Two Cents

Tad Smith Coliseum passed its prime in the 1980s. Now, 20-plus years later, she's hanging on by a thread. Time for a wrecking ball.

I have been one of those Ole Miss fans who has bitten my tongue in the past about the condition of Tad Smith Coliseum.

The reason may not be a wise one, but nobody ever accused me of being the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Personally, I felt there were more urgent needs - football stadium additions/renovations, the Indoor Practice Facility, baseball stadium addition, Basketball Practice Facility, to name a few.

Along the way, we've also seen a new track complex, upgrades to women's facilities, a new academic center for student-athletes and several other need areas attacked.

A ball boy helps dry the floor Thursday night. The game was ultimately called due to rain.
Courtesy: Associated Press
In the past 10-15 years, I've been proud of what has taken place in reshaping our sports facilities, especially since absolutely zero had been done the previous 30 years.

Due to all of that, I ignored the obvious blight, the obvious eyesore that Tad Smith has become.

I conceded that building a new coliseum while other major renovations in other sports were taking place was not prudent or realistic.

Meanwhile, Tad Smith - despite various facelifts - was slowly deteriorating bit by bit.

Then a few years ago, it was revealed the University, and not athletics, was responsible for Tad Smith Coliseum.

Robert Khayat was the chancellor and his major concerns - rightfully so - were academic in nature, i.e., student housing, academic centers, law school, etc.

The marvelous job he did in that area gave me another reason to justify putting Tad Smith's replacement on the back burner.

Just recently, we got wind that the university and the athletic department are considering a joint venture, to keep it simple, that would include a new student activities center and coliseum.

Goodness knows the Turner Center has outlived its usefulness as well and is woefully small for our growing student population.

So again the thinking was that some kind of action, even if it was just in the talking stage, was eventually going to take place and that the university and athletic department would work in concert to kill two birds, two dying birds, with one stone.

Patience, I told myself again.

Well, my patience - and I am the only one I can speak for here - has grown thin.

And the need for a new student activities center and coliseum has reached critical mass.

It's past time for Tad Smith Coliseum to go.
Courtesy: Bruce Newman
In this humble, slightly frustrated, opinion, there is no more pressing need on our campus at this time.

I'm sure there are some who will disagree with that, but take a look around.

On this campus, there are only two buildings that, to me, are "embarrassing." Tad Smith Coliseum and the Turner Center.

It's reached the point where they simply do not fit in with the rest of our campus, as pretty as any in the country outside of those two buildings.

While I understand a joint venture such as the one being contemplated is a major undertaking, if it were to take front burner status, it could be done just as the rest of the building/renovations have been done.

I get that the economy is not good. I get that money is tight. I get that there is still some debt to deal with from other university and athletic building projects that have already been completed.

But what I don't get is the lack of a plan, the lack of an attempt, to get going toward a new coliseum from the athletics side and a new student activity center from the university side.

I was not "embarrassed" or terribly upset about the basketball game last night being called off because of the roof leaking.

Mother Nature does her own thing and sometimes man cannot plan for her actions.

But I guess it was the straw that broke my back concerning the need for a new coliseum.

Tad Smith, time to go.

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