After being closed for nearly a year for renovations, Grand Rapids Community College’s Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse is set to reopen this week.
The grand reopening is set to take place on Monday, Jan. 14 as the first of many GRCC homecoming week festivities. Vice President for Finance and Administration Lisa Freiburger highlighted what new features students and faculty can expect to see in the fieldhouse.
“We are very excited about the new building,” Freiburger said. “The students can look forward to new classroom spaces with windows in them which we’re very excited about. The spin room will be back in one of the classrooms and out of the Science building, which will be a plus for students.”
In addition to the classrooms, new features will also include new gathering areas for students to study with plenty of benches as well as a brand new concession stand. If you are looking for a good place to work out, the gym has been fully stocked with brand new, state of the art cardio equipment and refinished locker rooms for student use. Best of all, new HVAC has been installed which means the building will be air conditioned.
With so many new features, there is quite a bit to be excited about. For Freiburger, the $8 million project is something she’s proud of and excited to see once it’s officially open.
“Quite honestly, I’m excited about the whole thing,” Freiburger said. “I’ve been with the college for seven years, and that has been on our open to-do list since well before that. So, I am just excited that we’ve had the opportunity to redo the entire building. It was definitely needed and necessary.”
Although there are classrooms, locker rooms and gyms for students, the main purpose of the fieldhouse is to host GRCC athletics. There will be no doubting that when students and visitors walk in. Trophy cases built into the ceiling will greet them as soon as they step inside. Other new features include lifesize photos of current athletes and a legacy mural that showcases GRCC’s past excellence in athletics.
The “legacy stripe” is the one thing that GRCC’s Director of Communications Dave Murray is most excited for visitors to see.
“It’s an opportunity to tell the GRCC story through athletics,” Murray said. “So many people in our community come through that building for so many different things, and we want them to see how proud we are of our athletic history… We’ve had champions for decades coming out of GRCC and going on to great things. So we’re proud to show that off, and this is an opportunity to do that.”
GRCC Athletic Director Bill Firn has been looking forward to the reopening for a while and knows that the new fieldhouse will benefit not just current athletes, but the athletic department in future recruiting ventures.
“The thing I’m most excited about for the fieldhouse renovation is the fact that student athletes now have a place they can call home,” Firn said. “A place where they want to be between class, a place to study, work out, practice, visit athletic training or just relax… I’m also so excited for the opportunities for our coaches to show off our new locker rooms and other amenities to recruits who are considering GRCC as their college destination.”
Despite the festivities being scheduled for Jan. 14, the men’s and women’s basketball teams will actually play their first home game in the new building on Friday, Jan. 11. Both teams will host the Lansing Community College Stars with the women starting at 5:30 p.m. and the men scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.
The Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse rededication ceremony is from 3 p.m to 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 14. Members of the Ford family are expected to be in attendance at the ceremony to help dedicate the building. The reception and program will be held in the Hunsberger Arena and the school asks for visitors to enter on Lyon Street.