About 150 University students, staff and faculty blatantly ignored the “no food or drink” signs as they enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and drinks in the corridor outside the recently finished racquetball courts at the St. Paul Gymnasium on Thursday night.
Guests and gym staff mingled as a jazz band played in the background and floating candles burned on the water in the pool at the reception celebrating the opening of the addition.
McKinley Boston, vice president for Student Development and Athletics, and other administrators were on hand to cut the ribbon hung between the basketball gym and the second floor walkway that connects the building with the addition.
“It’s great to finally see it done,” said Al Gronhovd, one of the gym’s supervisors.
The addition was part of the 1987 Recreational Sports improvement project and doubled the gym’s space. The first half of the renovations were completed in 1990; the remainder of the project was postponed for additional funding.
The renovations included replacing the gym’s small, old pool with a new eight-lane, 25-yard swimming pool, creating more locker room space and adding four racquetball courts.
Perhaps the gym’s new climbing wall will be its greatest attraction for new and old users alike. The 24-foot high wall will give climbers 900 square feet of climbing experience.
“It’s worth the extra $5 or whatever we pay for student service fees,” said Jason Lamon, a senior studying journalism.
Lamon, who is also an employee in intramural sports, said the climbing wall might entice him to visit the gym again, even though all his classes are on the East Bank.
Jeff Olson, the gym’s marketing assistant, said climbers will be required to take an hour-long class on climbing safety to get certified before they can climb.
Climbing instructor Mikhail Vandenberg, who is also an architecture student, said those classes will be offered on Mondays and Tuesdays at noon, and on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. The gym might offer classes at other times depending on demand.
Olson said tonight the gym staff are hosting “Jam the Gym” night. In addition to offering open recreation time, Olson said there will be swing dancing and drawings for prizes, including an iMac computer and University sweatshirts and T-shirts donated by the University Bookstores.