Lights Out on MAACness: Flooding, asbestos close Alumni Gym


by Amber Cox

Alumni Gym’s water-damaged and warped floor is putting a damper on some regular activities at Rider this fall.

Midnight MAACness, originally scheduled for Oct. 16, is in the process of being “reformatted” for this year. Dean of Students Anthony Campbell stated that the floor in the gym will “not be ready for the original date of MAACness.”

An Aug. 22 downpour caused flooding in other areas as well (see Flooding, below).According to Don Harnum, director of the Athletics Department, about two inches  of water flowed through the lobby and entered the gym.

“It didn’t look like much of a problem the next day, but the wood started buckling toward the lobby end,” Harnum said. “It became apparent that it would be a problem.”

The gym floor was put down 50 years ago. Asbestos was discovered in the sub-flooring of the gym after repairs started. This is not, however, the primary problem, according to Harnum.

“The flooding is the major issue,” he said.
Special procedures are being taken to remove the asbestos, adding a week to the repair work. However, the asbestos was not a surprise.

“The floor company indicated from day one that older flooring was very common to have asbestos in adhesive,” Harnum said. “The flood is what caused the problem. The asbestos was anticipated and they knew it was there.”

Alumni Gym has a tentative completion date of Nov. 7.

“We are on schedule,” Harnum said. “There are no unforeseen problems to date. We hope to get the floor in there before the first [home] exhibition game on Nov. 7.”

However, there is a chance that the game might have to be “rescheduled, postponed or canceled.”

“I am very confident that we are going to play that game here,” Harnum said. “We may have some setbacks on the way, but we are doing our best to manage it.”

Associate Vice President for Planning Debbie Stasolla is also  optimistic about the completion date and said that the asbestos is not causing a large problem.

“From what I understand, the asbestos removal has gone very well and they have not discovered any more,” she said.

MAACness was originally called “Cranberry & White Night” and introduced the campus community to the men’s basketball players and coaching staff.

The first “Cranberry & White Night” was held at the beginning of the 1991-1992 season. The name of the event changed when Rider joined the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) in 1997.

Midnight MAACness also added the women’s basketball team to the event. The date is set for midnight on the first official day of practice allowed by the NCAA.

But “the floor will just not be ready for that,” Stasolla said.

MAACness is going to be redesigned in such a way that the campus will be satisfied, Campbell said. A meeting is set for Monday, Sept. 28, to discuss the best alternative.

“It’s an unfortunate circumstance for this year,” said Karin Torchia, associate director of the Athletic Department. “This is not permanent. Mother Nature did not help us out, so we are looking for the best possible alternative.”

Campbell said he wants to come up with an equally exciting alternative for students.

“We want to make sure it’s still something big,” Campbell said.

Stasolla said they are seeking input from the students to make sure that this event will be satisfying to everyone.

The fall concert will still be held on Oct. 22.

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