Reviving Beeghly Center — one step at a time

One seat in Beeghly Center is completely missing its bottom half. Photo by Elizabeth Coss / The Jambar

By Elizabeth Coss and John Ostapowicz / The Jambar

While Youngstown State University has been focused on a new student center, the Athletic Department has been externally fundraising to begin renovating Beeghly Center. 

The $1.8 million-phased project begins with replacing seats on the east and west side of the center, which have not been renovated since it was built in 1972. The renovation project is expected to begin May 6. 

Ron Strollo, the executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics, said the department has been dreaming of these upgrades for almost six years. 

“We’ve had a lot of success recently in men’s basketball and women’s basketball, and it felt like this was the right time to go out and fundraise,” Strollo said. “There’s a wide range of things we would love to do to Beeghly Center — a building that’s of that age — but the first thing is that seating project that we’re hoping to move forward with right at the end of spring graduation.”

The Beeghly Center will undergo seating renovations on its east and west sides in May. Photo by Elizabeth Coss / The Jambar

The seating project will cost nearly $2 million. Strollo said Athletics has received around $1 million in cash, and roughly $3 million has been promised to the department in commitments from private donors.  

As part of the renovation, bleachers on the east and west sides will be completely ripped out and replaced with chair-backed seats. The center will also be repainted and electrical work will be redone. 

The upper bowl of the center will still be able to retract into the walls and open courts as needed for extra gym space. The lower bowl’s new seats will have armrests and cup holders. 

The student section and pep band bleachers behind the hoops on the center’s north and south sides will not undergo changes.

In addition to the new features, the center will be more accessible with new guardrails on the stairs and more space added between seats. 

“Some of those seats are cracked — they’re ripping people’s clothes — and safety-wise, it’s really difficult to get around for some of our fans without the handrails and things like that,” Strollo said. “These new seats and the safety pieces are probably the top priority … it’s going to feel a lot less like a high school gym and lot more like an arena.”

In preparation for the project, Tim Stuart, senior associate director of Athletics, said communication between Athletics and student-athletes will be necessary as the project’s end date isn’t set in stone. 

“There are a lot of working parts and different teams, programs and departments that use the Beeghly, so it’s important that everyone is on the same page,” Stuart stated. “The project’s overall timeline for completion is mid-September … we will certainly push to get it done sooner, but we’re at the mercy of material availability and lead times.”

During the summer, construction will prevent any activities or sports from taking place at Beeghly Center. Summer camps for training student-athletes will take place at Stambaugh Stadium instead.

Volleyball, the sport most affected by the renovations, will practice in Stambaugh Stadium gyms and will not host a preseason tournament. 

Strollo said it’s humbling to be at the halfway point and to know the community is invested in Beeghly Center’s future. 

“It’s exciting in the sense that our community is really engaged with our basketball programs and volleyball programs, but more importantly, our university,” Strollo said. “A lot of people’s perception of our campus is seen through that building and it’s just an opportunity with the success we’re having to kind of leave a legacy for the next 30, 40 or 50 years.”

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