By Caitlyn Crenshaw–
U of L campus is changing and the construction dust will soon be wiped away from the new student recreation center. Since construction began on the 128,000-square foot facility in May 2011, the anticipation for its opening has only grown, and will continue to grow as the facility is expected to transform campus culture.
In a tour of the new recreation center facing fourth street, Dale Ramsay, the director of intramurals and special programs, gave The Louisville Cardinal an inside peak at what the U of L campus will experience when it opens in the fall. Walking into the enormous structure of steel, students will be immediately met with the open space that carries throughout the building.
Ramsay gave The Cardinal a tour of many amenities under construction and expected to open in late October: an indoor soccer field, four racquetball courts, an indoor track, three fitness rooms, a game room, six basketball courts, weight rooms and a café.
The café, named Zesty Bistro, will be managed by Sodexo and provide healthy options for students.
“The idea for a first-class, state-of-the-art-student recreation center began in 2009, by representatives the SGA senate (sic). The students in SGA, who toured facilities around the country of other universities and proposed the plan for the new rec center to the president and Board of Trustees, have created a legacy that will impact the quality of campus life for the next generation of U of L students,” said Ramsay.
The construction, operation, management and equipment of the recreation center, costing $38 million, is made possible through a student recreation fee of $98 to all students. In 2011 the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the student recreation fee that was proposed by the SGA.
Ramsay said of the recreation center, “This is a great example of their voice being heard.” The voice of students was heard, and campus culture will never the same because of it.
The rec center is located within two blocks of six residence halls. Michael Mardis, Dean of Students, said “It will provide a dynamic and vibrant place for students to gather and socialize near their residence halls. We have created a student neighborhood.”
The opportunites for students are expanding with the recreation center. Ramsay said, “It’s going to give our students a place to work out, to connect to campus, to socialize, to engage. This is going to be something for the regular student.”
Sydney Daub, freshman psychology major, said, “I’m excited for it to open so I can use it.”
Ramsay, who has worked at U of L for 33 years, said, “I was here when the student activities center opened. It’s the same thing. The SAC transformed campus life back then, and this is going to do the same thing.”
This transformation of campus life is much anticipated throughout the university. Daub said, “It just shows how the university is improving and growing.”
The hope is that the growth in new facilities will bring growth to other areas of the university. Ramsay said, “We know the sooner we get (students) engaged, the more they’re engaged, the more likely they are to be retained and to graduate. We want to graduate more students and the rec center will help us to do just that.”
The rec center is anticipated to accommodate about 4,000 users a day. Daub said that with the opening of the new student recreation center, she can see campus life changing as “more people will want to stay on campus, instead of going home or off campus.”
With the additional space opened up to student groups and RSOs in the new rec center, Daub said, “I think that it’ll draw more people.”
Ramsay said, “It’s something (students) should be extremely proud of because this was their idea. It should empower students to know that their voice is heard.” And with the call of student voices on campus comes the change of campus culture as it was before the construction and opening of the student recreation center.
Photo courtesy of louisville.edu