Memories remain, but SMU’s Moody Coliseum won’t look the same

After 57 seasons and some great memories, this weekend marks the end of Moody's current configuration.

Moody Coliseum

By Bill Nichols
The Dallas Morning News

UNIVERSITY PARK — It hardly seemed like a big deal to Bobby Mills at the time. The SMU captain’s shot counted for two points in a 113-36 victory.

“It was just a nice little layup,” Mills recalled.

But to think what Mills started with that first basket in an SMU game at Moody Coliseum. On Wednesday night, the last men’s basketball game will be played before Moody shuts down for major renovation.

After the Mustangs’ game against Rice, Mills will take a ceremonial final shot, closing the door on 57 years of memories.

The red brick walls have resonated with the sound of squeaking sneakers from SMU men’s and women’s teams, grunts from John McEnroe’s serves, thuds from Muhammad Ali’s gloves, and the voices of such luminaries as T.S. Eliot, Mick Jagger and Richard Nixon, one of four U.S. presidents to speak there.

Chaparrals, Diamonds, WCT Finals and Virginia Slims have called Moody home. Capacity crowds have welcomed bands such as the Kingston Trio, the Carpenters, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, U2 and Pearl Jam.

SMU basketball has been the common thread.

“A lot of great memories,” said Mills, a season-ticket holder since the early 1960s. “But you’ve got to keep moving forward. That new coliseum is going to be wonderful.”

The SMU Coliseum was among the largest structures of its kind, measuring 230 feet wide and 414 feet long, when it opened in 1956. The 10,000-seat complex was a dramatic change from 3,000-seat Perkins Gym. . .

“It was an electric place to play,” said Mills, 77. “Basketball had really grown. We were really excited about it because most of us had played in high school gyms that were bigger than Perkins. They promised us an updated facility when we were recruited.”

Moody cost $2.5 million to build. The $47-million renovation is well under way outside the arena. On Monday workers will move inside.

When Moody’s doors open to the public again (in December), the facility will feature suites, courtside retractable seats for students, remodeled lobby, concourses, locker rooms and restrooms. Modernizations include video boards on concourse walls, overhead scoreboard, sound system, internet access, heating and cooling systems.

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