A $20 million gift from the Moody Foundation will help provide an extensive expansion and renovation of Moody Coliseum, a campus and Dallas landmark that is home to SMU Commencement as well as numerous speaking, athletics and community events such as concerts and high school graduations.
“Moody Coliseum has long been a signature space to the University and the city,” says SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “With this generous gift from the Moody Foundation, the coliseum will be ready for the future.”
The project will feature new premium seating, as well as courtside retractable seating designated for students and renovation of the entry lobby and concourses. Technology improvements will include new video boards, scoreboards, sound system, broadcast capabilities and heating and cooling systems. In addition, office suites, restrooms and locker rooms will be upgraded.
Additional donors will be sought for the $40 million project. Project planning and design will begin immediately. The construction start date has not yet been determined.
William L. Moody Jr. and his wife, Libbie Rice Shearn Moody, established the Moody Foundation in 1942 to benefit present and future Texans. During the 1960s, the Foundation awarded grants throughout the state, often focusing on capital projects for private colleges and universities as well as support for children’s health projects, libraries and historic preservation.
The Foundation, now led by the Moodys’ descendants, currently emphasizes ongoing Foundation-initiated projects such as Moody Gardens, the Transitional Learning Center for traumatic brain injury and the Moody Scholars Program, in addition to a wide array of social services and educational projects. SMU and the Moody Foundation have enjoyed a long partnership, including the Foundation’s support of facility improvements to Fondren Science Building and Moody Coliseum.
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. 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 NCAA postseason competition. 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 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 Ford, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. Poet T.S. Eliot also spoke to audiences there. Other events such as installation of United Methodist Church bishops and Highland Park United Methodist Church Easter services have taken place at Moody.
Moody Coliseum also has been the venue for bands such as the Rolling Stones, Three Dog Night, the 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 fundraising dance marathons also have taken place at Moody Coliseum.
The Moody Foundation gift counts toward SMU’s Second Century Campaign. Launched in 2008 with a goal of $750 million, gifts to date now have reached more than $500 million. The Second Century Campaign seeks support for the University’s key priorities of student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.