SBJ/October 24-30, 2011/Facilities

SMU uses suite plan first designed for Duke

Southern Methodist University plans to build a three-story tower with suites looking into Moody Coliseum, part of a $40 million renovation of the school’s basketball arena.

The design by 360 Architecture is similar to a model the firm’s Tom Waggoner proposed eight years ago for Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. The arenas are more than 50 years old and have virtually the same footprint.

SMU
New suites and loge boxes are seen to the left in a rendering of a remodeled Moody Coliseum.
“Architects laid over the blueprints of Cameron and Moody and they come within 6 inches of having the same floor layout and seating bowl,” said SMU Athletic Director Steve Orsini. “It helped us to think about what we could do to renovate our building.”

In Dallas, the new tower facing the north side of Moody Coliseum will have a private club on the first floor, office space on the second floor and 10 suites on the third level overlooking the court.

The renovation calls for punching two holes in Moody’s north wall: One will allow views from the tower suites, and the other will connect 48 new loge boxes inside the arena to the private club. The four-seat loges, also on the north side, extend from ground level to mid-aisle in the seating bowl.

To develop the skyboxes, the top four to five rows of regular seats near the top of the north side of the arena will be removed to provide open views to the court for suite holders. Down below, three rows of seats around the perimeter of the bowl will be eliminated to install the loge boxes, as well as seats that meet the federal Americans with Disabilities Act code. As a result, Moody’s total seat count will be reduced from 8,988 to about 7,500.

SMU hoops supporters who buy the suites and loge boxes will have exclusive access to the tower club beneath the stands, Orsini said.

The school hired CSL International to complete a study to determine pricing for the suites and loges. SMU holds its multimedia rights in-house and plans to sell the premium seats on its own, Orsini said.

SMU has $32 million in private donations committed to the arena renovation, meeting a university requirement to have 80 percent of the money pledged before starting design. “We passed that milestone this spring, and hopefully by next summer we will see dirt flying here,” Orsini said.

Within two weeks in April, SMU received two large financial gifts to help pay for construction. The Moody Foundation donated $20 million to keep its name on a building it originally helped pay for 55 years ago. Separately, former SMU basketball player David Miller donated $10 million for the project.

The private school, which has an enrollment of about 11,000, does not have a large alumni base, but officials are confident they can sell all of the new inventory. “If we price it properly, it is all revenue we can use to add more things to the project,” Orsini said.

The goal is to complete the renovation by Dec. 1, 2013. The arena renovation fits with SMU’s strategy to elevate its basketball program to top-25 status and join a BCS conference in football, Orsini said.

Moody’s face lift will bring it up to date with Crum Basketball Center, SMU’s three-year-old basketball practice facility, and Gerald J. Ford Stadium, the school’s football stadium, which opened in 2000.

Duke’s campaign to renovate Cameron Indoor Stadium, part of a $100 million athletic facilities master plan, does not include a suite project at this time, said Mike Cragg, the school’s senior associate athletic director.

In 2003, Waggoner, while designing a retractable bleacher system at Cameron Indoor, presented an idea to athletic officials to build skyboxes on top of the Schwartz-Butters Athletic Center, a six-story building next to the arena.

The suite addition remains part of a long-term vision for improving Cameron Indoor, Cragg said.

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