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SMU's renovated Moody Coliseum and Miller Event Center to open for commencement and basketball

December 07, 2013

DALLAS (SMU) – With the snip of a red ribbon, SMU's expanded and renovated Moody Coliseum and the new Miller Event Center will officially open at December Commencement Convocation Dec. 21.

The 167,000-square-foot complex and Dallas landmark is home to SMU men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball and the pageantry of SMU academic ceremonies, as well as numerous community events such as concerts, cultural programs and high school graduations. The renovation and expansion features new seating, entertainment areas, court improvements and infrastructure, yet retains the ambiance that has made Moody a favorite venue for more than 50 years.

“With this renovation and expansion of Moody Coliseum and the addition of the new Miller Event Center, SMU will be home to one of the finest collegiate arenas and events centers in the country,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.  "We are thankful to the Moody Foundation and David and Carolyn Miller and others for their support of this facility, which will benefit the entire North Texas area."

SMU Provost Paul Ludden said that it was appropriate that the first event to be held in the facility will be the University’s December Commencement Convocation ceremony. “Our graduates and their families and friends will help us usher in a new era in this remarkable facility.”

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, beginning with a 1965 gift in support of the SMU Coliseum on campus that, in acknowledgement, was renamed Moody Coliseum.  Since that time, the foundation also has supported improvements to Fondren Science Building.

Alumnus and trustee David Miller ’72, ’73 and his wife, Carolyn, also committed $10 million toward the renovation project in 2011. The Miller Event 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 suites with courtside views, along with administrative areas to support student-athletes and coaches.  The Miller Champions Club is named in honor of David Miller by contributions of several friends, including leadership commitments from Gina and Tucker Bridwell and Belle and Don Berg. Early funding of a feasibility study and conceptual design for this significant construction project was provided by Sylvie and Gary Crum. 

The subsequent leadership of the Moody Foundation and the Millers, as well as other generous donors, made the enhanced project a reality, including new features benefitting event audiences, sports fans and student-athletes. New seating has been added throughout the approximately 7,000-seat arena, including 12 courtside suites, 80 loge seats, club seats, courtside retractable seating for students and accessible seating.

Moody Coliseum renderingFor SMU basketball, the court features a new floor design that highlights the tradition of the University’s men’s and women’s programs. The large SMU Mustang logo dominates center court, creating a clean, classic design, and Web and social media markings -- SMUMustangs.com and @SMUMustangs -- have been added to the sidelines. The Moody Court will be easily recognizable by national audiences as the Mustangs' exposure reaches unprecedented levels during SMU’s inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference. All 18 men's conference games will be nationally televised during the 2013-14 season.

Arena technology improvements include a new nine-foot-by-24-foot center-hung scoreboard with four HD video boards, made possible by PlainsCapital Bank. Other improvements include LED boards throughout the arena, a distributed sound system, wireless access and enhanced broadcast capabilities.

“The fan experience has been enhanced throughout the facility, and our student-athletes will know that they are showcasing their skills in a one-of-a-kind arena that blends the best of the traditional Moody experience with 21st Century technology," said Rick Hart, SMU director of athletics. "We can’t wait for our fans to experience Moody Magic in our new facility.” 

Guests arriving at the arena will enter through Bolin Plaza, a paved, landscaped area at the west entrance, made possible by a gift from Jane and Pat Bolin and Carla and Daniel Bolin. Moody's renovated Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers Lobby opens to a view of the arena, while the surrounding widened concourses feature vaulted ceilings. Fans may purchase Mustang merchandise at the new Richey Fan Store, named in honor of Lillian Zars Richey, on the south concourse and enjoy an expanded menu at one of four new concession stands and grills, including two named in honor of Craig and Carrie Levering and family. Exhibits in alcoves throughout the concourse will recognize project donors and feature the current men's and women's basketball and volleyball teams, the Lettermen's Hall of Fame and Silver Anniversary Mustang Awards, University ceremonies and Mustang athletic history. Other renovated concourse areas include new restrooms and new meeting areas.

Miller Event CenterMoody Coliseum's 39,245-square-foot addition, the Miller Event Center, includes a 5,000-square-foot furnished entertainment area on the main floor - the Miller Champions Club, 12 premium suites with courtside views, LED televisions and in-suite catering, and a balcony terrace that is available during men's basketball games to those with suite, floor, loge and club seats. Suites will seat 35, 18 or 12 guests and are available for lease. The Miller Event Center also includes the Youngkin Administration Suite, named through a gift from Suzanne and Glenn Youngkin, that provides offices for coaches and conference rooms for student-athlete and team meetings.

Another entertainment area, the 8,310-square-foot Hall of Fame Club, is located on the east side of the arena. The 175-seat furnished space is available for events before and after games.

Moody Coliseum's event level renovation features a new Mustang women’s volleyball locker room, training area and ice pool. It also features a locker room and training facilities for visiting teams. Men's and women's basketball locker rooms will remain in Crum Basketball Center, which adjoins Moody Coliseum.

Leadership Support from Moody Foundation and David and Carolyn Miller

The Moody Foundation continues its longstanding support of education with its gift to the Moody Coliseum renovation. William L. Moody, Jr., and his wife, Libbie Rice Shearn Moody, laid the groundwork for the family’s dedication to community involvement when they established the Moody Foundation in 1942 in Galveston, Texas. The foundation was created to benefit present and future Texans, and starting in the 1960s, it began awarding 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 historical preservation initiatives. In more recent decades, investments in foundation-initiated projects related to traumatic brain injury and the development of tourism in the Galveston area have been a major focus. As the reach of the foundation expanded and strengthened, the need for a permanent location in North Texas became evident and, in 1996, an office in Dallas was established.

Moody ColiseumToday, Dallasite Frances Moody-Dahlberg, great-granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. William L. Moody, Jr., and a 1992 graduate of SMU, serves as executive director and trustee for the foundation. Her father, Robert L. Moody, Sr., and brother, Ross R. Moody, also serve as trustees for the foundation. SMU and the Moody Foundation have enjoyed a long partnership, including the foundation’s support of facility improvements to the Fondren Science Building and, most notably, Moody Coliseum.

David and Carolyn Miller's gift to expand Moody Coliseum is the most recent example of their generous support of SMU in areas across the University. David Miller fulfilled his dream of attending college and playing basketball at SMU after being awarded an athletic scholarship that paved the way for his success, both at SMU and in his career. He earned B.B.A. and M.B.A. degrees from SMU, where, as an undergraduate, he was a three-year starter and letterman on the varsity basketball team and a member of the 1971-1972 Southwest Conference Co-Championship team.

Mr. Miller went on to co-found EnCap Investments L.P., a leading private equity firm based in Houston and Dallas, where he serves as a partner. He also serves as president of The David B. Miller Family Foundation, with Mrs. Miller serving as vice president. Through the foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Miller have supported the Edwin L. Cox School of Business, SMU Athletics, SMU-in-Taos, and scholarships for students in several different areas of study. In 2012, Mr. and Mrs. Miller received the Mustang Award in recognition of their extraordinary philanthropic support of SMU.

In addition to their financial contributions, Mr. Miller serves as an SMU Trustee and as a member of the Executive Board for the Edwin L. Cox School of Business, and Mrs. Miller serves as a member of the Executive Board for SMU-in-Taos. Mr. Miller has been awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from both SMU and the Edwin L. Cox School of Business, recognizing his professional success and leadership.

New Moody to Keep Its Old Magic

When Moody Coliseum opened in 1956, it was one of the largest structures of its kind. It has been home to exciting athletic events, academic ceremonies, concerts and performances – an SMU asset shared with the Dallas community.

SMU men's basketball moved into Moody in time for the 1956-57 season, filling the arena with fans after the team's first and only NCAA Final Four appearance at the 1955-56 season March tournament.

Moody Coliseum renderingWomen’s basketball came to Moody Coliseum in 1976 and women’s volleyball began in Moody 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. SMU Commencement speakers have included former First Lady and SMU graduate Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, journalists Jim Lehrer and Bill Moyers, comedian Bill Cosby and Oscar-winning actress and SMU graduate Kathy Bates. Four U.S. presidents have spoken at Moody Coliseum: 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 entertainers such as the Kingston Trio, the Rolling Stones, John Denver, Three Dog Night, the Grateful Dead, Queen, U2 and Pearl Jam.

Dallas’ first professional basketball team, the Chaparrals, played most of its home games at Moody from 1967-73 before the team moved to San Antonio and was renamed the Spurs. From 1971 to 1979, Moody hosted one of the biggest tennis championships of the year, the World Championship Tennis Finals. The Virginia Slims of Dallas Tennis Championships and the Rolex Intercollegiate Indoor Tennis Tournament also were held at Moody Coliseum.   

Younger athletes also have polished their skills there. Cheerleading, basketball and volleyball camps, Boy Scout conferences and fundraising dance marathons have taken place at Moody Coliseum through the years.

The gifts to Moody Coliseum and the Miller Event Center count toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which to date has raised more than $780 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. The campaign coincides with SMU’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915.

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

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