Arena Project Gets Boost From Fee Increase

A report on Auburn's proposed new basketball arena is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn University board of trustees approved a 4.1 percent hike in tuition and fees on Friday.

A portion of the fee hike will go to the athletic department, which could use the funds to help finance a new on-campus arena for the men's and women's basketball teams.

Beginning with the 2006-2007 academic year in August, the athletic department will receive $96 each semester per student, up from the current amount of $18 per semester. That should generate approximately an extra $1.8 million per year, bringing the total amount of revenue for the athletic fee to around $3 million annually.

Athletic Director Jay Jacobs says that he has been charged by interim president Dr. Ed Richardson with coming up with a plan and the cost for building a new on-campus arena. Jacobs says he hopes that Coach Jeff Lebo's and Coach Nell Fortner's teams will have a new arena to play in as soon as possible, but says it is too early to discuss details on the arena project.

Richardson told Inside the Auburn Tigers a decision on whether or not to go ahead with the arena is not expected to be made until some time during the 2006-2007 academic year. The interim president notes that more study needs to be done on the cost, funding, design and location of a new arena as well as what to do with Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum if a new arena is built.

The coliseum, home of the basketball Tigers since January 1970, is also the headquarters for physical education and a variety of athletic department coaches and officials. In addition, the coliseum is used for hundreds of activities each year such as summer camps, concerts and lectures.

Auburn officials are currently working to raise private funds to help pay for part of the arena, which will likely cost in the $60 million to $80 million range if Auburn decided to build an arena of approximately 8,500 seats with luxury suites and a practice facility included. Richardson says that he believes that $10 million in private funds have already been identified.

Richardson says after looking at the option of spending a large amount of money to renovate Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, the best course of action is to build a new arena. "There is not much we can do with that facility so we are going to try to find a way to do it," Richardson says of the new arena project. "If we decide to build a new facility, we are two or three years away (from the completion date) in the best of circumstances."

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