Union Bowling alley recieves facelift

By Lauren Thorbjornsen

At the end of last semester, it took more math skills than bowling talent to manually add up game scores at the outdated recreation area in the basement of the Illini Union. But after a summer of renovations, students will no longer have to take the time to remember how to score a spare.

Now, students can turn to the “Rec Room,” the new and improved version of the former bowling alley and billiards rooms now all rolled into one, with a few added bonuses.

“(The area) is so drastically different from what people know it to be,” said Donna Wargo, manager of the Rec Room. “It is phenomenal what came across over the summer.”

The Rec Room features 10 regular pocket billiard tables, a snack bar, 14 bowling lanes with automatic scoring, lounge furniture, close to 15 arcade games and a snooker and carom billiard table.

Wargo said the Rec Room also offers cosmic bowling – when the lights are dimmed and the lanes are lit with neon lights – every Saturday night and cosmic family bowling the third Sunday of every month from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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There are still openings in bowling and billiards leagues available, said Kris Davis, senior in engineering and president of the Illini Union Board (IUB). Davis said these leagues offer a place for people who take bowling and billiards more seriously as opposed to those who “keep it friendly.”

Davis said IUB is working with the Rec Room staff to bring programming to the facility.

“We are going to incorporate (Rec Room) into our Illinites,” Davis said. “I know Donna Wargo is thinking of creative ideas for theme nights, like a tropical theme or a Halloween night.”

Wargo said themed lockout parties are a major programming idea right now, but the main focus is spreading the word about the new space.

“I have been working with (resident advisers) to encourage them to introduce the Rec Room to new students,” Wargo said.

The Illini Union Late Nighter brought a lot of attention to the space as well, Davis said.

“The Late Nighter brought in a lot of underclassmen who didn’t know the space as it was before,” Davis said. “We are running ads to check out the new Rec Room to get upperclassmen aware of the change.”

The changes left the former billiards room up for grabs and Sportwell, the educational fitness branch of McKinley Health Center, seized the opportunity.

Lisa Burgoon, a coordinator at Sportwell, said the space, which will not open until January, will now hold offices and a fitness facility. The fitness facility will be split into two areas – one for students and another for Illini Union Hotel guests.

The fitness facility for hotel guests will be open 24 hours a day and seven days a week while the student area will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays.

“The fitness facility is not for the student who works out at IMPE,” Burgoon said.

Instead, Sportwell’s facilities are for students who have suffered an athletic injury, have never worked out before or are in a weight loss program or something similar, Burgoon said.

With still more space available, Sportwell is working with the Union to set up a room for student meetings, a commercial space for massages and a McKinley resource center where students can get cold packs, condoms and various other services. Sportwell is also working on a “guided imagery room,” which will help students relax in an environment of music and color, all at the press of a button.