AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn women’s basketball coach Nell Fortner didn’t know what else to say, so she let out a solid "War Eagle."
Count Fortner and men’s coach Jeff Lebo, as well as Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs, among the happiest people in the room once the property and facilities committee of the Auburn Board of Trustees unanimously approved a plan for a new $92.5 million basketball arena.
Although mostly a formality now, the plan must still be approved today by the entire board.
"It’s a great day for Auburn basketball," Fortner said. "The arena is gorgeous and something that not only Auburn basketball can be proud of, but the entire Auburn family. It was really interesting being a part of the process and very exciting."
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The trio spoke to the committee on Thursday morning, andwhile facilities director John Mouton showed artists’ renderings of the new arena, designed by ThreeSixty Architecture out of Kansas City, Mo. Board member Jimmy Rane had already hinted publicly that he thought the plan for the project would easily pass.
"The process has been a lot of fun," Jacobs said. "To be a part of a vision such as this and now you have the opportunity to impact countless lives is fun."
The committee approved a budget of $92.5 million for the project, which makes it, by far, the biggest undertaking by the athletic department. The athletics department will borrow $60-65 million and then raise another $30-35 million in donations.
Part of that money could come from an increase in student activities fees from last year which is expected to generate about $3 million per year. Also, Auburn will look into the possibility of selling naming rights. Jacobs anticipates no problems in raising the needed money.
"By the responses today, it’s clear the people are excited about the future and vision of Auburn athletics," Jacobs said. "They’re excited we’re making a concrete commitment to the basketball program."
Intimate may well become the buzzword for the new arena, which is expected to open for the 2010-11 season. There will be a dedicated student entrance and three-fourths of the lower seating will be for students.
There will be an offset which will allow alumni to see the action even if the students remain standing during the game.
"The roof is low and the top seat is as close as the inner concourse seats on the current facility," Jacobs said.
The arena, which will have around 9,600 seats, will be built across the street from Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum where a smaller parking lot exists. It will include practice facilities, as well as locker rooms, weight room and offices. There will be 12 suites which will open to the parking lot facing Jordan-Hare Stadium and could be used during football season.
Mouton informed the board it would take almost as much money to fully renovate the Coliseum, which was another option Auburn researched. That facility was built in 1969 and is among the oldest in the Southeastern Conference.
The next eight to 12 months will be spent preparing construction documents, then Jacobs said he anticipated opening the project for bids in early 2008. Once the bid is awarded, it will be a two-year project which should conclude in August 2010.
The football team will play a home-and home series with Atlantic Coast Conference team Clemson in 2010 and 2011, Jacobs announced.
Clemson will come to Jordan-Hare Stadium for a Sept. 18, 2010 game, with Auburn returning the trip on Sept. 17, 2011.
"We’re very pleased about adding Clemson to our schedule in 2010 and 2011," Jacobs said in a release. "This is a continuation of our commitment to schedule quality non-conference opponents."
Auburn last played Clemson in the 1998 Peach Bowl, a 21-17 Auburn win. The teams haven’t played a regular-season game since 1971, also an Auburn win. Auburn is 32-11-2 all-time against Clemson.
Slater adds coach
Auburn baseball coach Tom Slater added Bill Mosiello to the Tiger staff on Thursday.
Mosiello is regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in the country and spent the last year at Southern California as a hitting coach.
"He’s a great baseball man with a lot of experience in both the SEC and professional baseball," Slater said in a release. "I have known Bill for a long time, and we are lucky to have an individual as good as him join our program."
Mosiello spent four years in the New York Yankees organization, including two years as the manager for the Charleston RiverDogs of the South Atlantic League.