ESCANABA — A ground breaking ceremony was held Wednesday at Bay College for the $3 million expansion of Bay’s gymnasium.
Phase 1 of the project adds a locker room facility at the east end of the current building for students participating in the athletic programs at the college.
Matt Johnson, director of athletics at Bay, said it will separate them from the activities at the Northern Lights YMCA.
“We were impeding on the YMCA’s locker room space and other facilities and to allow us to move out of that space gives the local community some of that space back,” Johnson said. “For us as an athletic department, it gives our student athletes a place they can call home, a building they can call theirs and it allow our coaches the opportunity to be close to their classroom. The gymnasium is their classroom.”
Many of the athletes attended the the ceremony. Members of the college board and others turned the first shovels of dirt including Elaine Meshigaud, vice chair of the Hannahville Indian Community. The tribe is contributing $4.8 million over 25 years to help pay for the project.
Meshigaud said they are interested in supporting projects that support youth.
I think it’s very important to work with all the people around the area because they help us too in our casino when they come there. So, we like to give back to the community to help support the younger generation,” said Meshigaud.
Johnson said the community has embraced the athletic programs at Bay. The expansion at the college, he said, would not be happening with the support of the community and the donation from the Hannahville Indian Community.
“Hannahville was incredibly gracious with what they donated and allowed to have happen with the expansion. We cannot say thnak you enough,” he said.
Phase two will include a new entrance to the gym. The YMCA is also expected to work on its own renovations and expansion of their facilities.