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New Home for Hurricane TU, Tulsa Officials Break Ground on New Arena

Dave Sittler Published: May 1, 1997

BIOG: NAME: UPD: 19970501 -TEXT-

TULSA - A University of Tulsa men's basketball program that has used 13 local sites over its 86-year history moved closer Wednesday to realizing the school's goal of constructing an on-campus arena.

University and community officials conducted ground-breaking ceremonies for the $28 million University Arena and Convocation Center that will will include an 8,000-seat arena for basketball and volleyball. The facility is scheduled for completion in fall 1998.

"People like myself, who have only been here for a couple years, really don't know the battles that have been fought to get this to happen," said Steve Robinson, who has posted a 46-18 record in two seasons as TU's basketball coach. "This is very exciting."

Tulsa has played home contests at the downtown Maxwell Convention since the 1977-78 season. But the team conducts most of its practices at the Mabee Gym, an on-campus building with no seating.

Robinson said the arena will help create a true home-court advantage, and also silence those who use the lack of a an on-campus facility against TU during recruiting.

"We only spend five percent of our practice time downtown, and yet that's our home court," Robinson said. "And some people say (TU) doesn't even have a place to play on campus. Now we have a place."

Although construction started in March, TU board of trustees chairman Keith E. Bailey said the school still needs to raise bout 40 percent of the funds needed to pay for the structure.

Bailey said funds raised to date came via private donations from alumni and friends of the university. The ground-breaking, Bailey said, was needed to help TU kickoff a broad-based campaign to complete the fund drive.

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