BSG reopens the Underground as a recreational community space.
By Molly Wilson
The space was filled on its opening night hosting the Superbowl as students watched the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the Philadelphia Eagles. | Photo by Addie Stern.
Students cheer as Kansas City Chiefs’ Linebacker Nick Bolton recovers a fumble in the second quarter to tie the game.
It’s Super Bowl Sunday and the grand reopening of the newly-remodeled Underground, complete with Chick-Fil-A, a Wii and retro-looking, limited-edition arcade machines. The space features furniture from before the renovation as well as new booth seating. The upgrade was completed with new lighting.
Blake Birno remembers the broomball rink always waiting for him and Getsch 2 on winter nights his sophomore year after landing a spring semester Resident Assistant position. They went 16 days in a row and played whoever else happened to be on the campus rink.
Sophomore Natalia Falgetelli often does homework in her Arden Village room with the fluorescent lights off, fairy lights and diffuser on.
Facilities Management’s Mike Lindsey has often thought of the Underground as an underutilized space, but could never figure out a project to use it for.
When Birno became Student Body President, he decided he wanted to make a space like the broomball rink – a place where people could come together and hang out or meet new people – even in warmer weather. Falgetelli knew the vibes and Lindsey had the space.
“It’s kind of late at night, you’re probably up studying or something like that and a friend’s like, ‘Dude, I’m super hungry’ and you’re like, ‘Bro, same,’” Falgetelli said. “Sure, maybe you can make box mac and cheese or something, but you want to go somewhere and get food so we’d go to … Applebee’s for half-apps.”
Birno and Falgetelli are on the same Vespers team and ended up talking about late-night trips to a different restaurant – Flameburger.
Facilities Management Space Manager Sandy Dunleavy ran with the idea and created the initial designs.
Sandy Dunleavy designed renderings with BSG President Blake Birno and sophomore Natalia Falgetelli’s ideas in mind. | Rendering by Sandy Dunleavy.
“Sandy is just absolutely brilliant at what she does. She’s able to take a space, take input for the most abstract description. We literally came in and said, ‘Sandy, we’re looking to create a vibe,’” Birno said. “Like, what do you do with that? Exactly. And she’s able to build this great model of what we talked about.”
Lindsey, Dunleavy and Project Manager Glenn Hofer were the Facilities Management workers who talked to Bethel Student Government leaders as they were making decisions.
“All three of them have a diverse perspective that was crucial to the planning aspect of the entire thing,” Birno said. “Every little change you make has repercussions in different ways. So depending on where you put a couch or a chair, that impacts the nightly [Fac Man] crew… Glenn thinks of those things. Mike thinks about the structure of the entire school and how everything lays out.”
The project was fully funded by BSG. Approximately $60,000 came from the Legacy Fund, which consists of extra money from previous years kept for projects such as the Legacy Patio, Valentine Patio and the Underground. The remaining $20,000 was taken from the Student Senate General Fund. The use of the Legacy Fund was also approved by Student Senate.
The Underground will be open to students during the week unless there is another event scheduled. BSG will be hosting programmed hours with music and food Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to midnight. Students involved with BSG are being asked to volunteer their hours in exchange for a Chick-Fil-A sandwich.
In its first weekend of regularly scheduled programming–and an admitted student overnight–the Underground earned approximately $500.
Friends sat together at round tables as the projector showed Rihanna on the big screen. Two more TVs lined the back pillars to allow better views for those sitting in the booths along the back wall.
Some played a table shuffleboard game. Others tried their hand at Pac-Man and Jurassic Park pinball. Games of ping pong started up again and again in the lower part of the room throughout the night. Students sprawled in red chairs along a wall played MarioKart broadcasted on a mounted TV.
Desserts, wings and a chip and salsa bar were brought in along with root beer floats. When the lights dimmed and Rihanna took the SuperBowl stage, Bethel students belted her hits together in the new space.
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