Upgrades or Downgrades
By Alison Bryce
Not all students are excited about the construction for the new University Events Center that is happening at Jowers. For the 350+ members of the Bobcat Marching Band, also known as the BMB, this construction to update and add on to Strahan Coliseum meant that they would have to move to a different field and lose storage for instruments and equipment.
In 2015-2016 season, the university purchased a new director’s podium to help the program be able to visualize how the shows would appear when they perform at half time to people in the stands at football games. However, with the news of the construction, the podium was taken down and unavailable to use for almost three weeks, according to Katherine Telford, a member of the BMB.
“First they had to pour the concrete and then move the podium over piece by piece. It was really inconvenient because we didn’t know how our drill looked during practice. The few practices we got in the stadium became even more important during this time,” said Telford.
Though the field that the university moved the BMB to was just across the street, the problems with the new location outnumbered the positives. The new field had a small parking lot but it was normally full with other students who parked there to get to class. Because of this, members had to walk across Aquarena, another street that was under construction.
“If you used to be late, you used to just be able to run onto the field at Jowers,” said Telford. “But now, you have to run across the street. People would honk at us and slowly start to speed up to make us move quicker.”
The actual field had problems of its own. Members had to get used to having no shade to cool down in during breaks, no restrooms close by and other organizations using the field the same time practice was going on.
“We had to get used to less shade then we had at Jowers,” said Daniel Keller, the mellophone section leader in the BMB. “We used to have some shade from the building and tress but we have almost nothing to block the sun at the new location. It is not fun when the temperature is over 90 degrees and you are in direct sunlight for two and a half hours.”
The band did get a new storage unit out the move though. When they had been located at Jowers Field, the band had remodeled the old apartments, Riverside Apartments (referred to as Five Star by BMB members because of how worn-down the buildings were) next to the field to store their instruments and equipment in. With the move, they had storage facilities built. Though the new units were a lot smaller, they did have slight air conditioning inside.
This move was the third time the BMB has had to relocate in the last 10 years because of university making upgrades for the athletic department. Before Jowers, they had a practice field behind the Baseball Stadium. Although it is not used anymore, their old podium still stands off to the side of the field.
Even after being relocated to a spot that is not ideal and having different construction projects going on while practice is trying to be held, BMB members are trying to make the best of what they have.
“The atmosphere of the practice changed a little at first, because the vets missed their old practice field. But after a few days, even though to some it was still not as good as Jowers, the atmosphere went back to normal with everyone working hard and having fun,” said Keller.
Although the BMB uses a gym in Jowers for practice if the weather is bad, none of the estimated $62,500,000 expansion will benefit them. Instead, the expansion includes adding 1,748 seats to the arena, construction of a new chilled water plant, a new loading dock with access to the lower court level, additional parking, a multi-purpose suite, sports locker rooms and offices.
While the BMB has already completed most of the construction needed for their new area before their season was over in December, the construction on the University Events Center is projected to be completed by September 2018.
Video By: Kiersten Ehr
Photos by: Rebekah Trujillo
Photos by: Paige Schafer