By Chris Dell ’11
When it was built 56 years ago, SMU Coliseum, renamed Moody Coliseum in 1965, may have been the brightest gem on the Dallas sports landscape.
In the past half-century, the historic arena, home to the men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball teams at SMU, has hosted collegiate hoops stars, tennis legends, American presidents, NBA MVPs and music icons. However, Moody Coliseum has passed its prime.
Now, as the Mustangs prepare to enter a new era of athletics with their admission to the Big East Conference July 1, 2013, SMU is putting one of Dallas’ original treasures back in the game with a $40 million renovation.
“Moody Coliseum has seen so much history at SMU, but it needs to be modernized,” says Tim Leonard, SMU senior associate athletics director for development and interim director of athletics.
In April 2011, SMU announced a $20 million gift from the Moody Foundation and a $10 million gift from former men’s basketball player David Miller ’72, ’73 and his wife, Carolyn, to spearhead the renovation, which essentially will gut the arena and give it a floor-to-ceiling makeover.
Changes include the addition of premium seating, as well as courtside retractable seating designated for students, and widening the entry lobby and concourses. Technology improvements will include new video boards, scoreboards, sound system, broadcast capabilities and heating and cooling systems. Renovations also will bring the facility up to code with handicap accessibility and restroom availability, add concessions, remodel locker rooms, and extend the north side of the building to include luxury suites, a club lounge and coaches’ offices.
Because the changes will reduce the seating capacity from 9,000 to 7,500, the arena will be an even more intimate setting, Leonard says.
“The renovations will give our programs an immediate and long-lasting boost and will dramatically improve the quality of experience fans will enjoy at Moody Coliseum events,” adds Leonard. “These changes will help make our legendary facility a state-of-the-art venue and help our teams meet the top-25 standard we have set for each of them.”
Miller says one of the results he expects is a top-quality atmosphere for home athletic events. Miller, who was a three-year starter and letterman and a member of the 1971-72 Southwest Conference co-championship men’s basketball team, says he remembers running onto the floor in front of a packed house of screaming fans and hopes that future athletes have the same experience.
“I still get chill bumps talking about it today. When Moody is full and there is a strong contingent of students, it’s a wonderful facility to play basketball in.”
Once the facility is re-opened, it also will continue to host non-athletic events, such as SMU’s Commencement ceremony, high school graduations and lectures. Moody is located near the soon-to-be-completed George W. Bush Presidential Center, which could use the arena for high-profile speakers and special events.
The renovation will begin in August and is expected to be completed in December 2013, perhaps just in time for the men’s and women’s basketball teams’ first games against Big East opponents. The basketball and volleyball teams will be able to compete in the arena next year as the initial stages of construction take place, but the building will be vacated from March 2013 until it re-opens nine months later. (The May 2013 Commencement will be relocated.)
The renovation comes on the heels of the creation in 2008 of the nearby Crum Basketball Center practice facility, which includes two full-size courts and locker, weight and training rooms.
SMU volleyball coach Lisa Seifert says “joining the Big East and having the facility renovated gets us that much closer to being able to attain our goal of being a top-25 volleyball program.”
Women’s basketball coach Rhonda Rompola says the renovation of Moody Coliseum is “another positive step in showing the commitment that the SMU community, our administration and our president have toward SMU athletics.
To learn more about supporting the Moody Coliseum project, contact Tim Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-768-4465.