Nearing completion, the MARC is a source for excitement

By Josh Springer

As a consolation prize for graduating a couple months before the opening of the Macalester Athletic and Recreation Center, I toured the massive project currently under heavy construction. Perhaps being a member of The Mac Weekly sports staff provided a more substantial justification. Regardless of the reason, I cannot help but feel extremely grateful for having the chance to experience what will become one of our campus’s most dominant and impressive developments.Upon entering the site, I had already created a mental picture of what awaited me. While there still are many details to be completed and added, the site is beginning to represent Macalester’s unique character. I was confidently surprised to see that an orange M had been painted into the rafters hanging from the basketball arena ceiling. Furthermore, the pool was being filled with water as we walked through the immense entrance corridor that connects Shaw Field to Snelling Ave. Upon first impression, this resounding passageway, which links all of the competitive arenas together, is the most impressive feature of the new building.

Moreover, I anticipated the emotions that many will experience from viewing the facility I will never enjoy as a student.

The tour confirmed and intensified the impressions that I have already established. I feel both envy and excitement about the revelation of the MARC. The facility in its later stages of construction is stunning and inspiring. So much so, that I can’t help but wish deeply that I had taken a year off, or had been conceived a year or two later by my parents. The class of 2008 should lament the timing of the MARC’s completion, but in a constructive, commemorating,and reflective way.

With construction plans on schedule and the necessary funds all accounted for, we have less than four months to wait for the grand opening of the new athletic facility. Now, I feel that reflection from the perspective of a graduating senior may shed light on to the transition our campus will soon begin to experience. Our administration has reinvested in the athletic department in a very large way, which will require the student body, and particularly student athletes to recognize what this commitment will mean.

The former athletic facility was undoubtedly in need of reconsideration and renovation. Because Macalester is an institution preoccupied with rivalry comparisons to similarly ranked liberal arts colleges, the MARC as an important campus-wide project was everything but preventable.

During this semester, I have heard many argue over whether the student body would ever have decided to invest so much in athletics here at Macalester. It is a fair question that should be addressed by administrators when making any decision, regardless of which department it concerns.

Is the MARC’s imminent and central position on campus overly excessive? Has the college not spent a ridiculous sum of money on the MARC? Does it even fit the student body that Macalester has decided to invest so heavily into the athletic program?
These are loaded questions, and when forwarded to students with unique perspectives and interests, they will be answered quite differently.

We are a community above all else, and as a result, major developments such as the MARC must be fully inclusive, and more importantly, inviting. The administrators have pushed this shared mentality about the MARC so avidly. It proves hard to ignore their urgings, as much as we may want to at times.

Whether or not one is a committed athlete should not be the deciding factor as to how one views the MARC as a progressive or unbecoming development. Not only will the facility be outfitted with exercise machines for every level of athleticism, there will also be a juice bar to provide an alternative place for students to grab a bite. Broadening our eating and drinking options from Café Mac may be an added benefit everyone can agree on.

Although I may be largely biased as a passionate student athlete, it seems to me that the MARC does meet, and possibly will exceed, any skeptic’s criterion.

As a senior, my qualm was not why build it, but rather, why now? Pristine athletic facilities were hardly the reason I chose Macalester as my destination for an undergraduate college. I never wanted to be without a working facility completely. While this is not entirely the case with an outfitted Immaculate Heart of Mary, situated across from Snelling, my enthusiasm about staying active has certainly dwindled.

Nevertheless, my own frustrations about the sub-par alternatives offered to us during the construction of the MARC were overshadowed by the building’s current state. Touring the site allowed me to see, quite literally, how much thought and effort has been put into this project.

Macalester is undoubtebly changing. But these changes cannot be taken as anything but progressive for our shared institution. Recent and future projects campus wide will continue to share and carve out a newer, more accessible and better equipped Macalester. In the end, the MARC may still be viewed as excessive, but it will not be regarded as insufficient or poorly designed.

After four years of competing for Macalester, wearing blue and orange with pride, and getting emotional at the sound of distant bagpipes, it brings me nothing but delight to have witnessed the MARC so close to completion. Maybe all I needed to overcome the envy and disappointment was a brightly guided visit of what will be a brilliant structure for our college community.