The Bubble grand opening – recap
I want to start off by inviting anyone who visited The Bubble yesterday to share their thoughts in the comments on this post. I’d like to hear what other people think of it.
Personally, I think EMU has done a great job at getting the most bang for their buck. EMU Athletic Director Derrick Gragg has stated that a traditionally-constructed facility of the same size would have cost about five times more; the university was considering structures that would have cost $20 million to $40 million before settling on this for a cost of $3.9 million. This building also went up very quickly, taking just a year to go from Regental approval (June 2009) to opening (June 2010).
I’ve also heard rumors that The Bubble may be self-supporting financially from rent to youth leagues and community groups. Mark Monahan, the director of the Convocation Center, also serves as the coordinator for The Bubble. Monahan said, “We looked at when the different groups would have the most need, tried to accommodate them all as best we could”, in settling on a temporary operating schedule of 6 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Rental rates will range from $100 to $400 per hour, depending on time of day, season, and other factors.
Although they aren’t currently connected, I noticed a walkway under construction that will run between the south end of The Bubble and the “Team Building” just north of Rynearson. I couldn’t find out if it will be fully enclosed, but it will definitely be covered; the frame for the roof is already well underway.
Finally, a quick note on yesterday’s grand opening festivities. I arrived late in the day, during the last hour The Bubble was open, and I expected to find the place well-nigh deserted, which has sometimes been my experience at EMU functions. I was pleasantly surprised to find a reasonably good crowd, as well as a number of EMU representatives. They had plenty of information available on football season tickets and the Football 101 Skills Clinic for Women, as well as lots of schwag; I picked up a free copy of the EMU sesquicentennial book, which I very much look forward to reading.
The only concern/complaint I have about the whole thing is that the playing surface itself seemed cheaply made. It seemed to me to be a very cheap artificial turf, it looks and feels “plasticky”, and pieces were already coming out of it by last night. My hope is that what we saw was just a temporary surface for The Bubble, and there’s a higher-quality playing surface already on order somewhere. But with that one exception, I’d say The Bubble looks like a big success for EMU!