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Stage is set for SEC demolition

The decor has been taken out and the building is sitting dormant as it awaits its demise. The Special Events Center’s demolition – which will give way to a new Phyllis P. Marshall Center projected for completion in May 2008 – has not been question of if, but of how and when.

“They’re not going to implode the building or anything exciting like that,” said Joe Synovec, assistant director of the Marshall Center. “They’re just going to basically take it down piece by piece.”

Beck, the firm that has been hired to construct the new Marshall Center, will provide Marshall Center administrators with a concrete timeline of the demolition, which will begin in July, Synovec said.

“They’ve got to do a lot of work prior to the actual taking down of the building,” Synovec said. “A lot of the electrical systems for the Marshall Center go through the SEC. So, before they can take the building down, they’ve got to re-route a lot of the utilities and communication and electrical lines.”

Along with the SEC, the Skyway, which connects the Marshall Center to the SEC and passes over Cedar Circle, will also be deconstructed. Synovec said once the demolition prep begins, fences will go around the SEC/Skyway demolition site and the construction site for the new Marshall Center.

Afterward, “the entranceways into the Marshall Center will be through the south entrances, the food court on the northeast side and the lounge area on the west side,” Synovec said.

While the demolition of the SEC may impede entrance to the Marshall Center, it also presents a problem for student organizations that have relied on the building as a host site for events.

Some of the places that have been discussed as alternate options for those organizations include the Sun Dome, the College of Business and the Alumni Center, Synovec said.

“We’re still exploring,” he said, “but right now we haven’t found anything other than what’s already on campus, and places that are off campus but that have price tags on them. It’s going to be a tough challenge for two years.”

Anticipating this challenge, the Organizational Outreach Committee of the Student Government Senate created Project Get a Room at the end of the spring 2005 semester. Julie Baumann, who was then chairwoman of the OOC and is now the SG director of Student Life and Development, has transferred patronage of Project Get a Room to SG’s executive branch. Project Get a Room is working with those in the Marshall Center administration and committees, such as the Office of Events and Meeting Services.

Baumann said in an e-mail to other SG members that the OEMS “will be creating an excel spreadsheet that will list off-campus facilities that are willing to host student organizations. This sheet will include the prices, catering policies, capacities and shuttle routes.”

The extra planning going into finding alternative venues to the SEC will have a payoff in the end, Baumann said.

“As tough as it may seem, everyone at USF will have to be making sacrifices in order to have one of the best student unions in the country,” Baumann said in the e-mail. “It will be a challenge for everyone, and the best advice to student organizations right now is to start planning events way in advance and to be creative when thinking of a place to hold their event.”

Some students are taking this advice to heart and lobbying for partnerships with venues in the USF area. Joseph Monte, an SG senator and a senior majoring in professional and technical writing, said he aims to “try to create some vision with Busch Gardens, because it is our neighbor and it is a beautiful place.”

Monte is concerned about what alternative venues could be used because he is the philanthropy chair for Beta Theta Pi. Last year, he organized an event called “USF Idol.” 400 guests attended and $900 was raised for the Voices for Children program. He hopes to double the turnout this year, but a venue eludes him.

“A lot of out-of-the-box thinking is going to have to happen with this,” Monte said.