The Mystery of the HUB Break Zone
We’ve all seen it, but very few love the game enough to step inside the world of billiards, Ping-Pong, virtual golf, darts, and video games. It’s the hip looking place that makes you question whether part of the HUB is actually a bar (it’s not). However, the room that gives off an aura of fun and excitement turned out to be a pretty tame place: It’s The Break Zone.
As you enter the room, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the price tag. Despite The Break Zone being part of the HUB, you still need to pay to play.
The facilities charge at an hourly rate, with billiard and Ping-Pong costing $5, the golf simulator costing $10, and video games costing $3, though there are happy hour discounts and Frequent Play Card specials. Though if you’re going enough to get a Frequent Play Card, at what point should you just save up to buy your own Ping Pong table?
Regardless, as you walk in, you hand your student id to an employee at the check-in table, and when you leave, you get the card back. It’s a lot like opening a tab at the bar, except instead of alcohol you get fun (presumably). At your checkout, the system charges your LionCash+ account based on how long you have been there.
“Some of the money goes to getting new materials like ping pong balls and video games. Some of the money goes to the upkeep of the pool tables, and some of the money goes to the HUB,” Break Zone employee Eric Ly told me.
Though the price now begins to seem reasonable, I took in the entire room. I would say that it is one of the biggest rooms in the HUB with two Ping-Pong tables, a golf simulator, a video game station, and many pool tables.
However, when I went into the room at 11:15 a.m., there were only five people actually utilizing the space. Granted, 11:15 is prime class time, but Eric estimated that about thirty people per day come in to use the facility, with a little more on the weekends. Despite the low turnout, when people come to play, they tend to stay for a while. Still, when there are more people in line at Chipotle at any given time than people in the Break Zone during the entire day, it may be time to better utilize the pool tables taking up space in our student center.
This begs the question: Why is the Break Zone given such a large space for something that contributes to such a small percentage of students’ pleasure? In a day when we are paying millions to expand the HUB and create more room, perhaps we should also analyze how the rooms already in use are being allocated. Surely there are many organizations yearning for a spot to call their own in the form of coveted HUB office space.
Though there is another side to this argument and it’s that The Break Zone is giving students a place to go on weekends that is safe and enjoyable. Despite having almost all of the necessary equipment to play beer pong, the room remains what could be a scene for the PSU SAFE video.
“It is very rare that we get drunk people in here, and if we do then we call upstairs and they send someone down to get them to leave,” Eric told me.
Only time will tell however, if this alcohol-free haven can withstand the fact that pool, Ping-Pong, virtual golf, and public video gaming appeals to such a small audience. Perhaps in the future this space can be used to satisfy a larger number of students (just spit-balling, but a Chipotle in the HUB would be a real hit).