SAIT’s student association, SAITSA, will be looking for a new home for their facilities as the Campus Centre is set to close at the end of Sept. 2022.
The Gateway, SAIT’s only bar and event space for students, is set to close, while relocating all other facilities, according to SAITSA President Dawson Andrew Thomas.
“We’re working closely with SAIT to move our administration and our staff and our team outside of Campus Centre,” said Thomas.
The transitional phase is set to take place in August, with the Gateway set to close on June 30, 2022.
In a statement provided by SAIT communications director Chris Gerritsen, it states, “SAIT is currently in the initial phases of the redevelopment of Campus Centre and will go to market for design solutions this summer.”
“The building will be closed on October 1 while these options are finalized. Move-out planning has begun with relocating of Athletics & Recreation and SAITSA administrative spaces starting August 1.”
The Odyssey Café, SAITSA’s coffee shop, has announced their relocation at the end of June 2022, with SAITSA’s Station Market being the new location. They will open in September.
Additionally, the Campus Centre holds the Esports Lounge, Orpheus Theatre, Odyssey Café, Campus Centre Gymnasium, Campus Centre Arena, and the Wellness Centre.
There is also the SAITSA events office, the marketing and communications office, and the SAITSA administrative office, which was the Student Centre prior to COVID-19 closures.
There is no confirmation on where the other facilities within the Campus Centre will go, and no confirmation on final costs.
According to SAITSA records, the Campus Centre opened on Nov. 1980, and then had an official opening on Feb. 26, 1981.
Legacy Venue Set to Close
The Gateway changed its name from the Spartacus Lounge in 2001 and had their “Grand Opening Bash” on Aug. 27, 2001.
Additionally, the Spartacus Lounge was known as “Sparty’s” and was opened in 1981. According to SAITSA’s website, they were open “only on Friday evenings because SAIT Administration worried students would drink instead of going to class.”
A food truck has been confirmed as a new addition to the Gateway.
Some staff are being relocated to the truck; however, the truck will not be able to operate within SAIT grounds.
“This food truck is something that we’ve had in the works for a while now ever since we knew that we were going to have to close,” said Thomas.
“We’re hoping to work with SAIT in the future to be able to have this food truck on campus.”
This food truck will remain part of the Gateway’s branding, along with the events that SAITSA will host.
“The name is still going through its final tweaks as far as brand standards go,” said Husson Zaman, marketing and communications manager for SAITSA.
“But [the Gateway] will maintain its brand identity.”
Gateway events to go elsewhere
The Gateway has hosted many artists and events for SAIT students, including the likes of the Arkells, Mother Mother, Simple Plan, Yellowcard, and Protest the Hero.
And for some of these artists, they have been lining up to play at the Gateway because of the great atmosphere, according to Hamzah Habib, security personnel for the Gateway.
“There’s rosters of musicians – artists that do want to come back here to play,” said Habib.
“Our event staff are talented and efficient in dealing with events and when events happen. Gateway staff are super-efficient compared to other places. Superbly professional.”
Outside of catering and hosting events, there won’t be many opportunities for Gateway staff once the Campus Centre closes.
However, SAITSA will be working with other venues in Calgary to ensure SAIT students have events, according to Thomas.
“Our teams are working really hard at SAITSA, and they’ve already begun branching out externally to have events off-campus,” said Thomas.
Furthermore, there isn’t a guarantee for the weekly events that SAITSA hosts at the Gateway, like Dirty Bingo and trivia nights.
“Another thing we have to consider is that whether SAIT’s able to give us a space, and there’s really no guarantee that where we relocate to host these events are going to have the same engagement as they did at the Gateway,” said Thomas.
“If they relocate somewhere, whether it’s Stan Grad or Senator Burns, they might not be in a spot where students know where to go to.”
Athletes In Need of Homes
Athletes with the Trojans Athletic Department will need new facilities to train, including the Alberta College Athletic Conference (ACAC) men’s basketball champions.
There is also no confirmation on where the Trojans facilities within Campus Centre will go, according to the statement provided by SAIT.
“Trojan Athletics have secured alternate spaces to continue their programming this fall, and a temporary facility will be put in place on campus to support recreational activities.”
The Trojans also have teams in other sports, like golf, fastball, futsal, curling, indoor track and field, and cross country.
Badminton is set to become a new sport within the Alberta College Athletic Conference (ACAC), along with eSports being introduced to the Trojans in 2022.
Funds go back and forth
SAITSA had plans to fund a student activity facility in 2007 when then SAITSA President David Jones proposed the new facility.
Furthermore, SAITSA saved up $10 million from SAIT students, with around 70,000 students paying an additional fee to fund the project.
The price tag was projected to be upwards of $35 million, according to SAIT President and CEO David Ross, SAITSA gifted the $10 million to SAIT in hopes SAIT would build the facility.
However, SAIT has given the $10 million back to SAITSA because of the timing and finances, with SAITSA keeping the building fee for students to continue to fund the new space.
“It’s a fee that students had to start paying prior, and it’s a fee that students are going to have to continue paying, even after a little while, just to be able to make that affordable,” said Thomas.
Money collected from the fees, on top of the $10 million, is being held with the purpose of giving it back to SAIT under the condition that the funds are used for a student activity space.
“It was either that or we would lose out on a lot of space, and we wouldn’t really have anything to really offer [students] in the future,” said Thomas when it comes to continuing to have the building fee.
Full-time students pay $287.77 per year in SAITSA fees, with the building fund being $120.00.
SAIT students had the building fee waived in the 2020-2021 academic year to help students during the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns.
“In the grand scheme of things, it’s not always about this moment, it’s about the future and the future students that are going to be there,” said Thomas.
Alejandro Melgar is a second-year graduating student in the online-print journalism stream. He is the editor-in-chief of The Emery Weal and is a contributor. You can find his work on LiveWire Calgary and on his website here.