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SPRINGFIELD, MO-Missouri State University kicked off construction of a new $67-million basketball arena with a recent ground-breaking ceremony on its campus here. JQH Arena, which is named for locally based hotel developer John Q. Hammons, is slated to open in time for the 2008-2009 basketball season. Hammons, a long-time supporter of the university, has pledged $30 million for the new facility.

Designed by architectural firms Ellerbe-Becket and Pellham Phillips, the arena will feature more than 11,000 seats, a grand entrance, 22 private suites, more than 100 loge seats, 55 courtside seats, a Hall of Fame, a team souvenir store, a ticket office and a 4,500-sf club. Construction management firm J.E. Dunn is also a member of the project team.

University officials say they had to pare down their original “wish list” for the arena to come up with an affordable design for the facility. Estimates based on the initial plans for the arena were more than $75 million. “We worked very hard to get the cost as low as possible,” Michael T. Nietzel, university president, says in a statement. “We reduced our wish list and went through a rigorous process to get the project cost down to a level we could afford.”

The scaled-back design now includes one concourse instead of two, and the number of seats has been reduced to 11,000 from 12,000. However, up to 1,500 seats can be added in the future. There also is shell space for home locker rooms, offices and a training room that can be added later.

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