Gopher Spot gives renovation a shot

The game room and convenience store is scheduled to be closed until Sept. 5.

Vadim Lavrusik

Students coming to the Gopher Spot for a bite to eat or to play a game of bowling will be redirected to a temporary location.

The Gopher Spot, a game room and convenience store in the St. Paul Student Center, was moved March 20 to a transitory site because of renovations.

The temporary site consists of a convenience store across from the bookstore.

Lori Smith, Twin Cities Student Unions assistant director for retail, said the original Gopher Spot location will remain closed through summer semester, but is scheduled to reopen Sept. 5 in time for the start of the fall semester.

The decision to renovate came after Twin Cities Student Unions officials reviewed customer input and product surveys, Smith said.

In the surveys, customers requested an updated interior, more lounge room and a greater variety of products – all things that the renovation will address, Smith said.

“We’re renovating to better serve our customers,” Smith said.

The renovated Gopher Spot will include a new floor and ceiling, and new paint and lighting. There also will be extra game-room features such as cosmic bowling, a separate bowling counter and a bigger lounge area. The convenience store will feature new products such as soup, espresso drinks, ice cream, more seating space and more healthful choices on the menu.

Graphic design senior Grace Eelkema, who went to the Gopher Spot for a “pick-me-up” snack between classes, said the old location was dark compared with its temporary counterpart.

Although the new location will be brighter and will include more products, Eelkema said, she did not think the facility needed a complete renovation.

Fred Clayton, who is project manager for the renovation, said the demolition in the interior of the Gopher Spot will begin Monday, although crews already have begun preparatory work.

The project is funded by the Twin Cities Student Unions’ building reserves, Clayton said. This money helps maintain the St. Paul Student Center and Coffman Union facilities.

The main contractors are Knutson Construction and Studiohive designers, he said.

Clayton likened the Gopher Spot to a miniature version of Goldy’s Gameroom in Coffman Union. He said there are no plans for renovating Goldy’s Gameroom.

Clayton said he hopes the renovations will increase visibility so more people will use the facility.

He said that before the renovations, people “wouldn’t know it was back there unless (they) heard the crashing of the pins.”

Graduate student Julie Kuruc said she was surprised the Gopher Spot had moved and did not know the renovation was going to happen.

Kuruc, who uses the Gopher Spot for convenience purposes, said the renovation was unnecessary for her purposes.

“If the renovation is to create more open space then that is great, but I didn’t see anything that needed improvement,” Kuruc said.