MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Several hundred members of the public joined Central Michigan University and community dignitaries to officially break ground on the new CMU Events Center Saturday afternoon.
"We are very excited to be throwing the dirt today on such an innovative and long-time coming project on this campus," said CMU's Interim President Kathleen Wilbur. "This really is a gateway to our campus. This will be a very different look and feel to the southern part of campus."
The multi-purpose building will include a 9,000 square foot entry, a ticket center, bookstore, and will be considered the beginning and ending point of every student's experience on campus.
"We want a gateway where visitors come in, they are welcomed to the campus, and finally when it is time for graduation, they finish right here as well," said Wilbur.
Inside, the arena portion of the renovation will be highlighted by improved seating, restrooms, lighting and sound systems, and concessions. The building will also include a new practice facility for CMU's court teams, a stand-alone wrestling facility, and will be designed to host a multitude of campus events that will enhance campus and community life. There will also be a 6,000 square foot addition to the Student Activity Center, meeting a request by students to increase fitness space.
"Last night (at the Hall of Fame banquet) we celebrated the great history of our athletics program. Today we begin to write a new chapter, not only in the life of Chippewa athletics but that of the entire university and the greater mid-Michigan community," said CMU Athletics Director Dave Heeke.
"This is a tremendous new addition to this campus," continued Heeke, "consistent with the great new building projects that have occurred with our education building, the residence halls, our library and the health professions building. This campus has been transformed and this will be a dynamic new building that will add to that."
Wilbur called the Events Center renovation a strategic investment for students searching for their academic homes. On-campus enrollment in 1973, when Rose Center opened, was about 14,000. This year's enrollment is at a record-high 20, 444. She also recognized the McGuirk family for their lead gift in the project.
"When somebody is that generous and that up front that early in the process, we hope that makes others want to make a contribution," Wilbur remarked.
"From an athletics standpoint, this gives our teams and our coaches a facility to compete in and recruit to that is a legitimate Division I facility," said Heeke. "This will be a value to all of our athletics programs. From a university perspective, this truly illustrates an incredible investment and commitment to enhancing the overall student experience."
Construction will begin this fall, but will not interfere with any of the athletics teams' competition schedules. The new facility is scheduled to be complete in time for the 2010-11 basketball seasons.