Kroc Center opens, impresses thousands

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – After nearly two years of construction and a lot of anticipation, the brand new 36 million dollar Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center opened its doors to the public for the very first time.

“Wow, isn’t this place big?”Hayley Froysland asked her two little nephews as she walked inside the 110-thousand square foot building.

“It’s really cool,” 11-year-old Hannah Phillips said, “Like a hotel.” More than one thousand people went out to check out the new, massive facility, “It’s huge and it’s packed,” Phillips said.

People shuffled from wing to wing, room to room to see it all, “They’re smiling, they’re walking, they’re looking,” Celeste Higginbatham said. “They’re bumping into you but they’re happy because they’re happy.”

Higginbatham brought her family of five to the Kroc Center to see what all the hype was about, “They don’t know which direction to look at,” Higginbatham said. “With everything they have to offer here they want to see everything and walk at the same time.”

With so much to see and so many people inside, Andy Kramer said he was a little overwhelmed, “I was lost until I got some help with a map.”

From full fitness center to the water park in the aquatics center to the rock climbing wall in the gymnasium, Higginbatham said the this has never had a facility like this one ,“I’ve been here since 1988 and I can’t think of… I don’t think the Michiana area has ever had this around.”

South Bend native, Kramer has lived in South Bend for nearly 88 years he said the center is awesome, “I haven’t seen anything like this in the whole country.” But he did have some concerns, “I think it’s too much for the cliental.” Kramer said the cost of a Kroc membership is a little too expensive, “I’m just not sure that most of us can afford paying their rates.”

The center offers two different kinds of memberships, a gold and a silver option. To see a full list of prices, visit their website

“I wanted to be a member, I needed membership information fast,” Higginbatham said she was ready to become a member and so were many others. The line at the membership desk was long and moved at a steady pace all afternoon.

People can sign up at a discounted price until February 5th and the Kroc Center also offers scholars for people who cannot afford to pay the full amount. Click here to find out how to apply.

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