A dividing line between sections 108 and 109 in the concourse of Breslin Center currently serves as an odd portal of time and place. It's the infield gravel in Field of Dreams. It's the DeLorean hitting 88 miles per hour in Back to the Future.
On one side, there's the cold, concrete jungle of yesteryear. Breslin was opened in 1989 and has aged like the Ford Probe. On the other side, a sleek, faux granite floor rolls through a spacious, contemporary concourse with modish signage. The colors -- clean green and white with black definition -- are vivid. The amenities have amenities.
When fans arrive for Michigan State's opening exhibition game of the 2016-17 season on Thursday, this is what they'll find. Breslin is a building caught in time and, for the entirety of the season, will serve as a reminder of where the program was, is and will be.
As it stands, the $50 million renovation is on-schedule and 50 percent complete. Walking through the new concourse, Michigan State deputy athletics director Greg Ianni, with a sigh of relief, said, "Oh yeah. We're in a good place."
Ianni is overseeing the athletic department's involvement in the project. Because Breslin Center is owned and operated by the university, while the basketball building attached to Breslin belongs to the athletic department, the department technically rents Breslin to play games, practice, hold press conferences, etc.
All of this a long way to the short point that the university is paying for the $30 million renovation of Breslin, while the athletic department is responsible for the $20 million construction of the Tom Izzo with Hall of History and the Draymond Green Strength and Conditioning Center.
Exactly half the concourse is done. In an effort primarily to improve functionality, not just aesthetics, the completed portion expands the hallway 15 feet outward. Fans will notice the difference immediately. Bottlenecked halls should flow freely. Where lines from concessions previously created human roadblocks, those queues will now have an extra 15 feet to breathe.
The expansion is also bringing the building up to code. One significant area is in the number of restrooms. Breslin will have more restroom capacity in the renovated space on the north end -- the area currently at completion -- than it previously did in the entire building.
Beyond those functional additions, old concrete slabs are now covered in white overlay, while new wall-wraps and fresh historical displays line the halls. It looks like a new building. The unfinished areas will still be open and operational for games this season, along with all entrances and exits. No work will be done on those areas during the season. When the season is over, that portion will get the same treatment -- replace the floor, install graphics, etc. During the season itself, all work on the project will be concentrated outside the building.
That's where, as Ianni called it, "more impactful" entrances are being constructed, including the Izzo with Hall of History, which will serve as the main entrance to the building. It will feature a 25-foot glass facade and guide fans through the history of MSU basketball as they enter the building. Instead of fixed displays, it will feature LED graphics and videos.
When attendees arrive on Thursday, and for Michigan State's official home opener on Nov. 18 against Mississippi Valley State, that will seem in the far-off future. Areas around Breslin are still roped off for construction. The artists' renderings are still in the imagination.
Ianni said the Breslin renovation is on track to be mostly completed for the 2017-18 season. It's expected to hit its final, polish-the-door-knobs-and-leave due date of June 2018.
Blog adapted from an article written by Brendon F. Quinn for mlive.com
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