Ole Miss receives approval to build new arena

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Updated: 10/17/2013 11:06 pm
OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA) — Tad Smith Coliseum has been hosting basketball games since the late 1960s.

But soon, it'll be replaced by a $75 million arena approved Thursday by the state College Board.

Also approved was a $15 million parking garage that will go up next to to the arena and to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

"It's not only a need for athletics, it's a need for campus," said Keith Carter, executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. "We're going to be able to obviously satisfy some parking issues that we have and also be able to do a food court that will service students on a Monday through Friday basis."

Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork says funding is being covered through the Forward Together Capital Campaign, which to date has raised 98 million dollars with the goal being $150 million.

"Having facilities that are welcoming to everybody — student athletes, fans, everybody on campus — but also showing a commitment that we're willing to be the best," said Bjork.

University officials attribute the national economy showing signs of stabilizing as to why they are seeing more people contribute and as to why they are seeing larger amounts of money being donated to this ongoing campaign.

"The more people you ask, the more will give," added Bjork. "So we tried to do a little bit of balancing between the economy improving but also being a little more aggressive in targeting philanthropic gifts."

More work to be included at a later time is an expansion to the football stadium.

"We're hopefully adding some new premium areas, such as suites and club areas, and really building that front door to Ole Miss athletics on the north end of the football stadium," added Carter.

Bjork says the goal of reaching $150 million in fundraising can be accomplished within three-to-five years.

Bids on the new parking garage are expected to go out in a few weeks with the hope of having that project completed before next football season.

As for the arena, the bids will go out in a few months with plans to have that open by January 2015.
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