BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- When it comes to women's athletics, the Southeastern Conference has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 40 years. While we have shared many of the great people behind the past four decades, sometimes pictures can tell the story even better.
In today's "#SEC40" feature, we take a peek at the league's facilities, showing a "then" and "now" look at how far member institutions have come to support women's athletics. Special thanks to each featured school's website, which provided much of the information you read below.
A South Carolina Makeover
An exciting era in the history of the University of South Carolina and the athletics department opened in November, 2002, with the unveiling of Colonial Life Arena (originally The Colonial Center - it was renamed in July 2008).
Colonial Life Arena has a seating capacity of nearly 18,000 for basketball and 19,000 for other events. Not only is Colonial Life Arena the largest arena in the state, it opened as the 10th-largest on-campus basketball facility in the nation and the fourth-largest in the Southeastern Conference.
However, that is not always where the Gamecocks played. Take a look at a picture of their former digs below, followed by their new place now.
A New Track For The Razorbacks
When it comes to top track programs in the country, Arkansas is among the nation's elite. The Razorbacks transformation as a track and field team is also evident in their facilities, which have undergone a major face lift during the past 40 years. John McDonnell Field, named for legendary track coach John McDonnell, is now of one the top venues in the country.
The previous facility was razed and complete new construction took place in 2006, with seating made available for 7,000 and a video scoreboard being built.
The New Look Of Tiger Softball
Not many college softball programs have the resume of LSU. One of the SEC's flagship programs in the sport, the Tigers have won five conference championships while appearing in 13 NCAA Tournaments. It only made sense that their playing facility matched their on-field success, and in 2009 the new "Tiger Park" was born. Capable of seating nearly 2,500 fans, the park features 1,289 chair back and bench back seats, a party deck on the third base side and a 30-seat suite above the first base line.
In its first four seasons, Tiger Park has already seen 112,176 fans come through its gates which include a program-record 1,286 per game average during the 2011 season. The "old" and the "new" can be viewed below.
Ole Miss Tennis
The University of Mississippi's Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center ranks as one of the nation's finest collegiate facilities. Located in the heart of campus and surrounded by towering magnolia trees, the tennis center (completed in 1990) underwent dramatic enhancements in 2012, complimenting an already stunning facility.
The $2 million expansion included improving player and coach areas with a new team building for both the men's and women's team-with locker rooms and team meeting rooms-while the existing building was renovated to include new offices for both head coaches and assistant coaches as well as visiting locker rooms and a stringing room. Rooftop pavilions above each team building provide additional viewing for fans to enjoy all the exciting action.
A New Arena In Auburn
The Auburn University Board of Trustees approved the building of the new $92.5 million Auburn Arena and Practice Facility on June 29, 2007. Unveiled in 2010, the new state-of-the-art arena is now home to men's and women's basketball and gymnastics on the Plains. A truly impressive building, the facility can hold just over 9100 to watch Tiger events.
As you can tell in the pictures below, Auburn Arena gives a modern and sleek look to what had been the Tigers old home, Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.