New bleachers in Croy will improve safety

By Alyssa Grevenkamp

Over the years, thousands of people have come to watch sporting events in Croy gymnasium. As seasons kept being played, the gym aesthetically stayed relatively the same — but not this year.

Croy is getting a makeover.

The gym is getting a whole new look for the upcoming 2015-2016 season.

According to Jim Givens, associate athletic director, with this new appearance, Croy will look like a brand new gym.

“We are going to take down the old banners as well as paint the gym. The bleachers are going to be black. For the most part, the entire gym is still going to have bleachers, but on the opposing side from the benches, there are going to be some seats that have chair backs to them. It is going to look like a whole new gym,” said Givens.

Head women’s basketball coach Jim Wiedie has high hopes for what the finished product will look like.

“The gym will have a totally new look to it,” said Wiedie. “I think with everything they are putting in the gym that it will have the ‘wow’ factor. In my opinion, with everything they are doing with it, Croy will be one of the nicest facilities in the GLIAC.”

Having the new bleachers will make the gym more modernized. According to Givens, the last time they did any renovations to the bleachers, they just recovered them and UF’s athletic department has left the bleachers like that for many years.

They didn’t just come up with this plan to rejuvenate the gymnasium overnight, though. It had been in the works for about 5-6 years or even prior to that. After all the scheduling and preparation, the athletic administration’s plan is now being put into action.

“We are looking to begin work on the project the last week of April and work with the whole month of May,” said Givens. “A lot of coordination and working parts had to go into making this project possible in such a short amount of time.”

The time frame is a short one to make all the renovations needed. The reason for having such a short amount of time to work on this project is because there are summer volleyball and basketball camps taking place in Croy in June.

With all these changes being made with the bleachers, some are concerned that there won’t be as much seating as before.

“By pushing the bleachers back a few feet, it will now allow fans to walk behind the benches to get to their seats instead of walking in front of the benches like they did previously. We did lose about 300 seats, though, but the layout that we have now is much safer for fans, coaches and players,” said Givens.

Givens says the way the gym is set up for games right now isn’t the safest and is in need of these renovations. For many years, Croy has never had railings on the bleachers. This has been a major problem for many people getting up and down the bleachers.

With the new bleachers, there will be railings and more room to walk in the aisles. This is another reason for the loss of some seats, but the administration felt safety was more important than how many seats were getting put into the gym.

“We get a large fan base at our games and some of them need railings to help them get up and down the bleachers. For years we have had no railings, which we saw to be a problem. The steps at the bottom of the bleachers were also somewhat of a hazard and we wanted to make sure that we made it a safer environment for our fans to come and watch the games,” said Givens.

According to Wiedie, the new bleachers and renovations will benefit not only the fans, but also the basketball and volleyball programs as well. With the new renovations, the gym will play a key factor in getting recruits to commit to the University.

“I think this will play a huge part in getting recruits to commit. When you don’t have the biggest locker room, like many other schools do, you have to look for other selling points. Obviously, they are going to look at campus and everything else that goes into deciding on a school, but having a nice facility to play is a major selling point for us to use when trying to get recruits to commit,” said Wiedie.

Givens says the gym should be finished by the end of May or by the first week in June at the latest.

“When everything comes together, it’s going to look really sharp. We’re excited about it,” said Givens.



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