BOZEMAN, Mont. – The sudden collapse of Montana State University’s Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center in March left the university scrambling to find a place for students to learn and work out. Their solution: a pair of shiny, white, temporary domes.

You can call them “the bubbles,” “Michelin men,” or “marshmallows,” but whatever you go with, the domes are a vital part of the university’s plan to rebuilt after the gym roofs collapsed in March under heavy snow.

The university says the two replacement domes will be in place for a few years while plans are made for their permanent replacements.

With 60,000 square feet shared by the two structures, the domes can hold six multipurpose courts.

The North Dome will be home to classes, special events, intramural games, and competitions in its four full-size courts, which are striped for basketball, volleyball, and tennis. It also has restrooms.

Access to South Dome, which has two full-size courts and a wood floor, is available by reservation only.

Now that the domes have been open for two weeks, students have had a comical - but positive - response.

"It's really nice! I wasn't expecting it to be this nice,” said Sean Mulcahay, who uses the North Dome to play basketball with friend Jonah Studer.

Walking inside the North Dome, it can be easy to forget you’re inside a giant bubble on top of an outdoor tennis court.

“Looks like a basketball facility,” said Mulcahay about the interior of the dome.

Other students added that although the domes may look strange, they were impressed with how quickly the university resolved the issues caused by the gym roofs collapsing in the spring.

Student complaints included disappointment about not being able to use the open-air tennis courts that the domes are set on top of, and the five weeks of the 2019-2020 school year before the domes were open this fall when students didn't have a designated gym.

Montana State University doesn’t currently have the cost total for the temporary gyms. A school official says the costs of the domes are wrapped up in the insurance claims over the North and South Gym losses.

The climbing wall in the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center, which was closed during the collapsed gym’s demolition, is open once again in the main fitness center.

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