To meet a growing need for more space at California Baptist University, university president Dr. Ronald Ellis and the Board of Trustees officially announced on Aug. 31 the construction of an events center.
The $73 million center, which will be behind the Recreation Center by 2017. Its intention is for internal CBU use, as well as to accommodate the growing community surrounding the school. Intended purposes for the center during the academic year will be chapel services, team practice and games.
“It’s going to be transformational,” said Dr. Micah Parker, director of athletics.
With student population now exceeding 8,000, a need for more space for various regular on-campus activities has been realized. Currently, the Van Dyne Gym provides space for chapel services and various team sports practices and games, including basketball, volleyball and wrestling.
“It’s hard to turn people away from events at CBU and because of the size of our gym; we’ve had to do that a lot of times,” Parker said. “It’s not fun to stand out there and say to the community, families, even our own students. It’s really disheartening to tell students who have come over to a game, ‘Sorry, we’re sold out.’”
While volleyball offices and locker rooms will remain in the gym, along with most of the games, some games will be held at the events center. Bigger wrestling invitationals will also be held there. Basketball will be permanently relocated to the new space, with offices, home and visiting locker rooms, a spirit store and a green room to be added.
Parker was clear to point out, however, that this is not just beneficial for athletics. When the new center is built, chapel services will move over, as well as commencement ceremonies. Previously, commencement has been held at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.
“(Citizens Business Bank Arena) is nice, but it’s not on campus,” Parker said. “We want people coming to CBU. We want all those people coming to celebrate on campus.”
Although the big move is still two years away, Parker said he is encouraged that important steps have been made to address the issue.
“It’s nice to know that there’s some light at the end of the tunnel for what we need to do,” he said.
In terms of funding for the center, $67 million is being drawn from the proceeds, and the remaining $6 million is from donations and the general budget.
“The current year budget was developed to include the effects of this project,” said Calvin Sparkman, director of financial services.