EMU Ballroom gets an upgrade, but disrupts scheduled events
On March 19, the EMU Ballroom will close for a $2 million renovation. The project, which is supposed to be complete at the start of the fall 2016 term, will expand the venue’s capacity and improve its accessibility.
“[The ballroom renovation] is a blessing for everyone on campus. It’s the largest single space for an event that is not an athletic facility,” UO Director of scheduling and event Services Rick Haught said.
The ballroom was not part of the initial renovation plan of the EMU. According to Haught, the decision to renovate the room was made during late summer last year, after costs of the complete EMU construction were under budget.
That’s put some student groups in a complicated situation when it comes to event planning. Haught says there were six events scheduled during the ballroom’s scheduled closure. Though three of them have been moved to other venues on campus, the changes haven’t come without financial and logistical problems.
Gary Gao, president of the International Student Association, said moving venues tripled the cost of its annual International Night from $2,000 to $6,000 because it has been moved to Mac Court. Unlike the ballroom, Mac Court lacks a stage, sound system and lighting system that would be adequate for the ISA’s event. As a result, the group must pay for additional services to set up the venue for the event.
“We probably have to go to the ASUO [Senate] to get more funds,” Gao said.
Mani Woodward, co-director of the Students of the Indian Subcontinent, said his group booked the venue one year in advance for its annual culture night but had to relocate it. As a result, SIS decided to split the event between the LLC Performance Hall and Straub Hall, where a performance from Hassan Minhaj of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah will be held. But Woodward said holding the event outside the ballroom actually made the event cheaper: the performance hall is free, and he hopes to reimburse the funds the ASUO gave SIS for the event.
EMU Board Chair Miles Sisk said while other venues like the Ford Alumni Center or Mac Court aren’t as efficient for some events, he thinks the temporary closure is better in the long run.
“I believe that it is a very small sacrifice to ensure the ballroom is up-to-date and accessible to all students,” Sisk said.
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