POPLARVILLE - Construction on Pearl River Community College new $8.9 million Marvin R. White Coliseum begins this week, seven years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the original facility in August 2005. The 35,400-square-foot facility will be located on the same site as the original coliseum, which opened back in 1974. This is a big news for Pearl River Community College basketball, said Richard Mathis, longtime men basketball coach of the Wildcats. We have waited a long time for this to happen. Since Hurricane Katrina, Wildcat basketball teams have played their home games in Shivers Gymnasium, which was built in 1948. That will end following next season. We were fortunate to have another place on campus to play our home games, said Mathis. Shivers Gym has been good to us. It has served its purpose, but now we are looking forward to the new facility. To have a new on-campus venue is what junior college basketball is all about. It should help our basketball programs in the area of recruitment, and also improve attendance because of the added room and chair-back seating. Architect Lewis Griffin of Petal says construction will take 12 months. The contractor is Rod Cooke Construction of Mobile, Ala. The first floor will feature a lobby with a display area for trophies and a concession stand; coaches offices, spacious strength and conditioning center and sports medicine facility, classrooms and two locker rooms on each side. The new arena, which will have a wood floor, will feature chair back seats along with bleacher seating for students. This coliseum will be bigger than the previous one by 9,000 square feet, due to code upgrades, said Griffin. It will seat between 2,600 and 2,800. The old coliseum sat 2,200. He said it will also feature a projection system, new sound system and full scoreboard package. Sources of funding come from PRCC disaster insurance monies and FEMA. We have waited a long time for this day, said PRCC President William Lewis. This is a signature project for the Poplarville campus. This coliseum will provide a gathering place for many different community events. We are delighted that this project will finally soon be underway. Indeed, the new coliseum will serve as more than a sports complex. Its design affords ready adaptation into a site for concerts and other cultural events, convocations and other community gatherings.