UW Athletics expects PAC-ed bleachers

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If you have ever watched a varsity sports event in PAC, then you probably had the pleasure of walking up the PAC bleachers.</p>

The hard, wooden seats. The creaky, uneven platforms. The constant fear that your feet were going to slide in between the gap of the seat and where your feet go. Unless you had a hard-on for that wood, you probably will not miss it.

This and many other factors were more than enough motivation for the athletics department and university administration to put the plans for bleacher renovations into motion.

According to a press release the athletics department published Jan. 8, 2016, a total of $2.4 million was allocated towards this project and to “address directional signage and additional aesthetical elements of the facility.” The university administration committed $1.2 million and the students then matched with $1.2 million of their own “for additional renovation work of a high-volume student recreational area.”

Renovations started in early Dec. 2015 with construction working through the holiday break, which allowed the bleachers to be ready for the Jan. 13 men’s and women’s basketball games against McMaster. The new bleachers accommodate approximately 1,500 people. According to director of athletics and recreation Roly Webster, construction was actually ahead of time, as the original date was set for Jan. 16. 

With these new bleachers, not only do they provide an aesthetically pleasing and comfortable viewing experience, they also come with a new wave of efficiencies to nuances caused by the old bleachers.

Whenever there was a varsity game, Plant Ops would have to pull out the bleachers the night before which would interfere with intramural and open recreation sports for the entire following day. This would happen multiple times in a week during the winter and fall terms because of the heavy varsity schedule.

The new bleachers will allow PAC staff to quickly set them up and put them back at a more efficient pace than the old bleachers, which will open up more time for gym use.

“We’re displacing students from two-thirds of our main court and so there’s less opportunity for our students to engage with us,” said Webster. “So now we have the efficiency that within minutes or seconds we pull these out, we play the game and following the game we can program again. We can have open gym time on a Wednesday night after a double header or program intramural leagues following a varsity game.”

This is the first step of renovations that the athletics department and university administration plan on making towards upgrading the athletic facilities.

The athletics department published a press release Dec. 18, 2015, outlining a proposition for an SLC/PAC expansion project. This project would result in the construction of 110,000 square feet in fitness space and 3,000 square feet of recreation studio space.

Besides this, Webster envisions a plan to upgrade the current PAC facility in a way that would increase transparency in the corridors, which would make PAC safer and easier to navigate through. He also hopes that these renovations will make PAC a more welcoming space.

“We start to transform a facility that was a part of its times. Back then in the ‘60s when they built the facilities, it was very inward focused, not external focused where you’re trying to show the world what actually happens in here and it’s more inviting and more inclusive,” said Webster. 

“It’s always tough to transform a facility that’s 50 years old, but it’s doable.”

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