"Huge" Arena Project Wins Approval

Auburn men's basketball coach Jeff Lebo discusses the new arena project.

Auburn, Ala.--On Thursday an Auburn University board of trustees committee approved a design for a new on-campus basketball arena that is expected to cost more than $90 million and seat approximately 9,600 people with the potential for that figure to be higher including viewing areas for a scholarship meeting room.

Final approval by the full board on Friday is considered a formality. The facility will be built very close to Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. From the front entrance of the coliseum, the new building will be a short walk across the street to the parking lot and will be a left turn (to the west) several hundred yards away.

"It will just be a dream come true for me as the head basketball coach," Jeff Lebo tells Inside the Auburn Tigers when asked what his feelings are about the new arena. "It makes a tremendous statement about the importance of basketball at Auburn when you are going to build close to a $100 million arena.

"It is not only great for our players and our staff, it is going to be great for our students, our season ticket holders and our other fans," the coach adds. "Everybody is going to walk into this arena and have a lot of pride about the facility. It is going to be a huge, huge, gigantic step. I am like a kid in a candy story."

The east view of the arena project is shown.

In addition to the new arena, the project will include a practice facility that will have two courts, locker rooms, offices, weight training facilities and a training room.

"It is big for our kids to have a legitimate place to practice," says Lebo, whose team has to work out at the tiny "Hot Box" auxiliary gym when the coliseum is being used for another function.

A view of the north side of the arena is shown.

"It is going to be big to allow the men's and women's teams to practice simultaneously," he says. "It will help us with our class scheduling and there is a big convenience of being able to practice at the same time (men's and women's teams). Having a facility that is a practice facility, not a gym, again makes a statement that basketball is important here at Auburn.

"We think it will be a state of the art facility," Lebo says of the arena. "It is not just something our players and coaches will be happy with, it is something that we want our students who come to the games, our fans and our scholarship donors to all feel comfortable with. From a basketball standpoint, we think we have everything in it we need. Nell (women's head coach Nell Fortner) and I have had input into what we think is important. You are excited once you see some things on paper, but once you start to see it materialize it will be a lot of fun."

A view of the interior of the arena is shown.

Lebo says he expects his Tigers to play three more seasons in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, the multi-purpose facility built in the 1960s that is the home to the AU men's women's basketball teams.

"We are going to have to wait several years to go get the new arena and the process has been long and hard," Lebo points out. "There have been ups and downs. In the end, we are real excited about where it has ended."

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