News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Panel likely to suggest new coliseum for Auburn

AUBURN (AP) — The fate of Auburn's proposed new basketball arena might be a slam dunk when it goes before the university's board of trustees.

The property and facilities committee is expected Thursday to recommend building the $90-plus million arena across Roosevelt Drive from the James Martin Aquatic Center in time for the 2010-11 season.

The arena proposal will go before the full board Friday, where it's also expected to be approved.

"It's going to make a statement about the importance of basketball at Auburn," coach Jeff Lebo said. "It's exciting for our coaches, for our fans, for our future players, for everybody. I'm like a little kid. It's like Christmas, but it's three years away."

The Tigers' Beard-Eaves Coliseum was built in 1969 as an all-purpose facility.

The plan calls for a basketball-only arena, including practice facilities, offices, dressing rooms, luxury suites and seats close to the floor.

Athletic director Jay Jacobs said the tentative plan is for 9,600 seats, some 900 fewer than Beard-Eaves.

It would be the SEC's second-smallest arena, ahead of Mississippi's Tad Smith Coliseum, which seats 8,700. For Jacobs, that's a plus.

"It's going to be a real tight, intimate, basketball-only facility first," Jacobs said. "Anything that can be done after that is a bonus. But we're not going to give up on our No. 1 goal, which is a great basketball facility."

Beard-Eaves, which also holds offices and classrooms, will remain standing, at least for now.

Trustee Jimmy Rane said the project is overdue and was being discussed when he joined the board in 2000. He said he has little doubt it will be approved this week.

"It's time to do something. In the seven years I've been on the board, costs have gone through the roof. In just four years, steel has gone up 176 percent," Rane said.

"Either we are going to do it now, or we're never going to do it. Auburn people I talk to want this to happen. They want to take the next step in our basketball program. To do that, we have to have a better facility."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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