Auburn Arena Project Ahead of Schedule

This is the first of two articles and photo galleries on the new Auburn Arena project that will be the home of AU basketball.

Auburn, Ala.--Progress on the new Auburn Arena is moving along at a brisk pace and the $85.5 million facility is not only expected to be ready on time, the construction is ahead of schedule.

That is the word from Randy Byars, who manages the project and other construction projects for the Auburn Athletic Department.

"We are extremely close," Byars says. "The contractor is expected to be substantially complete in April. We will move furniture in starting on May 3rd."

When the project began, the plan was to be able to finish it in July in time for the 2010-2011 academic year that starts in August.

"Be on the lookout for announcement for something coming up that this facility might be available for viewing on A-Day," Byars says.

A-Day, when the football team plays its annual spring game at Jordan-Hare Stadium, is scheduled for Saturday, April 17th at 1 p.m.

The Auburn Arena will be home to the men's and women's basketball teams. The project includes the main arena that will seat approximately 9,600 fans for basketball games and will hold more than 10,000 for graduation ceremonies and concerts.

The facility also will be the new home for the Lovelace Museum and will include a basketball practice facility. In addition to offices, training rooms, locker rooms and a weight room there will be a large lounge for scholarship donors, a dozen luxury suites and a store selling Auburn items.

The facility will also be where the women's gymnastics squad holds home competitions. That team defeated the University of Denver in a dual meet in the last scheduled intercollegiate competition at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum that was held on Friday night.

The men's basketball team played the final game on the home schedule on Wednesday night and defeated Mississippi State. The women's team won the last game on its home scheduled defeating Kentucky on Sunday.

"It is going to be a beautiful arena," Byars says. "The seating is going to be really nice."

Byars notes that there has been debate about where the best seats in the arena will be located. He says some people want to be as close to the arena floor as possible while others prefer a higher vantage point. Others like the view from the upper level, which the project manager says he personally likes.

Another seating option for those who want extra leg room will be available on the main concourse level and the upper level concourse where bars have been built in on all four sides of the arena that offer fans a good view of the action watching from bar stools. In addition to having the bar top to place drinks, food, a game program or whatever, there are also footrests for patrons to use.

"It has been interesting as fans have come through to see their perspectives on the best seats," Byars says. "I used to think the question was, ‘What is the worst seat in the house?' There really is not a bad seat in the house. The seats that are the most far back from the floor are so much closer than at Beard-Eaves."

The entrance for scholarship donors is located on the southeast side of the arena.

On the ground floor of the east side of the arena are dozen suites that users have access to during basketball games and for football weekends, too. On the upper level a balcony is part of the scholarship room area.

The east side ticket windows are shown.

The men's and women's basketball coaching staff offices are on the southeast corner of the arena complex and overlook the practice facility.

The loading dock is located on the south side of the arena.

The arena basketball floor is installed and is being sanded.

The student section concession area is located at the northwest side of the arena at floor level.

The view from the floor level student entrance shows the AU logo in the south side seats.

The main entrance to the arena is on the north side from a plaza that is part of the university's new dorm village.

The interior of the main public entrance is shown. It is located on the north side of the arena.

A view of a portion of the east side main concourse level bar viewing area is shown.

A view of the northeast side of the arena is shown with Jordan-Hare Stadium in the background.

Workers put in tile on the lobby that will be the entrance into the arena for scholarship donors on the southeast side of the complex.

Players and coaches, media and scholarship donors will enter the arena through a lobby on the southeastside side of the facility.

The new arena will be feature handicap seating areas on all levels. Fans who will use the seats will find them in prime areas to watch the action.

(Part two will feature more information on the arena and additional photos.

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