MSU gyms: pool roof to be repaired next, president announces full future plan

Posted at 2:30 PM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 18:02:00-04

BOZEMAN – Crews are still tearing down MSU’s gym walls.

This week, MSU President Waded Cruzado weighed in on fitness center’s future.

Since the first roof collapses back in February, the east gym buildings have changed a lot.

Mainly, two of them aren’t there anymore.

But, this week, President Cruzado announced that the future is bright.

“Everything we are doing is trying to minimize the delay and maximize the safety,” said Michael Becker, MSU spokesman.

Months after the North and South Gym collapsed under heavy snow, the Upper Gym is almost gone, piece by piece, wall by wall.

“This has been an event basically unprecedented in the history of the university,” Becker said.

For MSU officials, recovery has been one step at a time.

“Right now, crews are using cranes to remove sections of wall paneling, sections of roof one piece at a time, very carefully,” Becker said.

MSU officials like Michael Becker said there’s still at least four to six weeks of demolition work just to be done here but a quick glance inside through the window shows there’s still a lot of work to be done, including the pool’s roof.

“Over the course of months and weeks that followed the collapses, that’s one of the ones we found that needed attention,” Becker said.

Becker said for that reason, the pool may be closed even longer than expected.

“Once that bracing gets in the summer, then we can be sure that everything is going to be okay,” Becker said. “Unfortunately, it means we won’t have a pool for a little while.”

As for other activities, while rooms like the one in Asbjornson Hall have opened for workout space, crews are working on outdoor options.

And they aren’t far.

“These are going to be two bubble structures,” Becker said. “Basically, they are air-inflated structures and they will contain multi-purpose courts.”

President Cruzado said the plan to reopen the fitness center will include student input.

“This summer and fall you can expect to see public design sessions held on campus where you can provide input and ideas for the rebuilding process,” she said.

So as the roof continues to be taken down, Becker said patience will not be unnoticed.

“To exhibit the amount of patience they have while we work through this, we are just immensely grateful for that,” Becker said.

President Cruzado said the fitness center is expected to be open and ready for students by mid-August.

The temporary bubbles will be open in early October.

President Cruzado’s full message below:

Email May 20, 2019, from MSU President Waded Cruzado, regarding Fitness Center:

Dear MSU Community,

With summer upon us, I wanted to take a moment to provide you with information on the temporary gym structures we will be providing at the Marga Hoseaus Fitness Center this fall for the use of our students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as on the reopening of the fitness center.

First, an update on where things sit now. The removal of the east gyms will be complete within the next few weeks. The goal is to preserve for now the ground level portions of the eastern fitness center — those containing the racquetball courts and climbing wall — with the hope of reopening that portion of the building. A timeline for that work has yet to be determined, but we will announce that information as soon as possible.

Over the summer, work on the east wall of the fitness center will continue, converting what was once an interior wall into an exterior wall. This week, we will also begin building two temporary structures to replace the gym space we lost in March. One of these “bubble” structures will be erected atop the existing outdoor tennis courts, which will be converted into multi-purpose courts, and another built nearby to the south. These temporary structures will provide the gym space needed for our educational, athletic and recreational programming for the next few years while permanent structures are designed and built.

Work will also begin on the fitness center’s pool area this summer. As you know, the fitness center building has been closed since March 7. During that time, the building was carefully evaluated, and engineering analysis determined that the roof of the pool — which was built similarly to the roofs of the North and South gyms — must also be repaired. This means that the pool, unfortunately, will not reopen with the rest of the fitness center. Instead, we will add bracing throughout the pool area to secure the roof while we make plans for its reconstruction.

Our purpose since the loss of the gym roofs has been to minimize the disruption to recreational life and education that these facilities provided, while ensuring the safety of our students, faculty, staff and alumni. We plan to reopen the fitness center in mid-August so it will be available when students return for fall semester and to open the temporary structures in early October.

As for the future of the fitness center, this summer and fall you can expect to see public design sessions held on campus where you can provide input and ideas for the rebuilding process, as well as the launch of a website that will provide updates on this multi-year rebuilding process. The fitness center is a heavily used part of our campus and is important to students, faculty, staff and alumni alike. I look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible as we build a bright future together.

Thank you for patience and understanding.


Waded Cruzado

President, Montana State University

Reporting by Cody Boyer for MTN News