A new gym on the horizon

By JeffGraveline

After months of negotiations, Columbia may have finally filled the void left by the closing of the Herman Crown Center at Roosevelt University in April of 2008.

Last year’s closing left Columbia students without a main gym space. The Crown Center, which was closed due to code violations and asbestos contamination, was shared by Columbia and Roosevelt.

South Loop Elementary, 1212 S. Plymouth Court, has been pegged as the proposed new home of Columbia and Roosevelt intramural athletics. The school was chosen because of its regulation basketball court and its proximity to both schools. The new gym will be available for use as soon as Columbia, Roosevelt and South Loop Elementary sign the final contract.

According to Mark Brticevich, coordinator of Fitness, Athletics and Recreation at Columbia, the use of the South Loop Elementary gym by Columbia and Roosevelt University students has reportedly been agreed upon by the three primary parties: Columbia, Roosevelt and the Chicago Public School system.

“Mark [Brticevich] was able to work out a deal with Chicago Public Schools and with Roosevelt to use the gym at South Loop Elementary,” said Kevin Hartmann, vice president of the Columbia Renegades.

Josh Haskins, former president of the Fitness, Athletics and Recreation Association at Columbia found the location last year, Brticevich told the Chronicle.

Since the Crown Center’s closing, Columbia and Roosevelt have been looking for open space to utilize, Brticevich said. Locations considered for the new space include the University of Illinois at Chicago

and DePaul University.

“DePaul, basically, was too busy; they have too many students already, so they’re not interested,” Brticevich said. “UIC is expensive; they kind of know they’re the only facility around, so they got us.”

Since the Crown Center’s closing, students and faculty at Columbia have been relegated to on-campus fitness centers.

The fitness centers on campus have weight-training equipment, cardio machines and small exercise areas, however, they lack space for club and intramural sports to play and practice, Hartmann said.

That lack of gym space at bothschools and the plummeting temperature outside have forced the schools to look to nearby schools for space, said Michael Cassidy, athletic director at Roosevelt University.

“For now, the key is to find gym space soon because as of right now, we can do programming outside,” Cassidy said. “But as the weather gets colder, we’re going to need indoor options.”

In an April 20, 2008 Chronicle article, Brticevich said that Columbia and Roosevelt would pool their efforts to find a new gym space outside of the current locations the schools used.

“Now we’re sharing fitness space [at the Plymouth Court fitness center], so why don’t we try and find a gym space we can both utilize and partner with?” Cassidy said. “Our kids have the same needs … They want to have fitness opportunities and I think they can do them in the same spaces together.”

The search may finally be ending, as the schools have reportedly come to an agreement with CPS to rent gym space after South Loop Elementary and the post-school programs had ended for the day.

“We’ve sat down with them a few times and basically have come to the agreement that we would have it Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.,” Brticevich said.

The proposed agreement by the three parties would allow usage of the nearby elementary school gym for basketball and other indoor sporting activities.

According to Brticevich, the lease is favorable to CPS, so Columbia and Roosevelt have been working towards an agreement on which school would be responsible for how staffing the facility would be handled.

“That agreement was written up by our law department and was passed on to Roosevelt’s legal department and risk management and that’s where we’re at right now,” Brticevich said.