SMU’s renovated Moody Coliseum and the Miller Event Center addition will open for Commencement on December 21. The 57-year-old landmark is home to SMU Commencement as well as numerous athletics, speaking and community events.

A $20 million gift from the Moody Foundation in 2011 provided the impetus for the extensive expansion and renovation. SMU and the Moody Foundation have enjoyed a long partnership, including the foundation’s support of improvements to Fondren Science Building and Moody Coliseum.

Alumnus and trustee David Miller ’72, ’73 and his wife, Carolyn, also committed $10 million toward the renovation project in 2011. The Miller Center, an addition on the north side of Moody Coliseum named in their honor, includes the Miller Champions Club – a 5,000-square-foot furnished entertainment area on the concourse level – and 12 suites with courtside views, along with other resources to support student athletes and coaches.

“The renovation of Moody Coliseum enhances a valuable resource that serves as a gathering place convenient to the entire region,” says President R. Gerald Turner. “Programs ranging from academic ceremonies to George W. Bush Presidential Center offerings to athletic events will attract tens of thousands to SMU.”

Through the leadership of the Moody Foundation and the Millers, and the generous support of other donors, the renovation features widening of the entry lobby and concourses, event space, party suites, premium and loge seating, and courtside retractable seating designated for students. Technology improvements include new video boards, scoreboards, sound system, broadcast capabilities and heating and cooling systems. In addition, new conference rooms and coaches’ offices were created, and locker rooms and restrooms were upgraded.

Known as SMU Coliseum when it opened in 1956, the building was renamed Moody Coliseum in 1965 in recognition of a $1 million gift from the Moody Foundation.

Moody Coliseum long has been the site of special events, including heart-stopping basketball moments. In its inaugural year, fans packed the 9,000-seat coliseum to cheer the Mustang men’s basketball team to the Southwest Conference Championship and the NCAA semifinals. Women’s basketball came to Moody Coliseum in 1976 and women’s volleyball began there in 1996. Legend has it that “Moody Magic” contributes to consistent wins at home for Mustang teams.

Each May and December the coliseum is transformed to host SMU Commencement as well as graduation ceremonies for thousands of area high school students. Four U.S. presidents have spoken at Moody Coliseum, including Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. Poet T.S. Eliot also spoke to audiences there.

Moody Coliseum also has been the venue for bands such as the Rolling Stones, Three Dog Night, Grateful Dead, Queen, U2 and Pearl Jam. Dallas’ first professional basketball team, the Chaparrals, competed at Moody along with professional tennis players at the Virginia Slims and WCT professional tennis tournaments. Cheerleading, basketball and volleyball camps, Boy Scout conferences and dance marathons also have taken place at Moody.

The first athletic event will be an American Athletic Conference double-header men’s and women’s basketball games January 4, with the men playing University of Connecticut and the women playing South Florida.