Thursday, Southern Miss Athletics revealed their plans to renovate the Reed Green Coliseum. The 50-year-old building can currently hold 8,000 people, however after renovations the building will be able to hold 6,600 to 7,000, depending on the renovations. -Courtesy photo
The University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Director Bill McGillis proposed the options for renovations to Reed Green Coliseum in the Trent Lott Center Thursday. The news brings a bit of hope to USM’s athletic program and fans after a rough season of NCAA investigation.
Reed Green Coliseum hosted its first game back in 1965. The building has only received minor upgrades since then and is long due for a makeover.
Sports architecture firm Populous will headline the project and have already come up with several renderings of what the future Reed Green could look like.
The main complaint about the arena now is the distance of the seats to the court. Most basketball arenas have their seats right on top of the action, but USM fans have had to sit far away.
McGillis said that was the department’s main focus in renovating. They wanted fans closer to action and to provide a more comfortable experience. Renderings show that fans will indeed be closer to the court than ever before.
Also, the bench seating will be taken down and every seat in the arena will be chair back. The new arena will also have a center-hung score board, something the athletic director and others have wanted for a long time.
The building’s arena holds about 8,000 people, but McGillis said seating would drop to somewhere between 6,600 and 7,000 because of changing bench seating to chairbacks.
Other new features to Reed Green Coliseum include a practice court within the arena, a new ticket booth and five to seven new concession stands.
The renovations to Reed Green Coliseum would not only be just for the basketball teams, but also for volleyball and other events. Populous and McGillis were adamant about the arena being multipurpose and being able to host not just potential graduations, but concerts as well.
The last time Reed Green Coliseum hosted a concert was in 2004, when the band Train came to campus. USM has also wanted to host a Conference USA basketball tournament at Reed Green for a while now and McGillis thinks that this is now their best opportunity.
When asked about when the project could potentially get underway, McGillis was mum on the situation.
“It’s going to happen when our community decides it’s going to happen,” McGillis said. “I want go forward at the first opportunity, the sooner the better. But it’s going to be a determination made by a lot of folks as how to do it and when to do it.”
McGillis said the project would cost from $35 to $45 million and its funding and timetable for completion has not been determined yet, but identifying funding will be part of the next phase, according to the Hattiesburg American.
He said the department will start this year with contacting community leaders, campus leaders, financial experts and industry experts together to tackle different funding models and pick the best model for the coliseum.
Populous has been a major proprietor in recent renovations. The firm renovated places such as Yankee Stadium, the University of Phoenix Stadium and a number of NBA arenas like the United Center.
However, McGillis said those projects were not what caught the department’s attention. There was a special renovation they did that got them intrigued in Populous.
“Probably the single most important project that they did that impacted our decision to use them was their renovation of Georgia Tech’s on-campus arena, which is very similar to Reed Green Coliseum,” McGillis said.