Mizzou Arena

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Mizzou Arena

Mizzou Arena is an indoor arena on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. The facility, home to the school's men's and women's basketball teams, opened in November 2004 and replaced the Hearnes Center as the school's main indoor sports facility. The arched-roof building seats 15,061, and is located just south of Hearnes and Memorial Stadium. The arena also is host to Missouri State High School Activities Association championships for basketball & wrestling.

Mizzou Arena is double-decked on three sides (the sidelines and the east baseline) and has a single large bleacher section on the west end, where student groups (such as the main "Zou Crew", Student Athletic Board, and the (in)famous Antlers) stand, as well as Mini Mizzou (basketball band). Seats in the south stand, lower level are fully cushioned theatre-style seats and are sold to the members of the Tiger Scholarship Fund club, the main fund-raising arm for the athletic department. There are roughly 35 private boxes between the lower and upper levels, offering full food and drink service, televisions and other comforts. The club level also has a private bar, The Stalcup Room, named for former Tigers coach and athletic director Wilbur "Sparky" Stalcup. The arena has a wider variety of both concession stands and food choices than Hearnes did, and has a large Tiger Team Store outlet.

Naming Controversy

The facility was originally to be called Paige Sports Arena. This name was the result of a $25 million naming rights gift from Wal-Mart heiress Nancy Laurie and her husband Bill. Nancy is one of two daughters of Bud Walton, brother and business partner of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. Although neither of the Lauries attended Mizzou, they have made the school the main beneficiary of their philanthropy. "Paige" is their daughter, Elizabeth Paige Laurie. The primary reason for this generosity is believed to be due to the fact that the Lauries live in Columbia, Missouri.

The name was widely opposed by students, as Paige has no connection to Mizzou other than her parents' monetary giving; she graduated from the University of Southern California in May 2004. In November of that year, Paige's first-semester roommate at USC charged that Paige had paid her $20,000 over four years to write papers, prepare oral reports, and exchange email with Paige's professors. After the charges were aired on local radio station KFRU and the ABC newsmagazine 20/20, the elder Lauries stripped their daughter's name from the arena and returned the naming rights to the university. In October 2005, USC announced that Paige had returned her diploma to USC and was no longer a graduate.

While no major games were played while the building was called the "Paige Sports Arena", several exhibition matches were contested with the offending name on the floor, causing Mizzou officials to put a new arena logo on the court. In addition, the lighted letters that spelled out "Paige Sports Arena" on the façade of the building were sold to a buyer who put them for sale on eBay, only to be taken down when University officials caught wind of the offer.

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