Game Off 

Boise State considers closing Game Center

The number of games bowled has dropped 50 percent from 2011, and Fiscal Year 2014 is projected to see a $30,000 loss in revenue. These figures have prompted the discussion of repurposing the Game Center, located in Boise State University's Student Union Building.

Brent Delong, director of the Student Union, explained the Game Center is going to continue to lose revenue for the SUB and something needs to be done about it.

"In short, we're kind of at a point with the Game Center where we need to make the decision to subsidize the space," Delong said. "The other option is to look at repurposing the space."

The goal is not to entirely rid the SUB of the Game Center, but rather to reintegrate some aspects of the center in different areas of the SUB.

Travis Browndyke, a freshman marketing major, and his roommate Kailyn Duncan, a freshman construction management major, both live on campus. They would not have any other place nearby to play pool--as neither of them are 21 yet and can't get into bars.

"I shoot pool every day," Browndyke said.

Neither Browndyke nor Duncan felt that the center gained much revenue for the SUB.

Still, "I'd be bummed if the Game Center were to be repurposed," Browndyke said.

The center was added in 1967, when the SUB was originally designed.

"When buildings were built in the '60s and '70s, they were built with thin space," Delong said. "Spaces built with very specific purposes."

This means each space is very clearly defined and in a linear format. The difficulty is it doesn't leave room for the spaces to overlap, which isn't very efficient.

Factors such as street parking availability (or lack thereof) and the rise of personal gaming devices have contributed to the decline in usage. Also, in 2012, the kinesiology department stopped offering bowling as a class. Billiards was also going to disappear as a class, but a donor stepped in and paid for a private instructor for the classes to continue.

"A national trend, a lot of game center spaces are coming out; they're expensive to maintain," Delong said. "They take up a lot of space."

If the area were to be repurposed, the main idea currently is to put the Admissions Office in the Game Center's current location. Finding the Admissions Office in the center of campus can be tedious and tiresome for prospective students and their families who are unfamiliar with campus.

"It's great that prospective students and parents are having to come all the way through the building [the SUB], but it's also bad that they are having to go all the way through the building," Delong said. "They don't find it [Admissions] efficiently and often it's a frustrating thing."

With the area comprising about 13,000 square feet, a reconstruction project would take approximately six to nine months.

"The whole project would probably take 18 months from start design to finish," Delong said.

If reconstruction happened, the Bookstore would not be affected, but the Bronco Express mail area might be moved. The goal is to create integrative recreation.

"It's not eliminating recreation, it's just rethinking how we deliver recreation," Delong said.

The bowling alley will probably not be reintegrated, as it is cumbersomely large and the most expensive to maintain.

Job positions would be eliminated, but no one would lose their current jobs, Delong assured. Game Center employees will be reintegrated into other places in the SUB.

Amy McGrath, a senior criminal justice major, doesn't use the Game Center now, but still feels a sentimental value for it.

"I don't think they should get rid of it because I remember as a kid it was fun to go there and visit there," McGrath said.

A version of this article first appeared in the Feb. 24 edition of the Boise State University Arbiter.

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