The sun is shining (well, sometimes), lives are being packed up into boxes and those decorative orange barrels are dotting campus streets. Yes, spring marks the start of construction season at MSU, and we can expect many changes, besides the the color of the leaves, when we return next fall.
Small renovations are continually made here and there on campus, usually without a second glance from the student body. Major changes, however, will markedly stand out during Welcome Week 2005. Spartan Stadium is receiving new suites and office facilities, and IM West will include an updated fitness center and customer service desk. Most importantly perhaps is that the beloved Sparty statue, currently located at the intersection of Red Cedar Road, Chestnut Road and Kalamazoo Street, will be moved inside, while a new bronze statue will be unveiled in the northern part of Demonstration Field, complete with a new recasting for weather protection. The project’s estimated cost $2.9 million.
Sparty, the tallest free standing statue in the country, is as essential to our campus as coffee is to pulling an all-nighter. According to Karen Wenk, director of development of campus planning and administration, Sparty experiences annual upkeep to make sure his ceramic coating is satisfactory, and this major renovation is his first since the late ‘80s.
“The original sculpture is deteriorating from the freeze and frost cycle of Michigan, and the move of Sparty will increase the safety of that intersection [of Kalamazoo and Chestnut],” Wenk said. “The construction will be done this summer, when there are fewer cars. I think it will be a positive move; Sparty is a very beloved icon, and the new sculpture will look exactly like the original to you and me.”
Sparty’s biggest fans are, by far, the students of MSU. “The intent is that [Sparty] will be visible and be enjoyed,” Wenk said. But the renovations will also coincide with a new intersection where Sparty once stood.
Sparty isn’t the only structure in need of a makeover. IM West is the oldest sports facility on campus and the most in need of a major revamp. Sally Belloli, assistant director of IM sports, believes everyone in the MSU community will enjoy the newly upgraded fitness room, which was aided by funding from ASMSU and stemmed from the requests of students.
“We will open our state-of-the-art fitness facility in mid-May: a 12,000-foot facility that will feature treadmills, elliptical cross trainers, stationary bikes, weight selection machines, personal fitness trainers and a fitness assessment program,” Belloli said. “Students will see a customized service counter for facility services, such as IM sports sign-ups, and a refreshment and lounge zone.”
“The current workout rooms at IM West are too small and crowded,” Katrina Lawrence, kinesiology sophomore, said. Just down the street, construction is still being done on Spartan stadium, but an end is in sight. The entrance to the new suites and club seats are scheduled to be finished for the 2005 football season.
This renovation, officially known as the Spartan Stadium Expansion Project, will also include new space for media, recruiting services and offices for affiliates, such as the MSU Alumni Association. With an already overwhelming capacity of 72,027, the new club seats will add an additional 862 Spartan fans to the deafening crowd of Spartan Stadium, which was originally built in 1957.
Although the Spartan Stadium Expansion Project will have little direct benefit to students, many are still thrilled about the improved exterior of the stadium, both for its visual appeal and the potential to bring in revenue for MSU. English freshman Katherine Kelly is looking forward to the updates of the stadium for both reasons. “I work at Spartan Stadium and have attended home games since I was 10,” Kelly said. “The renovations of the stadium will bring in money and benefit the university.”
But Spartans are torn between being excited for the end result of the campus updates and being frustrated due to the upcoming summer construction. “I am looking most forward to IM West [updates] because it will be nice to have better facilities,” audiology and speech sciences freshman Laura Karasinski said. “I think the university should continue to work hard to update itself to remain a leader in universities.” Lawrence agrees with Karasinski but is not looking forward to dealing with construction by Sparty’s present intersection while living in East Lansing this summer.
Although she supports the reconstruction at IM West, Lawrence said that “closing Kalamazoo [Street], the bridge and the roads near IM circle will be awful for my summer job at IM Circle.”
In addition to holding jobs in updated facilities, many Spartans have had a hand in directly raising money for the movement and restoration of Sparty. According to Wenk, students were the first donors to the Sparty project, fundraising for which began in Fall 2002. “I am very grateful for the student leadership from ASMSU, COGS [Council for Graduate Students] and SAF [Student Alumni Foundation],” Wenk said. “By themselves, these groups raised $109,000 out of the total $500,000, and that is incredibly impressive.”
While the renovations to Spartan Stadium and IM West will make their debut quietly, there is a series of scheduled events for the unveiling of the new Sparty in the fall. “The new sculpture will be up in place before students return at the end of August, with a ceremony of rededication on [October 8],” Wenk said. “It will be a huge day of activities, including a sesquicentennial parade.”
Other future renovations include the updates on Snyder/Phillips hall, scheduled to begin in May 2006. As part of the 20/20 Vision Plan for MSU, the plumbing, electrical systems, cafeteria areas and building structure of this residence hall complex will be updated by 2007. These upgrades will resemble the completed revamps of Mason/Abbot and Shaw Halls.
A new parking ramp behind Morrill Hall, estimated to cost $15.2 million, is scheduled to be completed by 2007. This seven-level structure will have space for an additional 725 cars and will include entrances from Grand River Avenue and West Circle Drive.
At a university of MSU’s size, construction updates are necessary to keep the ivy-covered walls from crumbling. Sometimes, the inconveniences of construction are worth the end result, especially in the case of Sparty, a mainstay in the identity of being an MSU Spartan. Besides, those traffic cones really spruce up the banks of the Red Cedar.

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