Tuesday, October 4, 2022

IM Sports-Circle celebrates 100 years

October 24, 2016
On Oct. 14, 2016, IM Sports Circle celebrated its 100th anniversary.  Free cake and guided tours were provided for anyone who visited the building.
On Oct. 14, 2016, IM Sports Circle celebrated its 100th anniversary. Free cake and guided tours were provided for anyone who visited the building. —
Photo by Victor DiRita | and Victor DiRita The State News

The Department of Kinesiology and the Recreational Sports and Fitness Services— both of which are housed in IM Sports-Circle — put on an event to celebrate the the first gym on campus's 100 years at MSU. 

“There’s just so much history (in this building),” assistant director of Recreational Sports and Fitness Services Angela Michael said.

The building was originally built for only men of MSU and was called the men’s gym, until IM Sports-West was built in the 1950s, which turned it into the Women’s IM or women's gym.

MSU alumna Sally Belloli said she remembers when women couldn’t wear their full athletic uniform within the building.

“I remember walking around here when … if you had a dance class in the dance studio and had a leotards on, you had to wear a coat over your leotard,” Belloli said. “But that was 50 years ago.”

Michael said she wanted to give back to the alumni of MSU and IM Sports-Circle and to see how the building has changed.

“There are so many alumni that have amazing memories, and I wanted to give people a chance and an excuse to come back and just reminisce,” Michael said.

Some of these alumni come in during important parts of their lives, such as a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary, Michael said.

For instance, the locker rooms at IM Sports-Circle were easily accessible by anybody, which caused men to sneak into the women’s locker room, something Michael said has been an issue for awhile.

This led to working with police about three years ago to put in a system to protect women in the locker rooms from peeping men, Michael said.

To help prevent this, the only way to gain access to the locker rooms is to go to the Recreational Sports and Fitness website and register an ID.

“It’s not a customer service friendly thing, but it has reduced theft and stopped men from going into the women’s locker room,” Michael said. 

This wasn’t the only challenge when trying to keep the character of the building.

When Michael first started talking to Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, or IPF, at MSU, they had to find different ways to get money to pay for repairs.

“When the economy went bad and how we fund universities changed, it changed everything,” Michael said. “Money that they used to have to do regular things went away, and we’ve had to go through a period of (having) to do the best that you can to keep up on problems.”

Even with these issues, IPF still wanted to help get the building ready for the 100-year anniversary celebration by getting signage for the event and helping clean and paint the gyms, among other things.

“It cost a ton of money to have somebody just get the filth off of the ventilation system,” Michael said. “You could stand in the gym and there was black.”

Another issue with trying to get the building ready for the celebration was with an old building, comes with expensive repairs.

“When you pull apart an old building, it’s never what you think it’s going to be,” Michael said.

The challenge comes with finding a balance between modernizing it and keeping the character that comes with the building, which still has the logo and former name of MSU: the Michigan Agricultural College.

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“There’s a lot of character here that you don’t find in new buildings,” Michael said. “There’s that balance when you're doing updates — What do you want to make pretty (and) what do you want to leave traditional?”

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