Work to upgrade the University Union Ballroom will cause that popular venue to be closed for about two months. (Sacramento State)

The Ballroom at the University Union is closed through Sunday, March 25, while its antiquated technology, circa 1998, is brought into the 21st century and fire-safety measures are upgraded.

“The goal is to make it both current and adaptable to future needs, to the best of our ability,” says Dean Sorensen, University Union director.

The 14,000-square-foot Ballroom will get new wiring, along with a modern sound system, projectors, screens, and speakers, and an updated fire-alarm system.

The improvements are in addition to the University Union’s $53 million, 71,000-square-foot expansion and renovation, which will be completed this fall. McCarthy Building Companies is the design-build contractor and will complete the fire-safety upgrades as a component of the larger project. The $597,000 audio-visual upgrades will be carried out by Valley Communications.

The University Ballroom, which can accommodate more than 2,000 people for a reception and a little more than 1,500 for a lecture, is Sacramento State’s most popular large venue, hosting an average of 900 events annually. It’s where President Robert S. Nelsen recently delivered his Spring Address to the campus community and Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn, who was #MadeAtSacState, chose to hold his swearing-in ceremony this past August.

The temporary closure begins Monday, Jan. 29.

“There is no such thing on the campus as an equivalent Ballroom replacement or a truly good time for this work,” Sorensen says. “Some events have been rescheduled, and others will be held at different campus facilities, such as the Harper Alumni Center. Some customers will simply downsize their events or head to off-campus facilities.”

On the other hand, BloodSource, which ordinarily holds its Sac State Blood Drive and “Be the Match” Marrow Registry, in the Ballroom instead will bring a mobile donation unit to campus for its event Monday, Feb. 26, Sorensen says.

The University Union opened in 1975 and has been expanded every decade since as Sac State’s student population has grown. The current work, built to LEED Gold standards, includes a three-story addition to the north side of the existing 183,000-square-foot structure.

The expansion will make room for a Peak Adventures store, a new home for the Associated Students Inc. (ASI), Food Pantry, a Starbucks, a study lounge, meeting and conference spaces for student groups and campus organizations, and an outdoor pavilion.

The $53 million project is funded by student fees approved in a campus-wide alternative-consultation process, as well as reserves from Union WELL Inc. and generated revenue. No state funds are used. – Dixie Reid