Halton Arena bears name of long-time benefactor

The Dale F. Halton Arena opened Dec. 2, 1996, as a state-of-the-art facility intended to showcase sporting events and major functions. It honors a generous University supporter whose name also graces a reading room in Atkins Library and the tennis complex.

Halton is the granddaughter of Henry Barksdale Fowler, the founder of Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Charlotte, which was established in 1905 as the nation’s first Pepsi franchise. At the time, Charlotte had a population of about 15,000.

Following Fowler’s death in 1981, Halton became head of the enterprise and continued her grandfather’s legacy of supporting UNC Charlotte athletics.

Born Barksdale Fowler Dick, Halton eventually would marry and have three children. But as an elementary student, she took dance classes in styles ranging from ballet to modern. She later attended Myers Park High School, where she enjoyed athletics. She played basketball in gym glass, and it has been said she could outrun anyone in her grade. Following graduation, Halton enrolled at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga. After two years of college, she married and returned to Charlotte to run the family business.

After the death of her grandfather, in lieu of flowers, Halton asked friends to donate to a scholarship in his name. Each year, 10 percent of the company’s profits went toward a charitable foundation – UNC Charlotte was one of its top beneficiaries.

As a CEO and philanthropist, Halton was known to offer the opinion that the more money someone had, the more responsibility he or she had to give to others.

In her 20 years as head of Pepsi Bottling Company of Charlotte, Halton supported more than athletics. She was a benefactor of the N.C. Dance Theatre and other causes, and she has an endowed an academic scholarship and backed study abroad programs. She also served on the board of directors for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.

Today, Halton Arena, located inside the James Barnhardt Student Activity Center, continues to be home for the Charlotte 49ers men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball programs. With seating for 9,000, it also hosts commencement ceremonies, live concerts and other campus and community events.

In 2006, a high resolution video screen was added to the score board at the center of the arena. In 2008, LCD floor displays used at the NCAA Final Four Championship were installed for use at University athletic events. The arena was the location for the 2005 Conference USA women’s basketball and the 2007 Atlantic 10 volleyball tournaments and hosted the 2009 Atlantic 10 women’s basketball tournament.

The Dale Halton name also is on a reading room in the J. Murrey Atkins Library. The Halton Reading Room features a permanent exhibit of Pepsi memorabilia that traces the company’s history in Charlotte. The display includes Henry Fowler’s cash book and cane, original 12-ounce Pepsi bottles, ad campaigns and old “Pepsi and Pete” comics.

The Halton-Wagner Tennis Complex, which opened in 2012, is named in honor of Halton and Fred Wagner for the couple’s generous support of the Charlotte 49ers tennis program. The 12,477-square-foot facility includes coaches’ offices, a conference room, a player/team lounge and the men’s and women’s team locker rooms. Located near the intersection of Cameron Boulevard and Craver Road, the complex features 12 courts, stadium seating for 246 and a pair of scoreboards with wireless capabilities.

Atkins Library Special Collections contributed to this article.

Photo inset: Dale Halton (second left) and Fred Wagner (right) at the dedication of the Halton-Wagner Tennis Complex with Judy Rose, director of athletics, and Chancellor Philip L. Dubois.