If anyone needed proof that the new Erie Hall was much needed and is being well received, know this: On the day the building opened in February, a line of students had already formed outside the entrance before 7:00 a.m. Behrend students were up before the sun, standing in Erie’s biting winter weather to be among the first to work up a sweat in the new facility. Since then, an average of 700 people have swiped in daily.
“It has been rewarding to see the impact that Erie Hall has already had on the campus community,” said Kelly Wilson, recreation manager. “There are many students who visit multiple times a day.”
The new Erie Hall is the culmination of eighteen months of construction and more than a decade of planning and preparation. The $28.2 million project was funded in part by Behrend students, who contributed nearly 40 percent of the project cost, with funds from the Student Initiated Fee.
“Erie Hall happened because of our students’ commitment to this project. They saw the need, stepped up and made it happen,” said Dr. Ken Miller, senior director of administration and student affairs.
The 52,700-square-foot building features a three-court gymnasium, fitness and aerobics rooms, and locker rooms, training facilities, and coaches’ offices for the college’s NCAA Division III baseball, softball, tennis, cross-country, track and field, and wrestling teams. Erie Hall also is the new home of the college’s Personal Counseling offices, bringing mental and physical health and wellness programs together under one roof.
Equipment in the facility includes six squat racks, scores of free weights and strength training stations and rows of treadmills, ellipticals, and other cardio and strength machines. One thing you won’t see: bleachers in the gym.
“Erie Hall was built primarily for recreational use by the Behrend student body,” said Wilson, who oversees activities at the new facility.
We talked with Wilson about the new Erie Hall:
Was the lack of spectator seating intentional? Yes. Junker Center will continue to be a home base for our teams and athletic events. But several of the teams—baseball, softball, tennis, cross-country, and track and field—now have locker rooms in Erie Hall, as they play nearby. In addition to a locker room, the wrestling program also has a large practice room on the lower level. That space can be converted into a multipurpose room, if needed.
Why is this sort of facility so important on a college campus? Students need it. College can be stressful, and exercise is proven to help with anxiety and stress management. Personal Counseling plans to offer workshops on those topics, as well as nutrition and healthy-living strategies, in one of the fitness rooms.
Are group classes/activities offered? Yes. Erie Hall gave us the space to greatly expand our intramurals program. We have equipment to play a lot of different sports, including pickleball and badminton. We already offer group spin, step, Pilates, and yoga classes. Because Erie Hall is open to students as well as faculty and staff members, it’s a great place for the entire Behrend community to connect outside of the office or classroom. The building is always buzzing with action, and I’m excited to watch it grow.
Take A Tour!
Take a tour of Erie Hall at Parents, Families, and Alumni Weekend, scheduled for September 29 through October 1. Come get a first-hand look at this first-class facility!
The history of Erie Hall is honored in the lobby of the new building with a Nittany Lion sculpture, created by Erie County metalworking artist Adam Stempka and his father, Raymond. The sculpture—a layered copper lion set on a stainless and solid steel base—is mounted on planks of the original Erie Hall gym floor. The silver Erie Hall letters that are mounted next to the sculpture are also from the original building.