For MSU Union Operations Supervisor Jeff Gooch, the Union has been a comforting home away from home for the past 32 years.
“My first memory of the Union was trying out for the MSU bowling team,” said Gooch, an MSU alumnus. “I had been on campus just a few days. (I was) not so good the first year, but later it went better.”
Gooch started working for Spartan Lanes in the basement of the Union as a student in 1980, and has worked there ever since, enjoying his time every day because of the events that attract students and community members.
With Gooch and many others in attendance, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon, Sparty and students cut the ribbon to officially commence the Grand Re-Opening Party at the Union, after the $2.4 million renovation it underwent this past summer and fall.
The social event welcomed students, staff, faculty and community members back to the building in what officials considered a mini U-Fest.
“This fall, we weren’t able to do U-Fest because of the construction here in the building,” Interim Director of MSU Union Tami Kuhn said. “We wanted a reason for the students, faculty and staff to come back to the building, and really show off what we have accomplished with the construction project.”
The event, hosted by the University Activites Board, featured plenty of activities to entice students back to the building, including free cake and punch, a scavenger hunt with prize giveaways, henna artists and Spartan Family Feud, a spin-off of the TV show “Family Feud,” featuring Spartan-themed questions.
East Lansing band Blue Effect performed from 4-7 p.m., only taking a break for presentations by Simon, Vice President for Auxiliary Enterprises Vennie Gore and Executive Director of the MSU Alumni Association Scott Westerman.
“Part of all this activity is not simply to spruce up the carpet and to be able to have a space that is better in its aesthetic value, but a place that begins to represent the community of MSU,” Simon said during her speech.
Some of the Union’s changes included redesigning the lounge area, adding new carpet and furniture and building a platform that adds a “visual cascade effect from the upper lounge,” Kuhn said.
A welcome center where students can receive more information about the building also was added, Kuhn said.
The Union includes a new Sparty’s Express, revamped food court and upgraded Biggby Coffee.
“I really like all the new renovations, I think it looks a lot more updated,” no-preference sophomore Dana Zielinski said at the opening event. “My favorite part about the renovations would be the new Sparty’s inside.”
Renovations are planned for the second floor, beginning at the end of the spring semester.
Both the Engagement Center and MSU Multicultural Center will be moved to the second floor of the building.
The next phase of construction will include renovations to both the second floor and ground floor.
On the ground floor, or basement, additional classrooms and office space likely will be added, Kuhn said.
The cost and timetable still is pending with the project, and details will be finalized in the next couple weeks, Kuhn said.
The projected date of completion for all of the Union’s renovations is the beginning of the 2013 fall semester, she said.