Rice Auditorium to undergo renovations

Morgan Cardenas, Staff Writer

Rice Auditorium is getting a new look inside as renovations to the old pool area began last week. After multiple attempts to fix the pool, a new space is being created and is scheduled to be finished by the next school year.

“Basically, this entails us filling in the pool and putting a new sub-base in and then putting an artificial turf surface over top of that along with a netting system in there,” Mike Powicki, director of athletics, said. “So, the room can be compartmentalized in different ways to be used and divided up.”

In addition to that, the hallway between the natatorium and the athletic training facilities will be opened up in order to create a primary entrance. This way all students have easier access to the new area once it is finished.

“The idea behind it is primarily we are creating an indoor recreational athletic facility to use during the winter months when it’s cold outside,” Powicki said. “Our athletic teams can get in there and practice and do some other things and then our club programs can get in there and do things with it. It can be used for intramurals or for general student use as well.”

Powicki said he hopes the club programs, like intramurals, on campus as well as any student at Wayne State finds a way to enjoy and utilize the new space when finished. To go along with natatorium renovation, the previous batting cages are being turned into office spaces for coaches so that they can have more room.

More renovations are planned after the natatorium work is finished. The stage area in Rice Auditorium will be upgraded after fundraising and the current construction is finished.

“Our plans are to kind of develop and renovate that space and turn it into a nicer area for some functions,” Powicki said. “We’re really just trying to build a room inside of a room and put carpet down and some drywall to make it not look like a stage per say, but more of a club space to freshen up that space.”

Since the stage is being used by athletics and the natatorium was not in use, construction began with the former pool area.
The decision to renovate the stage comes from a recruitment standpoint.

“The stage look is very old and doesn’t look quite right,” Powicki said. “It can impact recruiting and just the overall aesthetic of the facility so that was a big part of as well as the fact that we do actually utilize it.”

Powicki said the football field’s press box became a recruiting tool for student athletes and general students after its renovation so it made sense to create a space like that inside of the auditorium.

Rice Auditorium renovations are expected to reach completion by the next school year.