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September 21, 2023

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Rec Center to add new parking lot, sand volleyball area, multi-purpose soccer field

By the end of this year there will be one less area on campus occupied by construction workers; after over a year of work, the student recreation center’s renovations are nearing its finishing stages.

The $14.8 million project has included numerous modernized updates to the building, which hasn’t seen a major update since its construction in 1979.

A few of the recreation center’s numerous completed updates include a complete overhaul of the building’s entrance, $650,000 in new cardio and weight equipment, replacement of wooden paneling, new furniture and increased air circulation with large scale fans by a company called “Big Ass Fans.”

Originally slated for completion by the beginning of the school year on August 25, the recreation center is still not completely finished. Three of the facility’s features are still being worked on: the parking lot, a back patio sand volleyball area and a multi-purpose soccer field.

The construction and design crew, however, met a secondary goal and made the majority of the center open to students on August 8 with an opening ceremony held on the 24th. University Vice President of Student Affairs and Director of Recreation of Wellness Steve Kampf said that he expects the facility’s “worst case scenario” completion date to be January 1.

Kampf oversees rec center operations and says that he hopes the new renovations will draw people in.

“The two main things we keep saying is ‘recruitment and retention,’” Kampf said. “One of the goals with this whole project was to provide admissions something they can showcase to potential students.”

The old facility was taken off the campus tour five years ago and with its overhauled design, it is now one of the main stops. Although actual recruitment and retention numbers will be unclear for the next year, Kampf is happy with the influx of current student participation from an average weekday attendance of 1800 students before renovations to 2600 after the completed renovations.

“More people are participating, more people are getting involved in healthy activities,” Kampf said. “That’s the key, it’s giving students another outlet on campus to go to when they’re outside of the classroom.”

Kampf said the students’ response to the updated building has been very positive due to its five-year design process.

“It wasn’t just somebody’s bright idea,” Kampf said. “It’s a whole process you have to go through.”

The process included collaboration between architectural firms, construction companies and the Recreation and Wellness Department. Student suggestions were considered throughout the process, which contribute to the renovations’ positive response. Senior economics major Andrew Bohland said the renovations bring a huge improvement to the rec center.

“I think it’s a much more inviting place now. It’s more open and there seem to be more people spread out,” Bohland said. “Before it was kind of concentrated and areas of the gym were cut off, almost.”

Fourth year marine biology major Selina Clubbs also welcomes the new changes to the building and hopes it will give students incentive to be active more often.

“I think everybody wants to go to someplace new,” Clubbs said. “It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, it just got renovated, let’s go there,’ so that’s a really cool thing.”

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