Son of a bleach…er

Allison Mueller

Seating installation in McCown Gymnasium postponed 

Temporary bleachers were moved into the McCown Gymnasium last week. (Photo by Taylor Nyman)

Temporary bleachers were moved into the McCown Gymnasium last week. (Photo by Taylor Nyman)

Colin Kohrs / Winonan

Winona State University’s McCown Gymnasium construction is complete —well, sort of.

The gymnasium’s renovations have been completed, but according to a press report, “due to circumstances beyond the control of the university,” the new bleachers have been postponed until next semester, affecting both athletics and fall commencement.

“While the bleacher situation is certainly not ideal, fans will still be able to watch all of the regular season basketball games and gymnastics meets on the beautiful new court this season,” Athletic Director Eric Schoh said. “We are happy to see our teams practicing and soon competing in the updated facility. It has been a needed upgrade for some time.”

To compensate, temporary bleachers, along with a section of the previous wooden bleachers, have been set up for the time being, providing approximately 1,100 general admission seats.

Volleyball head coach Joe Getzin appeared to be unfazed by the issue after the Winona State volleyball game at home against St. Cloud State University on Friday.

“I don’t think the bleachers made – one way or another – an impact,” Getzin said. “We had a lot of good fans in here, so I was excited.”

Getzin added how what has been completed in the gymnasium has been beneficial for practices.

The previous wooden bleachers remain standing, along with other temporary bleachers, in the newly renovated McCown Gymnasium to provide seating until the new ones are installed. (Photo by Nikko Aries)

The previous wooden bleachers remain standing, along with other temporary bleachers, in the newly renovated McCown Gymnasium to provide seating until the new ones are installed. (Photo by Nikko Aries)

“From a training standpoint, it’s great for the girls to play on a floor that’s suspended. It takes a lot of wear and tear out of their legs,” Getzin said. “It’s a different venue than what Talbot is, but I think going forward this is going to be a great venue [and] give the fans a great view of the game.”

Junior outside hitter Taylor Goar shared similar feelings.

“It’ll be exciting when everything gets done and the bleachers are in,” Goar said, “It’s just nice that the whole school supports us, and they’re pushing for us to be better and just go from there.”

Attendance for Saturday’s men’s basketball game against the University of Wisconsin-Stout pushed to the maximum for the seating arrangement in McCown Gymnasium at 1,031.

Neither basketball coach was available for comment this week, but Scott Ballard, the women’s basketball coach, wrote in an email that the bleacher delay “will not affect our team in any way, and we look forward to competing on the new floor.”

One concern that has been voiced since the beginning of construction is the state and set-up of the fall commencement ceremony.

The new arrangement of the gym allows for a stronger focus on the court, but has also cut down on the size of the gym and the available seating.

On October 7, the university announced its fall commencement would be split into two ceremonies – as opposed to the long-standing tradition of one in the fall and two in the spring – likely due to the decrease in space.

But now that the bleachers have been postponed, things are even further up in the air.

“I don’t even know where they’ll be now,” senior English writing student Jenna Saunders said. “As a graduating student it’ll be disappointing if I don’t get to walk in the gym… It’s not what I’d pictured.”

Even if commencement is packed into the McCown gym, the placement of the university’s symphonic wind ensemble – hired to provide the processional, recessional and other music for the ceremony – has been brought into question.

Senior education vocal and instrumental student and flute player Elizabeth Sorenson, expressed the band’s concern and confusion over where they will be placed for commencement.

“I’d like the band to be in a position that everyone would be able to see and hear us,” Sorenson said.

Temporary bleachers in the McCown Gymnasium provide approximately 1,100 general admission seats. (Photo by Taylor Nyman)

Temporary bleachers in the McCown Gymnasium provide approximately 1,100 general admission seats. (Photo by Taylor Nyman)

Senior music liberal arts student Kerri Jenna Dornink, who plays trumpet for the ensemble, added that playing at commencement is already a big commitment for students, and with the expansion of two ceremonies in the fall, that obligation has been increased.

“It’s already a hassle for the band members to have to wait around all week to play for commencement when some of us are done with finals long before Friday, and now we have to deal with two ceremonies that we aren’t even getting paid campus minimum wage to be at,” Dornink said.

Members of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble receive a small stipend for the ceremony that has been a symbol of controversy for a while now. The amount falls under minimum wage for the playing time at commencement alone, which does not include time spent during rehearsals or individual practice time.

When the bleachers do come in, they are expected to be a big improvement from the current ones. According to a press release, “The permanent bleachers will feature reserved seating with chair backs and arm rests along the west side.”

-By Colin Kohrs