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Montana State University has started to gather ideas about what should replace two gyms where the roofs collapsed last March under the weight of record snowfall.

Several meetings were held last week for the Wellness Center Project to gather comments from students and staff about what should replace the lost gym space at the Student Fitness Center.

MMW Architects of Missoula and the RDG consulting firm have been hired to work on the project, said Michael Becker, MSU spokesman.

“They want to get preliminary ideas, what people would potentially want to see in the rebuild,” Becker said.

Taylor Blossom, student body president, said he attended some of the meetings and that the project is at a “very preliminary stage.” Blossom is involved because the Fitness Center is a student-funded building.

MSU advertised at least four meetings to discuss what it’s calling the “Wellness Center, Redesigning Health & Happiness on Campus.”

“It’s too soon to say what would actually be there,” Becker said. “We don’t want to shut out any ideas.”

Six basketball-size courts were lost when the North and South gyms and the Upper Gym had to be demolished. Those have been replaced with two large blow-up dome structures, Becker said. The South Dome has two full courts and the North Dome has four.

The domes were purchased by MSU as part of its insurance claim, said Becker, who did not know the cost. The claim is complex and not yet resolved, he said.

The climbing wall has reopened in the Fitness Center, along with handball courts and rooms for boxing and punching bag equipment.

“We’ve moved from the recovery phase into the design and replacement phase,” Becker said.

“We certainly realize how popular these facilities are. They are an important part of campus life and student life,” he said. The Fitness Center is not only important to students’ health, he said, but also to helping to keep students enrolled in school until graduation.

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