By James El-Mallakh–
Twelve shovels scraped into the dirt laid out in the parking lot of Billy Minardi Hall. University of Louisville students and administration tossed the dirt over the mound and the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new student recreation center was complete.
“It’s something that our university desperately needs,” said SGA president-elect Justin Brandt when discussing the upcoming recreation center that is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2013. “When you look at the current SAC space and Humana gym, they’re out of date and overpopulated.”
The ceremonial groundbreaking on April 18 between Kurtz and Minardi Halls was attended by many members of the university’s administration. Members of SGA from current, upcoming and past administrations also attended the event and President Ramsey commended student government for their initiative in overseeing the projects approval:
”It was our students and the leadership of student government over a number of years, not just one group of student government leaders but really over a period of over four or five years that said, ‘we’ve got to have this. If we’re going to be a premier institution, we need a premier student rec center.’”
One year ago, the U of L board of trustees approved the construction of the 128,000 square-foot recreation center between Bettie Johnson and Minardi Halls, along with the $98 semester fee on incoming students to help cover the cost. The rest comes from private funding.
The upcoming rec center will offer more space for physical activities than what is available in the SAC. The SRC will include an exercise and weight facility, six basketball courts and an indoor turf field, among other features.
Official construction on the recreation center is set to begin on May 7 or 8.
Some of the concerns raised by students about the new recreation center are the construction and how it will affect parking.
Director of Housing and Residence Life for U of L Shannon Staten said that there will be minor disruptions, “[the construction workers] are not going to be doing loud, loud stuff late at night. It will be more affecting to [students] early in the morning when they’re trying to sleep.”
In regards to parking, Larry Owsley, the vice president of business affairs, said, “We’re working on a lease that would provide 750 spaces to recover the displaced parking on this site, so that’s being finalized and will be in place for the fall term. During the summer months, we’ll have sufficient parking to cover that period of time.”
Many students feel that more space beyond what is offered in the SAC is needed as complaints of overcrowding have become commonplace.
“During certain seasons like the first week we come back after winter break or during intramural sports basketball games, times like that it gets packed,” said freshman communication major and SAC fitness center staff member Cecili Carter.
Abby Jacob, a sophomore psychology major and a supervisor at the intramural office, thinks the new expansion of space in the upcoming recreation center is needed, “The facilities here are great but they’re definitely lacking. We need to expand to accommodate for our students so I think it’s definitely necessary and I’m really excited about it.”
Photo: Shelby Stafford/The Louisville Cardinal