ARC prepared to open its doors to students

By Peter Kim

After more than two years of construction, the Activities and Recreation Center, formerly known as IMPE, has completed renovations and is scheduled to open its doors on Thursday morning. It will feature – in addition to new exercise and sports equipment – an auditorium, climbing wall and cafe lounge.

According to the University’s Campus Recreation Web site, the Activities and Recreation Center, which is already being referred to as ARC, houses 12 basketball courts, indoor and outdoor pools, a sun deck, a sauna and 34,000 square feet of weight training and cardiovascular equipment. The facility will also have the first climbing wall on campus.

“120,000 square feet was added to the old (IMPE) building. ARC is a total of 340,000 square feet total. It’s three times the size of CRCE,” said Eric Riha, assistant director of marketing for Campus Recreation.

Many students have been anxiously awaiting the opening of the Activities and Recreation Center for its expanded facilities.

“It’s going to be pretty cool that there’s going to be Olympic-sized swimming pools,” said Tony Szajowski, senior in LAS. “I’m going to try to be the first one there.”

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Others have been waiting for the facility to alleviate congestion in the other recreation facilities on campus.

Xuan Wu, sophomore in Business, said that he has had to wait in long lines for a pick-up game at CRCE.

“I’ll go there mainly for basketball because there will be more courts open,” said Wu.

Riha said that the name was changed to better reflect the purpose of the building. IMPE was an acronym for “Intramural Physical Education.” However, the new facility will be used for many different activities and recreational events not just for intramural physical education.

Riha added that the new facility will serve functions completely unrelated to physical fitness.

One example is the facility’s auditorium that spans two stories and seats 150 people.

“The auditorium could be used for everything and anything. (Registered Student Organizations) could reserve it for meetings. Finals could be held there. We could also do movie nights,” Riha said.

Also, located in the main entrance, is the Winter Garden Area. This part of the facility is a free zone meaning a student ID is not required for admission, Riha said. Here, guests can relax on couches and watch TVs in the soft sitting area or eat at the cafe which serves coffees, smoothies, salads and made-to-order sandwiches.

Although the additions to the building have been grand, the opening of the facility will not be.

“We’re just unlocking the doors,” Riha said. “(The opening day is also) move-in day for the dorms, so it’s going to be difficult for people to get in.”

The Gregory and Peabody Drive residence halls are located directly across from the facility and will close its parking lot to non-residents for move-in day.

Riha did add, however, that the ARC will host the annual Block Party event Saturday.

Held every year mainly as a welcome party for freshman, the Block Party offers different activities, games and free food.

“We have a basketball shootout challenge, carnival games, and a live DJ,” Riha said. “We’ll put a big screen outside by the outdoor pool and be showing the movie ‘Iron Man.'”

Campus Recreation will also be holding free raffles giving students the chance to win prizes including iPods, Nintendo Wii gaming systems and free room and board for a semester.

Although the Block Party will serve as a mock grand opening for the ARC, Riha said that a more formal unveiling of the facility is planned for October. But students like Szajowski and Wu that have long anticipated the completion of this project won’t wait that long to venture inside.