Opened: September 3rd, 1990
Cost: $14.9 Million
The complex that is now known as the Student Activity Center was first proposed as a $5.5 million Physical Education building in October 1969. Designed by Daverman Architect and Engineering firm of Grand Rapids, the building's construction contract was awarded to the Christman Company of Lansing in 1971. The building was planned for an area on the south side of Broomfield, continuing the expansion of campus to the south. To facilitate the increased traffic from the construction of the new athletic complex and a number of residence halls on the south side of campus, Broomfield Road was widened to four lanes and a median was added for pedestrians.
Excavation was underway on the project by summer of 1971 but problems delayed the opening of the new building. In January 1972, high winds caused the collapse of several steel columns on the partially constructed building. Later that year, three workers were injured when a steel beam fell over thirty feet to the ground.
The building itself, which opened in the summer of 1973, was an impressive addition to campus. The complex was twice the size of Finch Fieldhouse, which served as the primary location of the school's athletic pursuits prior to this point. It had separate areas for wrestling, handball, dance, gymnastics, and physical conditioning. There was a specially equipped facility for students with disabilities. There was also a 6,000 seat basketball arena that could be converted to classroom space, a six-lane competitive pool and separate diving pool, and a turf room that featured a Tartan turf surface similar to that installed at Spartan Stadium. Outside, the complex also included eight tennis courts and four softball/soccer fields. In January, 1973, it was announced that the athletic complex building would be named the Daniel P. Rose Center and that the academic wing would be named Grace E. Ryan Hall. The Rose Center remained the hub of both intramural and recreational athletic activity throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
However, with the continued growth of the student body and increasing demands from students for an expansion, Trustees approved financing for an expansion to the existing Rose Center in 1987. Dubbed Physical Education and Recreation Phase II, the plans called for a $14.9 million, 179,000 square foot addition to the Rose Center. The addition was designed by TMP Associates of Bloomfield Hills and built by the Christman Corporation of Lansing. The new expansion would feature six racquetball courts, a three-lane jogging track, a twelve-lane bowling alley, six multipurpose gymnasiums, a pool, weight room facilities, and two auxiliary gymnasiums. In 1990, University officials announced a name change for the facility. The entire athletic complex would now be known as the Student Activity Center, while the basketball arena would be known as Rose Arena and academic and office space within the building would continue to be known as Ryan Hall. All of the facilities would be under the supervision of Campus Recreational Services with the exception of the arena, which would remain under the Department of Athletics.
Funding for the operations of the Student Activity Center caused debate on and off campus. The SAC was designed to be funded by student fees, which were automatically added to room and board fees. While on-campus full time students had been paying a fee ($112 annually) since construction began, officials announced in 1990 that a fee would also be added to off-campus students as well. SGA formally and informally protested by offering alternatives and organizing a "$90 Feet Day" in which all students would go shoeless within academic buildings on campus in protest of trustee Rachel Moreno's claim that if students could afford expensive tennis shoes they could afford the new fee. Even with the protests, the fee remained in place.
Doors to the Student Activity Center officially opened on September 3, 1990. Students and faculty were required to show their campus identification card, which contained information about whether that student had paid the annual fee, to enter the facility. The complex was officially dedicated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 4, 1990. CMU President Edward B. Jakubauskas, Chair of the Board of Trustees Margaret Riesker, and SAC Director Tom Jones were among those who spoke in front of a crowd of about one hundred gathered on a converted section of one of the basketball courts.