President Clif Smart announced on Thursday, April 21, the changing of John Q. Hammons Arena’s name to Great Southern Bank Arena. The name change came from a 5.5 million dollar donation from Great Southern Bank to the Missouri State Foundation.
Missouri State University received the naming rights four years ago and had yet to choose one until now.
“I wanted to choose a partner that we could be proud of, one that would elevate the university,” said Smart.
The name choice originally comes from John Q. Hammons himself, as he had a relationship with Great Southern Bank and the Turner family, the owners of Great Southern bank.
The current president of Great Southern Bank is Joe Turner.
President Smart addressed how Hammons always wanted Great Southern Bank connected to the arena. The Hammons and Turner relationship led to the gift of a scoreboard in the arena.
The name change is the result of the most recent donation.
Great Southern Bank has been supporting the university since it was first established, and is also MSU’s top marketing partner.
Turner himself has been involved with Missouri State for several years. He has held multiple positions including serving on the board of governors and the foundation board of trustees, participating in the basketball coaching search and two presidential search committees.
Turner attended most of the Bears games with his dad, from the age of five until he left for college. This was a significant memory in his life so being able to support the arena financially has a personal aspect.
“We are so excited to make this gift to the university,” said Turner. “We can't play, we can't coach but we can help the university fund the arena and let Coach Ford and Coach Cunningham continue to focus on making those same kinds of memories for future generations of kids and families.”
Maddilyn Sherman, freshman graphic design major, notes how even being in the first year of college, the name change will still be a struggle.
“I think for a lot of people it's going to be a big change for the name of the arena,” Sherman said. “It's already a bit weird to get used to as a freshman, so I can't even imagine how much of a change it's going to be for the people who have been here for years.”
Victoria Kleene, a sophomore social work major, has more time at MSU and thinks the name will take a while to stick.
“I feel like it will take awhile for many students to get the name correct and for those of us who have been here for years, I believe most of us will continue to call it JQH arena instead of GSB for now,” said Kleene.
Even though the name might be hard to get used to, Kleene agrees with Smart in that this business has a valuable history, and future, with MSU.
“After learning about the history behind the naming and what the bank has done for Missouri State, I'm glad they are the ones who brought on the donation and bought the rights to the name,'' Kleene said. “Since Great Southern Bank has had history with Missouri State, they are a perfect match to continue on with the traditions we hold.”
The new sign will be placed on the arena before the start of the basketball season this year.
Follow Em Blackstone on Twitter, @EmBlackstone
Subscribe to The Standard's free weekly newsletter here.