JSU: Domed Stadium Not Dead

Vivian Fuller, the athletic director for Jackson State University, says that plans for the domed venue for the college are still very much alive.

Vivian Fuller, the athletic director for Jackson State University, says that plans for the domed venue for the college are still very much alive. Photo by Trip Burns.

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Vivian Fuller recognizes the challenges that stand in the way of breaking ground on JSU's domed stadium and entertainment venue.

Vivian Fuller, the athletic director for Jackson State University, says that plans for the domed venue for the college are still very much alive.

"It is not dead yet," Fuller said this morning at Koinonia Coffee House.

However, she did recognize the challenges that stand in the way of breaking ground on the domed stadium and entertainment venue. Plans for the project show that the stadium is designed for football, basketball, concerts and special events. For football games, the stadium would hold about 50,000, while it would pack 17,000 fans for basketball games and 21,000 for concerts.

Additionally, the venue would include 75 skyboxes for rental, and JSU's Sports Hall of Fame would occupy the first floor. The design includes 4,500 parking spaces. Another 2,000 are located in garages downtown where shuttle buses can help on big game days.

The biggest obstacle facing the project remains its funding. State Rep. Alyce Clarke, D-Jackson, has introduced legislation to authorize $75 million in bonds for Jackson State. The House Ways and Means and University and Colleges committees will consider Clarke's House Bill 355.

A similar bill gained no traction during the 2013 legislative session, which prompted some Democratic and African American lawmakers to decry the fact that JSU's stadium was left out of a $196.4 million bond package that Mississippi House and Senate budget negotiators worked out. Last year's bond bill did contain money for repairs to the Margaret Walker Alexander Center and the School of Education, and for furniture at a building JSU owns in downtown Jackson, 101 Capitol Centre.

Kimberly Hilliard, executive director of Jackson State University's Office of Community Engagement, explained this morning that part of the reason the Legislature declined to grant funding was lawmakers' beliefs that JSU's attendance numbers do not justify the need for a 50,000-person venue.

Fuller, the athletic director, said the solution to that is simple: "We need to show support with (buying) season tickets."

Comments

Jnutzs 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Money needs to be available for scholarships and upgrades in security measures at jsu, instead of worrying about a new stadium. Seems that some people at jsu have their priorities mixed up. There is an increase in criminal activity on and near campus in jackson that needs to be addressed by taking further measures to protect the students and staff there, so that people can concentrate on studies.

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goldeneagle97 2 months, 3 weeks ago

What numbers due lawmakers consider appropriate for the stadium's size? I also wonder if this is another attempt to hold Jackson back.

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Knowledge06 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes, the Domed Stadium IS Dead. It just hasn't been pronounced yet. This is a pointless conversation. It won't happen. EVER! And this is from a REALISTIC JSU Alum. There is NO fiscal pathway to passage for the bill nor can the stadium size be justified. We averaged a little over 17,000 per game this past 2013 season and that's before we hired 00 Soul as the new head coach. The people that want this particular stadium don't buy season tickets. They pay to tailgate, buy t-shirts,hats and jackets but they don't go into the game. You have to be able to make a case and at this point the case is closed!

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SpaceMountain80 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Part of the reason that it won't happen, besides the cost of the stadium and the need for state money to make it happen, is that some people in the city want a stand-alone arena for concerts and events. They don't want to give control to JSU and have to go through JSU to book concerts and events. They would prefer a standalone 18k or so seat arena that they can manage and book themselves, rather than the university controlling it and handling events.

I think the other thing that comes into play here are taxes. I know that colleges and universities are tax-exempt from a federal standpoint? Are they exempt from city property taxes as well? I would guess so. That would be another reason itself why the city would want a standalone arena - it would bring more taxes into the city than having a multipurpose stadium on university property.

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tomhead1978 2 months, 3 weeks ago

We need to remember that it was only a few years ago that the lawmakers who run the current legislature wanted to abolish all but one of the state's public HBCUs. They're still upset over the Ayers judgment, and are unlikely to put any more funds into JSU than absolutely necessary. January 2016 will, I hope, bring about some changes in the current legislative committee structure that will make economic development proposals like this one possible again.

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662Chillin 2 months ago

I agree. As a Valley alum we definitely see (and feel) how the state does only the necessary minimum as far as HBCUs are concerned.

I am praying and hoping that with the national view of the GOP/Tea Party at an all time low many of us get out in record numbers and vote Bryant, Reeves and all these folks out of office so that this state can move forward

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bubbat 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Jackson State doesn't need a domed stadium, NONE of the colleges in MS need a domed stadium. If JSU wants a new stadium let them and their alumni raise the money for it, just like the rest of the major colleges in MS have done.

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justjess 2 months, 3 weeks ago

@Tomhead1978 You are right on point. Far too many legislators remain P'Oed about the Ayers case and until they are unseated and replaced with forward and positive thinkers, we will be at a stand still as it relates to progress.

@Bubbat Why do you throw out all of this crazy stuff? You know that the stadiums at Ole MS, MS State or USM were not built from alumni money alone. These stadiums were financed through the legislature. So, please stop asking JSU to do what others have not done. Get over it!

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bubbat 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Jess- What's crazy about the truth? Vaught Hemingway Stadium was built in 1915 with a Federal Grant, USM "The Rock" was built in 1932 know as Faulkner Field then was financed by local business man L.E. Faulkner and used unemployed labor during the Depression. Can't find any info on Hardy Field that was built before 1914 the original MSU football field or Scott Field the stadium that replaced but I highly doubt the State paid for it either.

The state might have financed a little of the expansions that were needed to the major colleges stadiums, but no they did not finance the original stadiums, but JSU isn't talking about expansion or even repairs to a stadium that already have, they talking about a Dome to seat 50K that they don't need at all. They already have a stadium that will seat 60k in Veterans Stadium.
If they want their own stadium let JSU or the alumni or a supporter fund it just like the major colleges did with their original stadiums.

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SpaceMountain80 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Justjess, the problem with your logic is the state legislature hasn't spent money on stadiums at Ole Miss, Mississippi State or USM since at least the 1930s. Every expansion since that time has been privately funded. It is difficult to come up with numbers of what the Legislature might have given those 3 schools to get the ball rolling in the beginning (ie the early 1900s) but it wasn't anywhere close to what JSU is wanting from the Legislature now, which is something like $75 million.

The truth is that JSU & JSU alumni are going to have to rally the troops and put together a significant pot of money through fundraising to get this project kickstarted. Until they do that, I really don't think anyone (such as the State Legislature) is going to take them seriously and want to fork over tens of millions of dollars. I think I would actually be fine as a taxpayer with the Legislature matching JSU alumni dollar for dollar with their donations on this project, as a way to challenge JSU to step up to the plate and show some ability to raise funds.

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js1976 2 months, 3 weeks ago

JSU does not even come close to having the attendance numbers to support this stadium. I agree that they need their own stadium on their campus, but this is overkill. Hence the reason they are not getting the funding. Some of you can't point fingers at the Ayers case all day long, but it all boils down to numbers.

I also cannot see the justification for use as an entertainment venue either. Let's face it, rarely do artists sell out the coliseum in our area. So what good is having double the capacity. The Landers Center is about the same size as the coliseum and it doesn't have a problem attracting artists.

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tomhead1978 2 months, 3 weeks ago

SpaceMountain80, js1976:

(1) The reason Ole Miss and MSU haven't built new stadiums in recent years is because they haven't had to; they were already equipped with regionally appropriate infrastructure prior to the Ayers ruling. JSU was not, which is part of the reason why there was an Ayers ruling in the first place.

(2) Ole Miss and MSU both reside in college towns. Jackson is the state capital. The possibility of a major state university's domed venue not being profitable in the capital city of a state, any state, is entertained only because the capital city in question is majority-black and the state in question is Mississippi.

(3) Your suggestion that JSU raise alumni funds for construction of a stadium that allows it to compete on equal footing with other state universities whose stadiums were constructed using state funds nearly a century ago (in the case of Vaught-Hemingway, almost exactly a century ago) fails to acknowledge the funding disparities that have characterized, and continue to characterize, public education at all levels in this state.

(4) As long as people like Rep. John Moore are running things, JSU will not have a domed stadium (period) and Ole Miss and MSU will continue to enjoy the benefits of receiving their infrastructure funding during the pre-Ayers era. I don't dispute this. All the rest of us can offer is public dissent and the hope that, one day, state government will be in the hands of people who see public HBCU funding as a wise investment rather than as a burden imposed by federal litigation.

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bubbat 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Tom -The State DID NOT PAY for Ole Miss or USM's stadiums and probably not State's either when they where built. Is that really that hard for you and Jess to accept and understand?

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SpaceMountain80 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Tom, my point is that neither State or Ole Miss or Southern Miss received millions of dollars for their stadium or for expansions. The stadiums at those universities weren't built at their current 50k to 65k capacities right out of the gate. They were originally smaller stadiums that were expanded with private money from donors, not from State Legislature appropriations. The original money to build the stadiums when they were built in the early 1900s likely included money from the State Legislature but I haven't found a published article yet that is able to state the amount that came from the State Legislature for those stadiums. Some have even suggested that there was federal money involved in the original funding at least one of the stadiums (MSU).

You can't point to MSU and Ole Miss and say "the Legislature paid for your stadium!" without providing the figures to back that up. I am not saying that the Legislature never provided any funding, it is just that I want to see what the figures were to see how much the State actually contributed to those projects. I don't think it is as much as some people want to believe. That is why I am balking a bit at the idea at the State Legislature giving $75 million for a stadium because I don't believe that any money that they contributed towards the other stadiums (MSU, Ole Miss, USM) would come anywhere close to that figure. The Ayers settlement that you mentioned was based on lack of funding for education and educational facilities. It wasn't about funding or sports programs or football stadiums.

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tomhead1978 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I am aware that Ayers didn't address disparities pertaining to sports programs and related infrastructure. That's why we're having a conversation about a hypothetical domed stadium instead of a real one.

If you really think Ole Miss and MSU funded their stadiums using private donors without help from the state budget, that's your hypothesis. You should either (a) do the research to back it up or (b) acknowledge that you have no idea whether or not it's true.

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bubbat 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Tom- I posted the research, did you not read it.

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SpaceMountain80 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Tom, I think it is generally-accepted that the vast majority of expansions at MSU and Ole Miss were done with private money and without state help. The question is whether the initial investments included money from the State and, if so, how much. That is the part that I didn't know the answer to in my previous post above and I admitted that I didn't know the answer.

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js1976 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Tom we are having a coversation about a hypothetical domed stadium because the need for such a venue has not been established. Do you have any proof to back up your claims that this is a result of the Ayers Case? So far, all I see is your hypothesis.

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tomhead1978 2 months, 3 weeks ago

SpaceMountain80, I appreciate the clarification.

js1976, the need—in a capital metropolitan area with an effective population of 400,000 to 550,000, with no domed stadium of comparable size—has been established to my satisfaction. It clearly has not been established to yours, which is fine. I very seriously doubt this legislature is interested in giving JSU a fair hearing, in any case.

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JLucas 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The JSU domed stadium is a fantastic concept, but that's all it is - a pipe dream.

Hopefully, a more realistic and achievable proposal will emerge soon and JSU will be able to move forward in getting its on-campus stadium.

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SARGE315 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Its funny reading the ASScuses from other people saying this and that why Jackson States does not need a dome when school like Ole Miss and Mississippi State and the University of Southern Mississippi get MORE money from the state of Mississippi than the HBCU's of JSU...Alcorn and Miss Valley. certain people are BLOCKED the dome cause they KNOW the revue it will create for Jackson State......The dome will host the NFL....NBA.....WWE....UFC.....concerts.....sporting events and other venues that need to be inside a dome.

So what is the State of Mississippi College funding formula for ALL of the colleges and universities

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js1976 2 months, 2 weeks ago

"The dome will host the NFL....NBA.....WWE....UFC.....concerts.....sporting events and other venues that need to be inside a dome."

Just build it and they will come is nothing more that an ASSumption.

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NotLikeU 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Monster Truck Rallies, Motocross, Nitro Circus, Circus, minor league Ice Hockey, Major Indoor Soccer League soccer team, CRAP Lingerie Football League team...

Once Mississippi looks outside of the general Mississippi, things could really open up.

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bubbat 2 months, 2 weeks ago

You mean Supercross or ArenaCross, motocross is raced outdoors on what is suppose to be natural tracks.

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js1976 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Tom, events rarely sell out the coliseum so I don't see how adding a larger venue will help. I understand the claims that our city is skipped over due to seating capacity of the Coliseum, but the Landers Center doesn't suffer the same problem.

I love music, and love attending concerts. If I thought for one second that this stadium could possible attract more perfomers to add Jackson to their tour schedule I would be on board. However, it wouldn't take long for low attendance turnout to shut that down quickly.

The need for JSU to have their own stadium large enough for their needs has been established.

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Knowledge06 2 months, 2 weeks ago

This is always an interesting discussion but it's really pointless. Further, why hasn't anyone mentioned the fact that JSU has a stadium? It's not on campus but it belongs to JSU. Why hasn't anyone mentioned raising funds to improve what JSU already has. Memorial Stadium isn't far enough from campus that it's really an issue. Since we've never had an on campus stadium, it isn't missed. This is from someone who actually attended and graduated from JSU. By the way, the Landers Center in Desoto County can attract better concerts because it's part of the Memphis Metropolitian Area. That area has almost 800,000 more people than the Jackson Metropolitan area to pull from. That actually makes a difference. A domed venue in Jackson won't change that.

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Knowledge06 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The last feasibility study regarding Veterans Memorial Stadium that information is known was in 1996 and stated that it would cost around $30,000,000 to completely renovate the stadium. Those costs included keeping the size of the stadium as it was. I keep asking the question, where is the current feasibility study beside the dome stadium proposal? Wouldn't it make sense to have those details and numbers to compare? The current stadium can be reduced down and boxes and club seats added.

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js1976 2 months, 2 weeks ago

We can also add the Bancorp South center as a comparison since it is also the same size as our Coliseum. If you look at the event calendar it has a steady stream of events lined up at all times and it is not part of any major metropolitan area.

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tomhead1978 2 months, 2 weeks ago

js1976, one of the arguments made when the idea of a privately-funded stadium was floated—and it's an argument I agree with—is that the limitations of our current venues artificially reduce the number of events that can come to Jackson. If there aren't enough potential ticket sales in a given area to pay overhead expenses, it's a bad idea to hold the proposed event there.

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js1976 2 months, 2 weeks ago

"If there aren't enough potential ticket sales in a given area to pay overhead expenses, it's a bad idea to hold the proposed event there."

This would be my guess as to why we do not get the events that we would like to see come to our area. Hence my strong opposition for such a large center on the JSU campus. The numbers just don't support such a large venue.

The feasibility study Jackson spent $109,000 on in 2012 proposed a new arena of similar size to the coliseum.

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goldeneagle97 2 months, 2 weeks ago

My understanding is that the reason the Coliseum doesn't do so well is because it's outdated & that the acoustics aren't up to speed for major concerts. If it has improved, I stand corrected. I do believe, however, that a modern, state-of-the-art facility is needed here. We can debate the size, but this city can't afford to lose out on major events because of the lack of adequate facilities.

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NotLikeU 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Wow, this article is "not dead". lol

There was support for the dome, if it's moved to the coliseum area. Jackson stopped its arena research for the convention center hear out this JSU dome. JSU says the dome will support all; JSU events, plus major acts for the state of Mississippi. However, the dome effort gives too much fanfare to JSU and will become a beacon for MS which is, unfortunately, not connected to the pride of MSU and/or Ole Miss.

Why couldn't JSU be happy with VMS? They have been playing there all this time and should just improve it. As stated, the structure needs major repairs that would match the cost of building a new stadium. And like the other insitittion Anyways, the Medical Center wants to continue it's expansion efforts and VMS is in the way. They can only wait for so long for JSU to leave VMS.

Right now, JSU has its eye on developing a facility that supports the city and state. Yes, it's more then what the need right now as an institution, but there seems to be a greater good at hand. however, do these parties want or even care for this effort? Is the delays worth it? Should JSU just build something that's JSU only and just plan for expansion projects for the future?

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662Chillin 2 months ago

I love Mississippi but the people running this state just make you wanna throw your hands up sometimes. They are so set on keeping a certain set of people down and stick with their Conservative/GOP ideas that they would rather run this state into the ground than allow these people to come up. The domed stadium would not only benefit JSU but the Jackson area and the state of Mississippi as a whole. Big name entertainers have come straight out and said that the reason why they don't do concerts in Mississippi is because of venues. The chance to host regional NCAA tournament game is reality especially with a new modern venue. Bowl games will definitely come if this venue comes to reality. But everyone knows that a certain group does not want an urban city like Jackson (over 2/3 Black) to benefit from hosting events like this. If your capital city (and largest city) is neglected that just makes the state look bad (Louisiana was the same way with Baton Rouge until some years ago). You can build a billion dollar outlet mall in Pearl but Northside Drive drives like a gravel road. that makes no sense.

There were a lot of valid points made and I was to add my own spin.

People are so hung up on the 50K number but that can always be altered. The fact that JSU and Valley have not had new stadiums built in DECADES says it all (the only reason why Valley got partial renovations was because the stadium was structually DANGEROUS). Whoever brought up JSU already having a stadium in Memorial just makes no sense. It would cost more to upgrade Memorial to modern status than it would cost to built a brand new outdoor stadium (Mississippi is only going to keep the stadium up to code not modernize it). Plus we ALL know that the Medical Center wants that land so badly to build out to 55 but can't get it because of JSU so it's just a waiting game now because JSU is owed a stadium and will get one at some point.

The Ayers case was mentioned and that is a great point. What's going on now with the JSU stadium situation (as well as the other public HBCUs) is the reason why there was an Ayers case judgement in the first place.

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js1976 2 months ago

"People are so hung up on the 50K number but that can always be altered."

Then they should alter it, but I have yet to hear that proposal. For the record, big name entertainers dont overlook MS because of venues. The coast and desoto both get their fair share of big entertainers.

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Knowledge06 2 months ago

"Whoever brought up JSU already having a stadium in Memorial just makes no sense."

I'm the one who brought it up 662chillin! And it actually does make sense. The proposed Dome would cost $200 million dollars. Upgrades to the current facility are far less than $30 million. For comparison purposes, Tulane's football stadium that's currently under construction to be opened in the fall of this year costs $70 million dollars and it seats 30,000. Alabama St.'s football stadium which was opened in the fall of 2013 cost $62 million and it seats 26,500. Regardless of what UMC wants the stadium is owned by JSU. The simple solution has always been to upgrade what you have as have all the other major universities in Mississippi. For the record, Veterans Memorial Stadium was built AFTER the football stadiums at Ole Miss, MS State and USM. All of them have been upgraded from the original facilities.

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Duan 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Knowledgeo6 - I will say this time and time again to you! Open air stadiums are revenue killers!

You can only get so much use out of them

How many events are hosted at Veterans? JSU's 6 homes games - maybe 6 to 8 high school playoff games - then battle of the bands? You would rather put $60+ million in that; rather than build a whole new facility that could do multiple things?

I'm thinking big picture - I would love for us to host SWAC tournaments here - host SWAC football championship game here!

Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss in Basketball down here - where they can easily seat 30,000 in the Capital City.

We need to start thinking big.

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Knowledge06 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Duan, it's ok to think big but JSU doesn't have BIG money! ALL the bills put forth in this legislative session related to the DOME all died in their respective committees. I merely speak from a REALISTIC perspective. I understand what you and others want but it's not going to happen. Look how much time has been wasted chasing something that wasn't going to happen in the beginning. That same effort could have been used and still can be used to raise funds to improve what we already have. It wouldn't cost $60 million to renovate and upgrade the Vet. It would be great to have a current feasibility study that would show what those costs would be though. Then we could have a real conversation.

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SpaceMountain80 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Not to keep this old thread going but, for those that are proposing that JSU stay where they are (Veteran's Memorial Stadium) and just renovating it - that would basically be just a waste of money. Veteran's is way outdated (in the same sense that the Coliseum is outdated and wouldn't be renovated, it would be demolished and replaced). The other reason to not renovate Veteran's and for JSU not to stay at Veteran's Memorial Stadium is that virtually everyone knows that UMC has had their eye on that property for years and has wanted to get hold of it for future expansion. The land that the stadium sits on cannot be sold to UMC until JSU has someplace else to go.

It makes sense for all parties involved if JSU goes somewhere else (I don't think the dome is the right idea but I agree they need something) and then UMC can acquire the land that Veteran's Memorial Stadium sits on today for future expansion plans. That is in the best interest of just about everyone. The holdup is how to finance a stadium for JSU, how much it would cost and how big it would be and whether or not the State should pay for part of the project.

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