Events Center ground broken Saturday

Victoria Zegler/ Staff Photographer Director of Athletics, Dave Heeke discusses building specifics for the Central Michigan University Events Center on Saturday, September 26, 2009 at the North East corner of Rose Center. "It's a dynamic new building providing everyone with a multitude of events to enhance our campus," Heeke said.

Several people took a good look at Rose Arena on Saturday as the groundbreaking for the CMU Events Center took place.

Because for better or worse, the building soon will get a makeover.

The ceremony for the renovation and beginning of the events center was held outside the current Rose Arena, featuring a number of university and community officials.

Air conditioning, new restrooms, a 7,500 square foot atrium lobby, upgraded sound and lighting, new practice facilities, a standalone wrestling facility and a 6,000-square-foot addition to the Student Activity Center are among the features in the $21 million project.

“The time has come to take the next step in a bold future,” said 1992 CMU graduate and Fox Sports Detroit anchor Mickey York to kick off the event.

Work is set to begin over the next few weeks and is scheduled to be completed by next November. Exterior work will be done first, allowing winter sports teams a venue to play in during the upcoming season, and will be followed up by work on the interior over the summer and into the fall of 2010.

Women’s volleyball will be the only team displaced and play their home games in Finch Fieldhouse next fall, Athletics Director Dave Heeke said.

Interim President Kathy Wilbur stressed the need for strategic building upgrades in a time when a lot of competition is out there for college students.

“This Events Center is going to dramatically transform not only what we look like on this part of campus, but also what we represent to the mid-Michigan area and the surrounding areas,” Wilbur said.

The new facility will help bring big national music and entertainment acts, adding jobs and increased revenue to the area, while competing for MHSAA basketball, volleyball and wrestling championships, said former CMU Trustee John Kulhavi..

Recruiting in mind

With other Mid-American Conference schools, such as the University of Toledo, recently going through a renovation and Bowling Green State University in the stages of one, Heeke said the Events Center is a necessity for athletic recruiting.

“For our basketball, gymnastics and volleyball programs, to compete in a venue that is comparable, and if not better, than most around the country, that’s a huge boost,” he said. “There’s no question that our facility is outdated from an athletics perspective.”

Men’s basketball head coach Ernie Zeigler said the new facility will not only help his recruiting, but the overall student atmosphere.

“It’s going help us immensely, because when you have a state of the art facility and you look around our campus, when we bring perspective student athletes here, they see all of the growth and commitment to excellence,” Zeigler said.

The new CMU Events Center also is expected to make a positive economic effect on Mount Pleasant, something that excites Mount Pleasant Mayor Jim Holton.

“What that’s going to do for business is bring in large attractions, such as entertainment groups, concerts and bigger sporting events. All the hotels fill up, all the restaurants fill up, shopping continues,” he said.