Though the Intramural Sports Building remains closed to students during an ongoing 15-month renovation of the historic structure, the University Sports Coliseum opened Monday for students looking to shoot hoops or run the treadmill.
David Siegle, the Coliseum’s facility manager, said the change is short-term, lasting only until the IM Building renovations are completed in fall 2016.
“It’s done really to make it convenient for the students that live on South Campus,” he said.
The $18.7 million IM Building renovation was approved by the University’s Board of Regents last fall and kicked off in April. The project is funded through a $65 per-term student fee designated to support upgrades to campus unions and recreation facilities.
Improvements to the IM Building are slated to include renovated cardio and fitness spaces, new locker rooms, fitness equipment and communal spaces and improved racquetball courts.
A multi-purpose facility, the 36,000-square-foot Sports Coliseum on South Campus on Fifth Avenue and Hill Street is generally used throughout the year for intramural sports, club sports and as a rental facility.
“Last year it was pretty much just boxing, table tennis, and fencing,” said LSA junior Kyle Monagle, a facility supervisor.
Monagle, who lives in the South Campus area, said the temporary move is in the student body’s best interest.
“I think for next year it will definitely be good to have something on the south side of campus, where people can go play basketball and lift weights,” he said.
During the renovations, public space is expanded to the use of two basketball courts and 58 pieces of strength and cardio equipment reallocated from the IM Building.
However, Monagle said the environment is not the same compared to exercising at the IM Building.
“There’s not as much space,” he said, noting that the IM Building offered four basketball courts, compared to two in the temporary space.”
LSA sophomore Michael Geng said he is grateful the Coliseum will open to students during the renovation, preventing excess foot traffic at the other recreational facilities on campus.
“If this weight room wasn’t open, the CCRB would be packed,” he said. “Even right now in the summer, when I came here last week I had to wait like ten minutes for a squat rack.”
Sarah Button, coordinator of membership, marketing, and sponsorship for Recreational Sports, said her department is trying to make the transition as seamless as possible.
“We’re trying to do everything we can because we know it will be busy in all of our facilities, so we’re trying to help alleviate some of that influx of folks that we know that we’ll be having,” she said.
That process will entail some shifting of employees and teams. Recreational Sports staff members previously located in the IM Building will now work out of the North Campus Recreation Building, where the majority of intramural sports will play this year.
About 1,650 members of the University community currently participate in the Club Sports program — and those students will be impacted, too.
“With the intramural building closed, the intramural sports, the club sports teams have had to kind of branch out for other practice times and locations to make it work,” Siegle said. “It’s one of those temporary things where everyone is going to get the same amount of practice ability; it just might be in a different location than what they’re normally used to.”
A few club teams will continue practicing unaffected in the Coliseum, including boxing and men’s rowing.
LSA junior Joanna Lee, a member of the club field hockey team, said it’s too early to tell whether the changes will cause any major disruptions.
“We’ll see if the parking situation at the Coliseum changes during the school year with more people on campus going there because of the renovations,” she said.
Though Siegle said accommodating the renovations will be difficult, the challenge is only a slight inconvenience compared to the plight faced by smaller universities.
“I know many colleagues in other campuses only have one main recreation facility, so in the year they undergo a renovation, it’s really a huge impact because it shuts everything down,” he said.
The Coliseum’s hours have been extended to accommodate the additional traffic. The facility will remain open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.