IMPE’s makeover has some problems

By Kevin Spitz

Looking over the new plans for the Activities and Recreation Center, the ARC, one marvels at what they see. Thirteen basketball courts, 1/6 mile long track, a climbing wall, a combat room and an auditorium, to name a few of its new features. The ARC is supposed to be the largest facility entirely devoted to campus recreation in the nation.

Any renovation of this magnitude, though, comes with some set backs. Facilities at IMPE have been cut down even more this semester until construction is complete and the building officially becomes the ARC. Where the entire east wing used to service the campus, now exists one basketball court and a smaller equipment area. In a nice gesture, campus recreation was able to open up a small part of the old gym so that three basketball courts remain usable.

At this point, the campus recreation Web site says that it will open during the summer of 2008, but before construction started there was hope that the facility would open this semester. For seniors who have dealt with at least one facility being partially closed almost perpetually during the course of their college careers, it has become a real disappointment.

The continued transformation of IMPE into the ARC this spring has caused even more frustration for seniors and underclassmen alike. When it comes to the very popular spring intramural basketball league, only 80 teams – 70 men’s and 10 women’s – were allowed to participate. In past years, up to 226 teams were able to play.

Because of this huge decrease, sign-ups filled up before 9 a.m. the first day and teams were being turned away from the wait list by 11 a.m.

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“It’s just ridiculous that our team captain got there at 9 a.m. on the first day and was the 78th men’s team to sign up and we don’t get to play,” said Chris Drish, a senior in Applied Health Sciences.

Drish and his friends have been playing intramural basketball every year since they were freshmen. “This is basically what we have to look forward to every spring,” said Drish. “We have made the playoffs all three years since we’ve been here. Our team, the ‘S-men,’ went to the semifinals last year in the top league. As seniors we were looking to build on the semifinal.”

Furthermore, Drish said, “I’m not one that says I don’t want to see a new IMPE. I just don’t feel they’ve tried to accommodate the senior students very well and that goes especially with the basketball league. They should try to accommodate the seniors or at least give a heads up. We would have been there at 6:30 had we have known.”

The cut down in facilities has not only hurt the intramural programs, though.

Club sports have suffered as a result of facility closings as well. Illini women’s water polo, a club sport, can only practice from 10 p.m. to midnight, a time that senior co-captain Megan O’Connell calls “undesirable.”

“Next year they’ll have it real nice,” said O’Connell. “Better pool times, better facility. The biggest problem I’m dealing with right now is that we have no money. We can’t generate money without hosting a tournament, and we can’t host a tournament without a deep enough pool.”

Because of their predicament, the women’s water polo team has had to raise their dues, which O’Connell said makes getting players to come out for the team a lot more challenging.

As someone who works for campus recreation, I know that the staff there does their best to make the situation tolerable for all users. It is just a big disappointment to seniors and underclassmen alike that though the fees that are paid toward campus recreation remain the same, the benefits provided have been severely cut.

Free-throw contest:

This week the Illini shot incredibly well from the free throw line. Against both Ohio State and Northwestern they shot 70 percent or better for a total of 17/24. I am proud to say that this week I was able to keep my $10 as our shooter Anthony Santarelli was unable to sink 8-of-10 to beat the Illini. In fact, he made none. Maybe free throw shooting is harder than it looks, or maybe he’s spent too much time watching our Illini shoot.

The contest continues next week. If you would like to be a part of my “Can you shoot free throws better than the Illini men’s basketball team” extravaganza, please contact me at [email protected].

Kevin Spitz is a senior in Engineering. He can be reached at [email protected] and he congratulates his fellow Knights of St. Patrick.