Abe Lemons Arena | Inside the Freede Center
Abe Lemons Arena provides the home court to Oklahoma City University’s basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams.
The arena is named for legendary basketball coach Abe Lemons, who won 599 games in 35 years as a head coach from 1955-90. Lemons is the school’s all-time leader in basketball coaching wins with 427 and also coached at Texas and Texas-Pan American. Lemons, known for his wit, was credited by USA Today with the coaching quote of the century: “Doctors bury their mistakes, mine are still on scholarship.”
The arena seats 3,360 for basketball and can be expanded to more than 4,000 seats for graduation ceremonies and other activities. Approximately 250,000 visitors attend events at the arena each year.
The facility, completed in 2000, has been host to world-renowned figures such as author Kurt Vonnegutt and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Top tennis players Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati squared off in the 2001 IGA Superthrift Tennis Classic final. The facility recently hosted speaking engagements featuring Colin Powell and Chris Harrison, host of the TV show “The Bachelor” and an OCU alum. OCU has also hosted the NAIA Wrestling Championships, NAIA Cheerleading and Pom/dance Championship Invitational, STUNT Championships, Women’s College Wrestling National Championships, USA Junior National Wrestling Duals, USA Wrestling University Nationals, Mid-America Youth girls basketball national tournament and the Sooner Athletic Conference basketball and volleyball tournaments at the arena. Abe Lemons Arena will host the 2015 SAC men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
Abe Lemons Arena is located inside the $10 million Freede Wellness and Activities Center. The building boasts of multiple basketball and volleyball courts, athletic training facility, locker rooms, an indoor jogging track and lounge. The locker rooms have recently undergone renovations. It is a multipurpose facility accomodating recreation, intramurals, performances and conferences as well as intercollegiate competition. The building is named for the late Dr. Henry J. Freede, an Oklahoma City orthopedic surgeon and sports enthusiast.
Also inside the Freede Center is the Leichter Reunion Room, the Naifeh Reception Center and the Jim Wade Athletic Office Suites.
The building opened with a ceremony attended by Hall of Fame baseball catcher Johnny Bench, Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Johnny Unitas and broadcaster Curt Gowdy in January 2000.