Construction at Bowling and Billiards

By Gus Bode

The crashes of falling pins have been replaced with the deafening buzzes and screeches of miter saws at SIUC Student Center Bowling and Billiards.

The noise is a natural side effect of the total renovation occurring at the bowling alley.

The revamped center will feature electronic scoring, brand new pool tables and bowling lanes with black-light-triggered spider web graphics. Seating, carpet and ceilings will also be replaced.

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Bill Null, manager of Bowling and Billiards, said the bowling alley, which has not been renovated since the early 1960s, was long overdue for a face-lift. He said SIUC is the last university in the state to get electronic scoring for its bowling alley.

“I’ve had people come in here that were students in the 70’s and they say ‘This place looks exactly the same,'” Null said. “They’re not going to say that anymore.”

Additionally, Null said the bowling alley would soon have more advanced equipment for disabled bowlers.

The new equipment, known as the IKAN Bowler´┐Ż, gives a wheelchair user more control of the speed, direction and timing of the ball’s release.

Kenneth Jaros, associate director of the Student Center, said the addition of a wheel-chair accessible ramp would also bring the center into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Before renovations, the center did not meet the requirements of the act.

Jaros said the $600,000 renovation project began Dec. 18. April 15 has been set as a tentative date to re-open the bowling alley.

Funding for the renovations comes from the Student Center Operations Fund, which is subsidized primarily by student fees.

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Before construction began, 23 student workers were employed at Bowling and Billiards. Null said 13 of the displaced workers were moved to other areas in the Student Center. The other workers chose not to work until the bowling alley re-opened.

Jaros said jobs were not created for the students, but the Student Center staff was encouraged to hire them when positions came open.

“Everyone is back to work that wants to be at work,” Jaros said.

Megan Howie, a sophomore from Danville studying English, was moved to the Student Center Administrative Office. She said she works more hours than she did at the bowling alley and has been pleased with the temporary move.

“It’s a pretty good deal,” she said.

The work on the bowling alley is one of three construction projects occurring simultaneously at the Student Center.

Jaros said construction is 99 percent complete on a $300,000 project to replace the ceiling and lighting system on much of the second floor.

He said the new lighting system, which uses compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs, should help counter rising utility costs. He expects to save $40 to $50 in electricity on each bulb during its lifetime.

“When you have several hundred bulbs, that’s an awful lot,” Jaros said.

A $2,000,000 project to replace the building’s leaky roof is also under way. Jaros said the construction should be finished by March 31.

[email protected]

536-3311 ext. 259

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