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Cover photo by Mariah Wilson. Design photos by Nyhoff Architecture courtesy of the Students' Union

MacHall Ballroom to receive an up-to $2-million makeover

By Ashar Memon, April 5 2018 —

This time next year, the MacHall Ballroom will look almost unrecognizable.

The Students’ Union will begin extensive renovations to the Ballroom between January and April 2019. The Ballroom was first built in 1969 and has not had any major renovations since.

The Students’ Legislative Council approved extrabudgetary expenditure of up to $2 million for the renovations, which vice-president operations and finance Ryan Wallace said will come in the form of a loan.

“We always put money into our spaces to keep them up to date,” Wallace said. “But this would be the most extensive renovation that we’ve done in that space.”

The Ballroom hosts events throughout the year for campus members and the greater public, from student club events to concerts. According to the SU, 169 events were held in the Ballroom in the 201617 academic year.

The renovation plans are to address several problems currently plaguing the facility, such as insulation falling from the ceiling, holes in the floor and a faulty sound system. The plans also include renovating the stairs leading up to the Ballroom to ensure it follows safety standards.

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Wallace added that he thinks the SU is in a good condition to take out a loan.

“The SU has had debt in the past — we’ve had a mortgage on the building in the past as well,” Wallace said. “We’re confident that with the low interest rates right now, this is a good time to do a big project like this.”

Wallace added that plans to renovate the Ballroom were put on hold amid the dispute with the university over ownership of MacHall. Since the dispute was resolved in February, he said the SU felt their role in the building was solidified and they could resume the renovation plans.

According to documents provided by the SU, a Quality Money application was submitted in 2017 to address safety concerns in the Ballroom. The application was denied, as the SU expected a resolution to the MacHall dispute to become a “stronger possibility.”

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Wallace added that the SU expects to work with the university in completing the renovations.

“Hopefully we will be coming to them and asking them for support on this application, which may include financial support,” he said. “The $2 million that was approved by SLC is acting as a catalyst to hopefully have more funding moving forward.”

The SU projects that the renovations will attract more events, as well as allow it to tap into different markets, such as summer weddings, increasing its annual revenue by $327,000.

Wallace added that the January to April timeframe for the renovations was chosen as the Ballroom typically hosts fewer events during that period.

The SU expects to redevelop the entire MacHall building within the next 10 years. Wallace said the Ballroom likely won’t be a part of that redevelopment but will instead be integrated into future plans.

“Students are going to get to see a piece of what their future students’ centre might look like and hopefully we’ll expand as future renovations happen in the building,” he said.

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