Arizona Daily Wildcat
Gallagher Theater, Sam's Place suffer loss in revenue
Each day when students walk around the University of Arizona campus, they encounter a barrage of closed walkways, expanding fence lines and unearthed dirt. But there is a greater effect that construction has on the UA campus community, and it involves transplanted businesses and dedicated workers.
For two union businesses and a U of A Bookstore worker, campus construction has had unwelcome ramifications.
Sam's Place takes a hit
Since moving to the main floor of the Memorial Student Union last fall, profits at the self-sufficient Sam's Place - a video game arcade complete with pool tables - have been declining, said Mindy Griffith, UA senior coordinator for campus activities.
"(Profits) have been affected," Griffith said. "But to what extent is unknown."
With construction eliminating a parking lot in the rear of the union and an increase in parking garage fees, sales have been negatively impacted, she added.
"We're still pulling in a profit, just not as much as we had been," Griffith said.
Because of space limitations, the move to the main floor has reduced the number of pool tables by half and eliminated all pingpong tables - cutting their bottom line.
To combat the dwindling profits, Sam's Place has done more advertising this year. Twice this semester, the business offered customers two free tokens when they bought four tokens in an effort to drum-up business.
Griffith said she is optimistic that profits will be on the rise soon. In April, Sam's Place is expected to move to the new food services building.
Expanded space and a new atmosphere could reverse the recent decline in the bottom line, she added.
Sam's Place will make one final move to the basement of the new union when it is completed in the Spring of 2002.
The downward spiral continues for Gallagher
Lines of hundreds of students regularly gathered for a midnight movie or sneak preview when Gallagher Theatre was located next to the Administration building.
But since moving to the Social Sciences building last fall, the audiences aren't lining up like they used to.
"By taking it out of the mainstream of where students travel, there is no doubt it had an effect (on revenue)," said Dan Adams, UA director of the Arizona Student Unions.
During the past few years, the University Activities Board film committee has not seen any profit.
Griffith added that many moviegoers still don't know where and when Gallagher movies are playing.
Another downside to the move is that Social Sciences 100 doesn't have a theater feel, Griffith said.
University administrators do not allow students to bring in their own food or drinks, and the items can't be sold out of a lecture hall.
Refreshments were a major portion of the theater's revenue, Griffith added.
But Adams said that before the move, the business was seeing a cut in revenue.
"The bottom line at the Gallagher Theatre has been declining for a couple years," he added.
Officials are optimistic about the future. They understand that while the theater is located in Social Sciences, turning a profit probably is not realistic.
"We aren't going to give it up," Adams said. "We'll go with it one way or another."
Griffith added that once the theater moves to the new union, the students could return.
"It'll be a challenge in the beginning," she said.
Adams said one advantage the theater will have is that it will be in the center of the new union.
Officials are also trying to get approval for a marquee in the new union that would advertise upcoming movies.
Griffith said she envisions the day when students will be eating lunch in the food court and will be able to look across the way to find out what movie is playing that day.
Bookstore employee's vacation plans impacted by construction delay
Rocky Tang has been working in the management information systems department of the U of A Bookstore since June.
As a condition of his employment, Tang was told that he would have to help move the bookstore during the Thanksgiving holiday.
But when the completion date was delayed until December, his employer told Tang that he would need to spend the Christmas break helping move the store to its new location.
"If I did not have to be here, I would be home visiting my family (in Phoenix)," Tang said. "My grandmother is in the hospital right now, so it is kind of heartbreaking to know that I can't spend as much time with her as I would like."
Anticipating having to stay in Tucson for the break, he registered for winter session classes.
Last week, bookstore officials pushed off the opening of the new bookstore until March, and Tang said he fears that in addition to his stays for Thanksgiving and Christmas break, he will also have to be in Tucson for spring break.
"It is more of a great inconvenience that the construction workers are causing," Tang said. "They promised Thanksgiving, then December 18 and now it is spring break.
"Many departments, such as textbooks, were all packed up and ready to go, but now they are unpacking and reshelving books."
But Tang said quitting is not an option he is entertaining.
"I haven't been tempted to quit because this job is my only source of income right now as a student," he said. "It pays for my food and other luxuries, so quitting would have to be a result of a big problem or something."
Tang said that even though he is unhappy with the situation, he enjoys his job at the bookstore.
"Working for the bookstore has had its positives and negatives, but never before did I expect to need to shift all other plans so that I would have to stay for every single holiday," he added. "It is a problem that will affect many employees, but there is nothing that can be done about it now."
Blake Smith can be reached at email@example.com.