Greg Byrne gives update on proposed new Alabama basketball arena

Coleman Coliseum on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa was first opened in...
Coleman Coliseum on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa was first opened in 1968.(Source: Kelvin Reynolds/WBRC)
Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 3:59 PM CST
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - While the idea of a new basketball arena for the University of Alabama is still very much on the drawing board, it could be a while before anyone sees shovels in the dirt.

University of Alabama Athletics Director Greg Byrne says a new Coleman Coliseum is still very much a worthy goal and something they want to pursue, but when the first announced the idea back in February, they did not foresee a big opponent – rising costs.

Sitting in his office Wednesday morning, it was clear Byrne still has the vision of a new basketball arena . He said he’s not alone in the commitment; so are UA President Dr. Stuart Bell and the Board of Trustees.

“It is a priority and we need to address what Coleman is because it is 50 plus years old,” said Byrne.

Coleman Coliseum first opened its doors in 1968.

The initial price tag of a new Coleman was set at around $183 million and, Byrne says, donors have been quite generous in contributing towards that amount. But COVID came along and, more recently, the ‘I’ word that’s delayed the project in a very big way.

“Since then, we’ve been trying to get our arms around inflation taking place and it’s been significant and I think one of the common messages you hear is you have the money but I haven’t found that bank account yet that has a secret stash of money to put towards that,” Byrne said.

Several locations are being considered for the new arena including a spot near the softball field on campus. But pinning down the exact spot won’t be settled until university leaders get a better understanding what the true costs will be.

“And so, what those numbers are have been changing pretty dramatically with inflation,” he said.

Greg Byrne says it’s a reality they’re facing now but in no way diminishes the importance of pursuing a new arena.

“I’ve said once before and I’ll say it again, I don’t think anyone wants the arena more than Christy Curry, our gymnastics coach and myself and we want to see this for our program but not jeopardize the rest of our department,” said Byrne.

For perspective, Coleman Coliseum costs $4.2 million to build 54 years ago, a mere fraction of what it would cost to build a new Coleman Coliseum today.

Greg Byrne says the original place was to renovate Coleman but after studying the numbers, they felt a new area was the better option.

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