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Breaking ground

After months of planning, Troy University is finally ready to move forward with the construction of a new Trojan Arena.

The official groundbreaking ceremony for the arena was held Wednesday, and all involved were on hand to express their excitement for the project going forward.

“This is a great day to be a Trojan,” said Dr. Doug Hawkins, president pro-tem of the Troy University Board of Trustees. “ It’s been a long time coming, and it’s something we really need.”

While most of the attention on the project has been centered on the positive effects it will have on Troy University’s basketball program, the new Trojan Arena will be much more than just a basketball facility.

Rather than serving as just a basketball arena, the arena will be the University’s convocation center, providing multi-purpose space for large meetings, commencements, concerts and special events.

“I don’t believe this arena is just for basketball because it goes so far beyond that,” said Troy men’s basketball head coach Don Maestri. “It isn’t just for you and me because it’s for 50 years plus. We won’t even be here when people are walking in and talking about this facility.”

The new facility, expected to be completed in the fall of 2011, will seat 5,200 people for basketball, an increase from the 4,000-seat capacity at Trojan Arena.

Capacity for the new facility can be expanded to 5,600 for other events that would enable the use of the floor area for seating, namely graduation ceremonies.

“It’s sad to me that there are grandparents and friends who can’t get into Trojan Arena for convocation,” Hawkins said. “With this new facility, that will be a thing of the past.”

Senior Vice Chancellor for Finance and Business Affairs and chair of the New Trojan Arena Design Committee Jim Bookout also agreed the arena should provide much-needed relief to often over-packed graduation ceremonies.

“While it will certainly serve our student-athletes, it will also serve our students as an entertainment facility and it will serve the people who have sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, or friends they want to come see graduate,” Bookout said.

The arena will also contain a media workroom and multi-purpose space for interviews and entertainment, a triple-height rotunda at the main public entrance, food court-style dining and a new VIP parking lot at the north end of the building that will double as premium tailgating areas for football gamedays.

The estimated construction cost of the arena is $31 million. Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., said the importance of the arena could not be understated.

“I truly believe this is one of the most important additions any of us will see during our many years as Trojans,” Hawkins said.

“I think the future is bright and this facility helps to place us on the threshold of greatness that this university deserves.”

While the benefits for the university are obvious, the facility should also benefit the City of Troy by enabling the city to attract events to the new arena.

“The city of Troy is very proud of our relationship with Troy University and we pledge our continued support as this project moves forward to becoming a reality,” said Troy mayor Jimmy Lunsford.