Marvin R. White Coliseum construction delayed again
Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Pearl River Community College graduates will have to wait at least another semester before they can walk across the stage of Marvin R. White Coliseum.
Marvin R. White Coliseum was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and construction on the building was originally planned for completion by May 2013, just in time for last year’s graduation, said PRCC President Dr. William Lewis.
Lewis said due to weather conditions in 2012, the college granted the construction company an extension until December 2013.
Five months later, the facility is still not done.
“We had really looked forward to having our first graduation in the coliseum this spring,” Lewis said.
He said now the college is looking at a summer completion, but Lewis was unable to give an exact completion date.
“It’s kind of a let down,” Lewis said. “We just have to do the best we can with it right now.”
Lewis said the flooring, seating and all major construction has been completed, but the minor construction details are still being finalized.
Instead, PRCC’s spring graduation will take place at the Forrest County Multi Purpose Center, which seats about 2,600 people.
Lewis said the college has held graduation at the multi purpose center since Hurricane Katrina.
The coliseum was home to more than just commencement ceremonies each year. It was also the home to basketball games and various community events.
PRCC Athletic Director Jason Francis had hoped the men’s basketball state championship win at Shiver’s Gym in 2013 would have been the team’s last game the gym.
“It’s been good to us over the years,” Francis said. “It was almost a storybook ending for that gym.”
Francis said while some of the delays were due to the weather, there were also design changes made to the plans once he was promoted to athletic director last year.
“Our goal for the coliseum is that it stands the test of time and that it will be here for the next 50 years,” Francis said.
He said the suggested changes would help make that goal possible.
Francis hopes the men’s basketball team will be practicing in the new facility by this summer to allow the team time to become accustomed to the new space before basketball season begins in November.
“We’ll be going full force once school starts,” Francis said.
Francis said the athletic department hopes to host a countywide tournament at the coliseum once construction is completed to kick off the building’s new beginning. The tournament will also give the community an opportunity to become familiar with the building, Francis said.
Lewis said the college used to host show choir competitions, dance recitals, student recruitment events and almost all of the local high school graduations at the coliseum previous to Hurricane Katrina.
“There were probably as many community events as there were college events in the facility,” Lewis said.
He said he looks forward to once again hosting those community events.
The Marvin R. White Coliseum wasn’t the only building on the Poplarville campus that experienced significant damage during Hurricane Katrina.
Two residence halls, Marion and Lamar Hall, and the auditorium were extensively damaged during the hurricane. Lamar Hall reopened during the 2013 fall semester and Marion Hall reopened about three years ago, Lewis said.
“It’s been nine years and we never dreamed it would take that long,” Lewis said.