Tiger Inn completes renovations
The expansions will allow the club to increase its membership to a total of 200 students if it so desires. However, Tiger Inn President Jeff Cole ’12 told The Daily Princetonian in a Feb. 25 article that the club never sets specific membership quotas and that the larger space will not change that.
According to the Tiger Inn alumni website, the “21st Century Expansion and Renovation Project” made changes to all four floors of the club, including the basement. The basement was expanded by 1,560 sq. ft. On the first floor, the dining room was expanded by almost 1,000 sq. ft. and now accommodates outdoor dining.
In total, the club is now over 21,000 sq. ft. large, compared to 15,000 sq. ft. before the renovations began. Last year, due to the construction, members only had access to around 7,000 sq. ft.
“That just gives you an idea as to how much more of a playground it is for us,” social chair James Smits ’12 said.
All four floors received new bathrooms, and a new elevator that runs through the whole building was installed. While construction equipment is still strewn about the lobby and front patio, the dining room and taproom are ready for use.
“The Tiger Inn renovation is really an entire overhaul of the club,” Cole said in an email. “The dining room is completely rebuilt, the new taproom is enormous and virtually every other room has been renovated.” The club will have its “grand unveiling” over Homecoming weekend, Smits said.
Initially, the capital campaign had hoped to finance a 9,000 sq. ft. expansion with $4.5 million. By 2007, it had raised slightly more than $1 million. The club increased its goal to $6.6 million, but the club had raised only $3.8 million by the time the recession caused a fundraising decline in 2009.
Alumni donations — the sole source of funds for the renovation — bounced back around the May 2010 groundbreaking date. The alumni website indicates that the club has raised a total of $5.9 million.
“The alumni came up very well for us and really helped us out,” Smits said.
The expanded dining space is one of the most prominent aspects of the new construction. When the clubhouse was built in 1895, it was meant to accommodate only around 30 members. Membership grew over the years, particularly when TI became the last club to start admitting women in 1991. Still, the dining hall had only 72 seats for roughly 150 members.
After the expansion, the number of seats has increased by 60 to 132.
“The Tiger Inn has always had a vibrant meal scene, and the new dining hall provides members with a significantly enhanced space to eat and socialize,” Cole said.
While construction was intended to be complete by this past August, Cole said that inevitable delays set the date back to October. TI kept its doors closed on Thursday and Saturday nights for most of September to ensure that the finishing touches on the downstairs bar area were entirely complete.
The club also decided to stay off tap because the addition of a non-slip floor and a new “kegerator” took longer than expected to complete. TI opened for its first tap night this past Saturday, Sept. 30. To maintain tradition, the club has kept the same bar and wooden ledges around the mirrors.
“While our taproom has always been the most fun, it is also now the largest on Prospect Avenue, giving us plenty of space to host outrageous events,” Cole said. “We wanted our first night on tap to be legendary, so [we] decided to hold off an extra week until everything in the taproom was complete.”
Smits said that everything went smoothly at the club’s first open party of the year and estimated that around 300-400 students attended.
“The first night out is a pressure-tester, and I’d say we passed with flying colors,” Smits said. “As evidenced by Saturday night, it’s going to be a fun year.”
Despite the renovations, Smits said that the feel and atmosphere of the club have not changed.
“The space is different, but it’s still TI,” Smits said. “The members are still going wild, people love coming out here, and there’s always a line out the door.”