AUBURN*The Auburn University Board of Trustees approved the building of a new $92.5 million basketball arena and practice facility Friday. Groundbreaking for the new arena occur in the summer of 2008 with the facility opening prior to the 2010-11 season.
The arena, with an approximately capacity of 9,600, will include over 29,000 square feet of student-athlete space, a two-court practice facility, coaches offices, the Auburn University Athletic Ticket Office, an AU Team Store, the relocated Lovelace Museum, two food courts along with many other amenities.
"This is a monumental day for Auburn University, the Auburn Athletics Department and the future of Auburn men*s and women's basketball," said Athletics Director Jay Jacobs. "Construction of a new arena will help our basketball programs compete for championships, give our fans and students a venue that they can enjoy, and provide a facility in which Auburn University can take great pride.
"A new arena is not only an investment in the future of our basketball programs, but it is an investment in the future of Auburn University and the community. It will provide a much-improved venue and will attract other events the student body can enjoy in the years ahead."
360 Architecture of Kansas City, Mo., has been working with Davis Architects of Birmingham on the design of the arena. The firm of Robins & Morton of Birmingham, Ala., will serve as construction manager. The 243,792 square foot facility will be built on campus north and west of the existing Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum on Roosevelt Drive, across the street from the Student Activities Center parking lot.
"The new arena is part of an aggressive campus-wide effort to ensure that Auburn has state-of-the-art classrooms, research facilities, labs, residence halls and athletic facilities," said Auburn University President Ed Richardson.
"Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum has served the Auburn Family well for many years, but the new, modern facility will support the standard of excellence that Jay Jacobs, his staff and Auburn coaches have set for our athletic department."
The new arena will feature chair back seats along with bleacher seating for students. The building also will provide improved facilities for the student-athletes, including men's and women's locker room suites with sports medicine facilities, lounges and team meeting rooms. Along with a strength and conditioning center, a two-court practice facility will enable the men's and women's teams to practice simultaneously and while the arena is in use for other purposes.
"This is a gigantic step for Auburn Basketball," said men's head coach Jeff Lebo. "A new arena shows a tremendous commitment to the future of basketball at Auburn. Our program has made steady improvement, and this new arena will send a positive statement.
"This is very exciting for our players and staff, but also for our students, season ticket holders and all fans that support Auburn Basketball."
The arena will have 12 luxury suites on the arena level that will not only open inside the facility, but will also open on the outside of the arena for multiple entertaining opportunities throughout the year. Loge Box seating will also be available as well as on-site food preparation.
"This arena is very important to not only men's and women's basketball, but to Auburn University," said women's head coach Nell Fortner. "It demonstrates Auburn's continued commitment to basketball and puts Auburn at the forefront of athletics, not only in the Southeastern Conference, but nationally as well.
"This will be a beautiful arena that will help Auburn in many ways, including recruiting, the welfare of the student-athletes and the ability to draw people from the community to the facility for reasons beyond basketball."
The seating configuration will offer better sight lines and will move fans closer to the court. The furthest seat will be just 43 feet in elevation from courtside, compared to 60 feet in elevation at Beard-Eaves, with two-thirds of the seats in the new facility being less than 27 feet in elevation from courtside.
"In keeping with the culture and character of Auburn University, it is important to emphasize quality and excellence," said former Auburn 1963 All-SEC guard John Blackwell, who is the Board of Trustees Chair of the Property and Facilities Committee. "The new arena will be another example of that.
"Auburn and the design team worked hard to create an outstanding basketball arena which will be one of the finest in the country," Blackwell said. "I would like to play in the arena when it is finished."
The scoreboard will feature a high-definition video board with full message/information center technology. For the student fan amenities, there will be a private entrance, a private courtside commons and food court and court-side seating that permits standing with unobstructed views.
The new facility will also serve as more than a sports complex. With over 12,000 square feet of banquet/entertainment space, its design affords ready adaptation into a site for concerts and other cultural events, convocations and other community gatherings. On-campus student housing is being constructed adjacent to the new arena creating a unique "student village" experience.