The Daily Illini

ARC to hold 10-year anniversary celebration, renovation

By Sidney Madden, Staff Writer

In 1987, Doug Boyer was a student employee at the Intramural Physical Education Building, or IMPE, keeping track of daily student attendance at the gym with tally marks.

Boyer, now assistant director of aquatics, events and facility scheduling at Campus Recreation, has since helped oversee the renovation that transformed IMPE into the ARC 10 years ago. He and Campus Recreation will hold a 10-year celebration at the ARC on Thursday, highlighting both past and upcoming renovations.

IMPE first opened on campus in 1971 as a one-story building with an exterior that resembled the UGL. Students today wouldn’t recognize the building, which once had both indoor and outdoor tennis courts and 21 racquetball courts for the highly popular intramural sports.

In 2001, as the building aged and student recreational needs changed, a student referendum passed with 75 percent approval to renovate both the ARC and CRCE. As a result, Campus Recreation faculty and students surveyed University students and toured various recreational facilities, like those at the University of Texas at Austin and Miami University.

This was the inspiration for the incorporation of the kitchen, climbing wall and auditorium.

Terry Elmore, current associate director of operations at Campus Recreation, was hired in 2007, halfway through the two-year renovation as assistant director of intramural sports.

While most of the facility was under construction, the east wing remained open with a few courts available for intramurals and the other courts filled with workout equipment. Elmore worked out of a closet and described this period as “hectic.”

Elmore’s colleagues were scattered around campus at the Ice Arena and the recently renovated CRCE. During this time, CRCE also saw an influx of students.

On Aug. 21, 2008, the ARC officially opened. The architects intended for the design and layout of the building to invite students in with the winter garden’s natural light and keep them there by placing multipurpose rooms and machines close to the entrance.

The renovation of both facilities were $78 million, and $54 million alone was for the ARC. Paid for by student fees, Elmore said some students never got to utilize the renovated facility but are often impressed when they visit.

“We’ve had a lot of students come back over the years for homecoming and things of that nature and be like, ‘when I went to school here, it was under construction, so I just want to walk around,’ which is cool because their student fees helped pay for the facility so I want them to look around. This is what they did,” he said.

RSOs like the bodybuilding and powerlifting clubs reap the benefits and utilize the facilities at the ARC all the time. Ed Borstein, senior in AHS and former president of the powerlifting club, explained how the organization uses some of the equipment.

“You’ll have six or seven people sharing squat racks or a couple of squat racks, looking to coach each other,” he said.

Current students, faculty and various departments are invited to the 10-year celebration at the ARC on Reading Day, Thursday, Dec. 13 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Ella Bailey, sponsorship and outreach specialist at Campus Recreation, began planning the celebration over the summer. Though the ARC’s ten year celebration was in August, Illini Frenzy was already scheduled for welcome weekend. Bailey decided to use the annual Reading Day wellness-programming as an opportunity for fun too.

“That’s why we wanted this birthday party to fall on Reading Day, because it’s fun and also kind of a gateway to relax for two hours and then you can go back to your stuff,” she said.  

Campus Recreation will host various birthday-related activities in the winter garden: bean bag games, balloon artists, piñatas and relay races. Cupcakes and Jarling’s custard will be served, and an a capella group will perform.

Wellness components will also be incorporated. Representatives from McKinley Health Center and the Counseling Center will come to talk about stress relief, and a free group fitness yoga class will be held 12:15-1 p.m.

The versatility of the event schedule highlights how the space has become more inclusive of different activities Campus Recreation is willing to host and put on in response to student demand, Boyer said.

“The facility really lends itself to us getting out of what we would’ve traditionally planned or programmed as a recreation facility,” he said.

Over winter break, the tracks at both ARC and CRCE will be replaced, the racquetball courts are being renovated and new carpet will be installed in the office suites.

In the future, Elmore sees a need for a facility on the northern end of campus, given that engineering students are among the lowest two groups on campus to go to the ARC or CRCE on a regular basis.

Boyer says Campus Recreation’s future goals will depend largely on the students they serve.

“We are constantly trying to evolve to meet the students’ needs,” he said.  

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