On February 18, 1999, Southern Nazarene University unveiled the finest small college athletic facility in America to a standing room only crowd of 5,000 as SNU hosted cross-town rival Oklahoma City in a double header of men’s and women’s basketball. The crowd was entertained to two Crimson Storm victories and since that inaugural night, the Sawyer Center has become one of the gems of small college athletic facilities in the country.
SNU’s Sawyer Center is named after former men’s basketball player Carl & Marcia Sawyer who generously donated the university’s first million dollar donation to help fund the multi-million dollar facility.The first official event in the Sawyer Center was the annual Excel auction, held on Thursday, February 11th, 1998.
The Sawyer Center seats 5,000 for basketball and is the home for SNU basketball and volleyball. The Sawyer Center also is home to Southern Nazarene University’s graduation ceremonies and host’s local high school sporting events.
The Sawyer Center has become a favorite location of local high school state tournaments and the NBA. Several professional teams have practiced in the Sawyer Center, including The Oklahoma City Thunder, The New Orleans Hornets, The Los Angeles Lakers and The Detroit Pistons with more planned in the future. When the New Orleans Hornets were displaced after Hurricane Katrina, the Sawyer Center became the temporary home of the team from 2005-07.
During The Big Twelve Basketball Tournament, the Sawyer Center is used as a practice gym for incoming teams and Sawyer hosts the annual Home School National Tournament. The Sawyer Center’s conference rooms are used by local businesses for staff meetings and the facility is also utilized for The Oklahoma State High School Tournament, Summer Academic and Sports Camp programs andUniversity Graduation Ceremonies. Select Physical Therapy is housed on the 3rd floor of the complex and has multiple patients entering daily.
In the fall of 2008, the Sawyer Center served as the home of the welcome home ceremonies for 2,600 troops of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT). Families and friends of the soldiers saw their troops for the first time a year in the ceremonies held at Sawyer.
The Sawyer Center is also the home of SNU’s annual SNUPY Awards Show that honors the SNU athletes and coaches in the spring.
For the eleventh year, SNU Campers will go through instruction and competition in Southern Nazarene University’s state-of-the-art Sawyer Center.
Recognized as the finest small college athletic facility in America, the Sawyer Center is a multi-million dollar gymnasium that includes two full-length playing floors, a running track, and top-of-the-line instructional facilities.
In 2005-06, the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets called the Sawyer Center home for two seasons, choosing SNU to host the Hornet’s practices.
SNU is still a host for NBA teams coming in to town to take on the Thunder. This past year, SNU hosted the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Hornets, and Detroit Pistons.
Sawyer Center is located on the corner of NW 39th Expressway and Donald in Bethany.