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A Cougar's home to get a new name

The PE Center on the UMM campus will be renamed the Cougar Sports Center. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times1 / 2
The PE Center on the University of Minnesota Morris will be getting a new name. The official ceremony is Wednesday, Jan. 30. Photo provided by Kari Adams from UMM.2 / 2

The University of Minnesota Morris hasn't had a physical education major for at least 30 years. Matt Johnson, interim athletic director at UMM, said university officials believed it was time for the building's name of PE Center to be retired.

The PE Center on the UMM campus will be officially renamed the Cougar Sports Center in a planned Jan. 30 ceremony in conjunction with the women's and men's basketball games that night. The deck will be dedicated as the Dacotah Deck.

"The Cougar Sports Center is a large piece of our campus," Johnson said.

The sports center houses the gym, locker rooms, athletic offices and classrooms for classes in sports management and similar programs. It's also connected to the Regional Fitness Center. The RFC's front entrance has been revamped in the past year. While the two entities are compatible, it can be difficult to distinguish the entrance into the gym and Dacotah Deck that overlooks Jim Gremmels Court from the RFC.

Johnson said the plan with the new name is to "Cougarfy" the gym and surrounding area. The renaming planning committee has been using the term "Cougarfy" to describe the addition of photos, signs and other items that will dress up the sports center. Some changes will be completed this month while others will happen in stages in the multi-level building.

The changes will distinguish it as the home of Cougar athletics but also as a central feature of campus, Johnson said.

"Part of the significance of this building is there are so many visitors," Johnson said.

The center is the host site for section basketball. Also, the center is the site of various weekend youth sports tournaments.

"It's exciting," Johnson said of the new name and planned improvements. "We are taking a building that has existed for 50 years that hasn't had any renovation and (upgrading it:)"

While the new name and changes won't be a complete renovation, users and visitors will notice a new, updated look, Johnson said.

The Jan. 30 event starts with a ribbon cutting at 5 p.m. on the Dacotah Deck. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be followed by a naming ceremony between the women's and men's basketball games.

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