving as interim president of the university in 1994. George was elected a university trustee in 1954 and continued to serve in that capacity until his death in 2008.
Constructed by Nabholz Construction Services and designed by Crafton Tull Sparks and Associates, the 38,000 square-foot arena serves as the home of the Golden Eagle volleyball and basketball programs, continuing the intimate viewing experience set by the venerable Murray Sells Gymnasium for decades prior.
Bill George Arena features a seating capacity of 1,800 that surrounds a Connor® Sports' fixed resilient Focus™ maple court, named after the legendary men's basketball coach, John Sheehy. Sheehy began his career at the helm of the Golden Eagles in 1989-90 and was named Sooner Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2005-06. After serving for 18 seasons and posting a 313-220 (.587) record, Sheehy retired after the 2006-07 season and the Missouri native was promptly inducted into the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.
During his tenure, Sheehy led the Golden Eagles to an NCCAA National Championship in 1991, 14 years before guiding the program to the university's sole NAIA National Championship as JBU captured the 2005 NAIA Division I crown in Kansas City, Mo.
Bill George Arena is equipped with six liquid crystal display televisions throughout the arena in addition to two high-definition projectors that hang on the west wall for in-arena viewing. An integrated closed circuit system allows fans to stay connected to the action while visiting the concession area or JBU team store, both located in the Soderquist Family Lobby. Also in the Soderquist Family Lobby, the John Brown University Wall of Fame resides, established in 1984 to commemorate each first, second or third-team NAIA All-American in Golden Eagle history.
Behind the west wall lies three state-of-the art locker rooms for the volleyball and basketball teams while a coaching office suite is featured adjacent to the lobby. High above the Pat and Willard Walker Seating Section sits the Mary K. Chapman Hospitality Suite, which houses the John Brown University Hall of Fame.
Bill George Arena has already seen postseason action as the Golden Eagles were awarded the bid to host the 2011-12 Sooner Athletic Conference tournament. Over the five short seasons the arena has been in use, JBU athletic teams have combined for a 186-76 (.709) overall record, making "The George" a difficult place for opponents to compete.
When not in use for basketball games or volleyball matches, Bill George Arena has presented numerous events to benefit the Northwest Arkansas community, including concerts featuring artists such as TobyMac, Switchfoot and Phillips, Craig & Dean while hosting renowned speakers Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes.