Newly renovated Carpenter Sports Building unveiled
Published: Sunday, September 1, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 1, 2013 14:09
Baby Blue and YoUDee posed for photos and danced with students as cheerleaders chanted the university fight song during the grand opening of the Carpenter Sports Building Monday morning. Despite worries that construction would not be completed in time, the ribbon cutting proceeded on schedule.
The project, which began a year and a half ago, was put into place due to a high demand and need for additional exercise facilities, university President Patrick Harker said at the ceremony. He said the recreation master plan showed the university was falling behind on indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, which made the installation of new facilities a top priority.
Despite the successful opening of the building, Harker said it would have been difficult to believe it could come together a week ago. He said important projects like painting, installing exercise equipment and landscaping were still in the works and caution tape was everywhere. Hard work and dedication to rolling the project out prior to the start of classes kept the grand opening on schedule, he said.
“What a great way to start a fall semester, opening a bigger and better recreational facility for our students,” Harker said. “This $25 million project is the largest in the 70-year history of the Carpenter Sports Building.”
Harker said he credited the Carpenter family, specifically R.R.M. Carpenter, with the initial construction on the building. He said Carpenter funded its construction out of his own pocket and in 1943, the building was opened for the first time.
“I think the Little Bob has inspired such much generosity because this is a community that recognizes the value of a healthy university,” Harker said. “We understand the value of a space dedicated to getting us moving and active, away from our computers and phones and video games, to get us engaged with each other outside of the classroom and the office, to celebrate physical activity and competition and the sense of community that these things build.”
The new Carpenter Sports Center is three times the size of the previous facilities, which had over half a million visits per year annually, Harker said. Additions like an indoor track, a floor dedicated to strength training and Synergy 360, a multipurpose exercise station, are currently available for use, while an improved rock climbing wall and a second turf field are expected to open later in the fall, he said.
Senior Jessica Borcky, president of the Student Government Association, said the building has been transformed into an amazing place for students to practice sports and recreation.
“I was fortunate enough to have a tour last week, and the inside is beautifully constructed to fulfill our needs as students,” Borcky said. “Not only was our comprehensive student fee put to good use through this project, but also, our voices were heard along the way.”
Borcky said new students lucky to be able to begin their college careers with a new and improved facility, and she believes returning students will be impressed by how updated the equipment and building are. She said she was encouraged by how much input student opinions had in the construction, and she feels students should be proud of what was accomplished with the building.
Graduate student Eric Chen said he came to the grand opening to get a feel of the new sports center, as he plans to exercise frequently. He said the previous space was lacking in certain critical areas, and he hopes they were addressed during the construction.
“I don’t know all the improvements they made, so I’m excited to see,” Chen said. “I’m excited to see the amount of space to accommodate all the new students.”
Jacob Olkkola, associate director of athletics, said the project was a direct result of the university listening to what students had to say. He said he is thrilled and excited to see how students react to all of the changes. He joined the university in 2010 and has been working on the new building plans since the beginning, he said.
“I don’t look at this as the end, I look at it as the beginning,” Olkkola said. “We now have, operationally, a whole other group of challenges that we have to face.”
Olkkola said they specifically targeted the Monday prior to classes beginning, as it is one of the few days when students will be around and not have class. He said only the hard work and collaborative efforts of the teams working on the building allowed them to meet their original due date.
Along with the space being dramatically increased, the amount of exercise equipment available has tripled, Olkkola said. He also said the multimedia updates students expect have also been added, so students can plug in their iPods, check their email and watch TV while they exercise. He said he hopes the updates will help encourage even more people to come to the gym.
“Even with our very old, dated facility, our numbers were incredibly high,” Olkkola said. “Common sense would tell me that yes, our numbers will go up now that it’s a bigger, better, brighter place, but I tell you, half a million uses is already a big number, so we’ll see.”