Plans to replace the Coleman Coliseum are not expected to proceed any time soon, according to Stuart Bell, president of the University of Alabama.

During a meeting with the Rotary Club of Tuscaloosa Tuesday, Dr. Bell discussed the rapid growth the University of Alabama has experienced since he began serving as president in 2015.

Bell said for the 2022-2023 academic year, the university broke 33 enrollment records, including the largest overall enrollment of over 38,000 students and having the largest freshmen class of 8,000 students.

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Bell said with the consistent growth of the university, there is a need to have facilities to accommodate and retain students at the Capstone and said there are a dozen of construction projects happening across the campus with new buildings and renovations to existing facilities to aid that effort.

When asked about the new basketball arena, which was approved by the UA Board of Trustees in February, Bell said the university is looking to move forward with plans but at a slower rate to assess constructions cost challenges that have affected the start of the process.

"We are certainly working on the design of it," Bell said. "A real challenge we've had over the past 12 months is construction costs and we're trying to watch and see where those are going."

Bell said in some cases, the costs have seen increases of 30 to 40 percent, which he said "is not in our plan to do."

"You wouldn't want to be bidding a project like that today, that's for sure," Bell said.

The $183 million arena would hold 10,400 seats for basketball and gymnastics competitions in Tuscaloosa.

Greg Byrne, director of athletics, proposed the idea to the board of trustees, who approved the preliminary project scope and budget for a new athletic arena on UA's campus.

Stay connected with the Tuscaloosa Thread for future updates on this projects as coverage continues.

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