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USI unveils $66 million sports arena

Updated: Apr. 1, 2019 at 10:35 PM CDT
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VANDERBURGH CO., IN (WFIE) - University of Southern Indiana welcomed community members for the first time at its new $66 million arena and athletic complex.

At 90,000 square feet seating 4,800 people, it’s an investment USI stakeholders hope leaves a memorable first impression.

“It just keeps getting better," Ernie Hicks said in awe standing on the arena’s floor for the first time. “It’s been just a real treat to see the university grow over the years as it has. I graduated in ’74. The distance they’ve come from there to now is nothing short of amazing," Hicks said.

Last week, Screaming Eagle fans set a NCAA Division II Elite Eight opening round attendance record at the Ford Center. Now, university leaders are hoping those same fans help pack the new arena next season.

“Gyms here back in the ’70s were not like this. It has come so far. It’s amazing," Hicks said.

USI’s new President Dr. Ronald Rochon greeted people touring the new facility.

“I was in here last week, and I’ve got to tell you as soon as I walked in here, I got goosebumps,” Dr. Rochon told the crowd. “It’s absolutely beautiful. This is your facility. This is your campus. Come here often, use it often.”

The arena cost $27 million to build. University officials tell us construction will begin in May on a $38.5 million renovation to the rest of the athletic complex. The next phase will include an aquatic center and a public safety building.

Screaming Eagles arena will be home to Men’s and Women’s Basketball and Volleyball programs. The arena offers box seating and a large Varsity Club room with eagle’s eye view of the hardwood.

Seat selection for current season ticket holders and Varsity Club members will begin in mid-June. New season ticket holders will follow later in the summer.

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