The Copiah-Lincoln Community College Board of Trustees announced the unveiling of plans to build a state-of-the-art facility on its Wesson campus that will house both a new performing arts center and a spacious sports arena.
The project is a partnership between Co-Lin and the Mississippi School of the Arts and is currently in the pre-planning phase with hopes to begin construction in 2023.
The Education, Performing Arts and Sports Center (EPAAC) will include a 1,500-seat performing arts theater and a 2,000-seat sports arena with ticketing, concessions and shared restrooms, as well as a common lobby combining the two structures.
“The addition of the EPAAC facility will be monumental for Co-Lin,” said Co-Lin President Dr. Jane Hulon Sims. “There is no other such facility in our area of the state. We want our students, employees and citizens to have the opportunity to use this type of unique and impressive facility. It’s equally exciting to think about the economic development impact the EPAAC facility will have on southwest Mississippi.
Co-Lin and the Mississippi School of the Arts have expanded their partnership to benefit students from both institutions.
“The Mississippi School of the Arts is thrilled to expand its partnership with Co-Lin for the EPAAC project. We [MSA] are landlocked and lack the capacity to build a proscenium theatre, which is an integral part of the performing arts,” said MSA Executive Director Dr. Suzanne Hirsch. “The Co-Lin Performing Arts Center will allow us to have larger productions and provide an industry-standard educational opportunity by better preparing them for their artistic careers. Students will gain the ability to function in all aspects of theater with the EPAAC included in our curriculum.
The 2,000-seat sports arena will allow the college to host area tournaments, graduation and commencement ceremonies for local high schools, and other community events. Co-Lin’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will move from Mullen Gymnasium (built in 1957) to EPAAC and have new locker rooms, laundry facilities and coaches’ offices.
EPAAC will increase educational and performance space for Co-Lin and MSA. This facility will also create new opportunities for economic development in the Seven Country District of Co-Lin and the Southwest Mississippi area, as EPAAC will be large enough to accommodate performing groups and touring theater productions. .
“We also hope to partner with Co-Lin to bring guest artists and performances to our area, which is a largely underserved part of the state,” Hirsch said.