Havre Daily News
Fans at the Montana State University-Northern men's basketball game had more than one reason to cheer Saturday night.
The Northern Lights were en route to an 81-64 victory over conference rival Carroll College when university officials accepted a $500,000 donation from Klabzuba Oil & Gas Inc. to build a new wellness center adjacent to the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse.
The halftime announcement drew a roaring standing ovation from the fans.
The cool half million dollars jump- starts Northern's fundraising efforts toward building the $1.2 million Klabzuba Wellness Center, which will add about 8,300 square-feet of elbow room to the school's fitness facilities, tie into a new courtyard to be built this summer, allow for the renovation of existing areas and help Northern add another women's sport.
“(The fieldhouse) was never designed for what we're doing today,” MSU-N Chancellor Alex Capdeville said after the announcement. “This adds a whole dimension to this university that we've never had before.”
The university will spend the next year fundraising for the project, and construction could begin as early as May 2007.
The facility will be available for public use, a fact that was important to Klabzuba, company officials said.
“Havre is a big part of our business,” said Klabzuba vice president Steven Frazier, who is based in Denver. “We wanted a project that would give back to the community and the university. This facility will be used for years to come.”
“We strive to be good neighbors,” Klabzuba operations manager Cole Chandler said. “Havre has been really good to Klabzuba.”
The company also will provide money to ensure that area youth can use it for free.
“We want to make sure it's truly a community facility,” Chandler said.
MSU-N athletic director Dave Gantt said the university is excited about the project, adding that he hopes residents up and down the Hi-Line will utilize it upon completion.
“They're a very generous company,” he said of Klabzuba. “It was a great fit.”
The wellness center will be constructed on the west side of the gymnasium and will provide space for weighlifting equipment, aerobics classes, locker rooms and offices, MSU-N spokesman Jim Potter said.
Equipment will be moved from current facilities to the new center, and the school also will purchase new equipment, Potter said.
The addition will free up space for the school's wrestling program, Capdeville said, and allow the university to undertake an eventual renovation of the fieldhouse.
Potter said plans to add another women's athletic program will get a boost with the construction of the new center. He said the school has not decided what the sport will be, or when it will be added.
The center will tie in with a new courtyard to be built between Cowan Hall and the fieldhouse this summer, Potter said.
“It's beautiful, the drawings we have,” Potter said of the courtyard. “It will be absolutely gorgeous.”
An existing parking lot in that area is not easily accessed by handicapped people, and will be removed, he said. The school plans to build a new parking lot on the north side of the Hagener Science Center.
Potter said the school will continue to seek corporate funding for the center in the coming year.
MSU-N athletics got another boost Friday night, with the Northern Lights Athletic Association donating about $33,000 to the school. The money was raised in the Legends for Lights Pheasant Jamboree, held in October.