Sports

Inside Brownson Arena's $1 Million Lobby Upgrade

GRAND JUNCTION, CO. (KREX) -- If you ask a local the directions to Brownson Arena, you'll get an easy answer. 

They haven't changed since 1968. Head down Orchard Avenue, turn south on 12th Street, and look right. It's the biggest building in the epicenter of Colorado Mesa's campus.

Serving as the hub for CMU's athletics program for decades, Brownson annually hosts basketball, volleyball, and wrestling events at both the collegiate and high school level. While the interior of Brownson received numerous facelifts over the years (mostly recently adding a high-def video board in 2012), the lobby has gone relatively unchanged since the Nixon administration.

"[Before the upgrade] it was pretty dull, cavelike in here," CMU alumna Alisha Mendelson says. "Now it's bright, airy...it looks great."

Colorado Mesa shelled out $996,000 to spruce up the exterior passageways around the arena, during a 10 month renovation period that spanned the majority of 2018. Included in the upgrade are five new interactive HD video screens, floor-to-ceiling murals of past and present athletes, and the new Maverick Store, where fans can purchase CMU apparel.

"We've been looking around at different institutions and saw these type of projects getting developed," Colorado Mesa University president Tim Foster said. "They're great reflections of student-athletes. This is a way to keep them engaged. Being a student-athlete at the collegiate level is a tremendous accomplishment."

Mesa's marketing team spent months digitizing the athletic department's archives for the renovation. Fans who head to Brownson can scroll through decades of Maverick history on the interactive displays, recalling RMAC championships dating back to the mid-70's.

"I've run into people who are with their kids, and the dad says, 'look at this, this is who I played with back in the 80's,'" said Connor Larrick, a CMU alumnus who helped fill the interactive video boards. "I've got to talk to people and they're pretty excited about this."

Foster believes the work on the archives will span at least another 10 or 20 years, and hopes CMU alumni will continue to come forward with new photos, videos, or facts that can be added to the interactive displays.

"We had an alum bring us a whole history book...people will find game film in their basements that we'll  continue add to make the experience that much richer."

Colorado Mesa is a decorated Division two program, a fact on full display when you walk through Brownson's halls. The Mavericks most recent NCAA and RMAC trophies are prominently backlit for those curious enough to browse the concourse before or during CMU events. The Maverick History board running 20+ feet alongside one wall allows viewers to relive Mavericks athletic accomplishments dating back to the school's founding in 1925. 

According to CMU officials, The lavish display serves two purposes: primarily, as a celebration of CMU's athletic achievements in the past. But Foster also hopes it'll inspire a future generation of prospective athletes to commit to the Maverick experience.

"This is a reflection of our culture," Foster says. "We really value student-athletes here. I think that gets demonstrated here, and then other students come and say, 'wow, if they're going to do that, it would be really cool to come here, play here, and be a part of what Colorado Mesa is.'"

As former CMU student-athletes fondly remember, the experience as a Maverick is something they'll never forget.

"This is kind of your life as an athlete," Mendelson says. "It's a beautiful way to preserve ths history of CMU athletics."


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