New AU basketball home gets OK
AUBURN (AP) — Auburn trustees unanimously approved construction of a $92.5 million basketball arena Friday, the state's largest one-time expenditure for an athletic building.
The new complex will have 9,600 seats, two practice courts, a weight room, premium and courtside seating and 12 suites with outdoor areas that will also open on football Saturdays. The university will accept construction bids next spring, and the arena is expected to be ready for the 2010-11 season.
An artist's rendition was unveiled Thursday, when the board's Property and Facilities Committee OK'd it.
Men's coach Jeff Lebo called the arena "a gigantic step for Auburn basketball."
"This is a monumental day for Auburn University, the Auburn athletics department and the future of Auburn men's and women's basketball," athletic director Jay Jacobs said. "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."
The arena will be built across the street from 40-year-old Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum and separated from Jordan-Hare Stadium by a parking lot.
Former Auburn and NBA star Charles Barkley's response to the news: "It's about time. Basketball's been a stepchild there for so long," he told The Birmingham News.
The arena is designed to be more intimate than Beard-Eaves, with seating closer to the court. Design officials compared it to Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The university will fund about 65 percent of the cost through bonds and wants to raise the rest in donations. No money will come from Auburn's general fund.
"That's very different than most universities, no matter what they may say," said Bobby Lowder, chairman of the trustees' finance committee.
"I feel confident we'll have the money to do this. We've been working on this a long time, and I feel confident we'll have the funds in hand."
John Mouton, who oversees Auburn's campus building projects, said Beard-Eaves would probably be torn down in about five years.
Board members also indicated they were willing to sell naming rights for the arena to a corporation.
360 Architecture of Kansas City, Mo., has been working with Davis Architects of Birmingham on the design of the arena. Robins & Morton of Birmingham will serve as construction manager of the 243,792-square-foot facility.
"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," Auburn President Ed Richardson said.
The new arena will feature chair back seats along with bleacher seating for students.
The scoreboard will feature a high-definition video board.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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