AU Awards Contract to Build Arena

AU officials are upbeat that the new arena project was bid well under the budget and construction is scheduled to start soon.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn has awarded the bid to build its on-campus basketball arena and practice complex to Harbert International, a construction company based in Birmingham.

Auburn director or athletics, Jay Jacobs, says that Harbert's base bid was $59.7 million submitted on Tuesday was accepted by the university of Thursday. With the addition of alternates to the base bid, the primary construction cost was bid at $60.4 million, which is more than $9 million under the budgeted total of $69.5 million for the construction costs.

The project, which includes a total of 243,792 square feet, includes an arena that will seat approximately 9,600 fans, an adjoining building with two practice courts, locker rooms, offices for the men's and women's coaching staff, luxury suites for fans, a team store and the Lovelace Museum.

Auburn has budgeted $92.5 million for the project that is expected to break ground this summer. The arena is expected to be ready to use for the 2010-2011 academic year.

The new arena is will be built on what is currently a parking lot located across the street and north of the Student Activities Center parking lot at the intersection of Wire Road and Roosevelt Drive. It is only several hundred yards away from Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, the home of the basketball programs and located adjacent to major new dorm village construction project that has already started.

Auburn men's basketball coach Jeff Lebo has been using the new arena as a recruiting tool. "This is very exciting news to know that we are one big step further along in the process for the new arena," he says. "This is the final hurdle in the start of the construction. The new arena is something that all Auburn people can be proud of. This is going to be a first-class facility and the Auburn Administration has made a huge commitment to the future."

Lebo says the new arena will be a major upgrade over Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, which will likely be demolished after the new arena is built.

"The practice facility will have a weight room, new offices, new locker rooms, a new training room--everything you need to have for a basketball program," Lebo says. "Also, with the proximity of where the university is putting the new student housing, it will be very convenient for our players.

"If guys want to walk out of their dorm room and shoot foul shots at 10 o'clock at night, they will be able to do that," Lebo says. "That is the way it is at a lot of places. In a couple of years we will be able to do that here."

The facility will also be the home arena for the Auburn women's gymnastics team and will be used for graduations, concerts and other special events.

AU women's basketball coach Nell Fortner says, "It is exciting to know that the bid process has been completed and now we can begin to see shovels in the ground," she says. "We are ready and excited to get this arena project moving and are very thankful for the hard work the administration has put forth."

The arena project was designed by 360 Architecture of Kansas City with assistance from Davis Architects of Birmingham. Robins & Morton of Birmingham will serve as construction manager.

"The fans are not going to be very far away from the court and the ceiling is going to be pretty low to keep the noise in," Lebo says. "There is a lot of thought that went into this. These people (360 Architecture) have done a terrific job. They have built arenas in the past. They wanted to get the students close. We think we have done. We have a lot of positive things that I think are going to be exciting for everybody."

The project got started with former AU president Dr. Ed Richardson getting the ball rolling before he retired after making the decision not to spend approximately $25 million to $30 million to renovate Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, which the Tigers have been using since 1969.

"Our fund raising efforts have been outstanding and we are very appreciative of the Board of Trustees and President (Jay) Gogue for their vision and leadership," Jacobs says. "A lot of people have played a key role in this project and it wouldn't be possible without the hard work and dedication of John Mouton, Don Large and the President's office. Jeff Steele, along with the construction management team of Robins & Morton, have been tremendous assets along the way.

"A project like this doesn't come about without a united effort and common goal of countless people," Jacobs adds. "We're going to have the ability to build a first-class facility that will be within budget."

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