PAC desperately needs upgrade

Jessie Hellmann

The Physical Activities Center needs a sponsor, badly. One step into the arena (if it can be called that), and you’ll see a high school gym remnant of the 1990s. A yellow lighting coats the room, which doesn’t do it any favors and the student section is composed of the collapsible bleachers one would find in an elementary school gym.

I’ve actually been in high school gyms more impressive than the Physical Activities Center (PAC) , including my alma mater’s, Kokomo High School.

The USI Ceramics Center just received a generous donation of $1 million through USI’s campaign: Elevating Excellence, from Lenny Dowhie, a long-time USI ceramics professor, and his wife, that will provide ongoing support to the ceramics program.

The arts are often neglected and the donation will do wonders for the program. But it does beg the question: where are the donations to improve the PAC?

Our programs are strong contenders in NCAA Division II athletics. Last season, our men’s basketball team made its third straight appearance in the NCAA tournament, and Coach Rodney Watson just scored his 100th win. This season, our men have fortified a promising 19-4 record and have a good chance at playing in the GLVC tournament in this very city at the Ford Center.

However, one wouldn’t guess any of this by stepping foot into the PAC.

It’s time for the PAC to look like our teams do: strong and collegiate.

While the capital campaign vaguely promises to improve athletic facilities, that’s all it says. I can’t believe much of the $50 million goal will be poured into the PAC because let’s face it: there are more important things worth funding like academic programs and scholarships.

Also, while the university has requested money from the state to renovate different areas of the PAC, none of it can be used to improve the actual athletic facility itself because state funds can’t be used for athletic budgets of spectators areas.

One could argue enough student interest hasn’t been show in USI basketball to make renovations worth it, but my counterargument would be maybe students would attend more games if the PAC was something they could be proud of.

So here’s a call to the elderly people I see packing the seats at the PAC every Saturday. Look. We know you have money. Be a proud alumni. Donate!

Or maybe businesses in town could sponsor renovations, and we’ll slap your name on the building. Old National: I see you sponsoring everything in this town (cough -Old National Events Plaza  – cough.) How does the Old National Center sound to you? Pretty nice, yeah? Let’s make this happen.

But, if we can’t find the money anywhere to renovate the dusty arena known as the PAC, let’s at least change the name, because nothing is less intimidating than “The Physical Activities Center”.  Honestly, it makes me think of a bunch of toddlers rolling around on the ground.