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Volume 79

Board of Trustees approve $16.5-million student rec center


Published (Volume 79, No. 10)


Credit:

The $16.5 million fitness center proposed in 2005 by SGA gained UT Board of Trustees approval Friday.

A new student recreation center is one step closer to reality after being approved by the UT Board of Trustees Friday.

The Board also approved increased admissions standards and two new campus extension centers in Lauderdale and Decatur counties.

The Board approved a plan to build the 94,600 square foot facility, which will come with a price tag of about $16.5 million.  The facility will be financed by a $103 increase in facility fees per semester.

The fee increase, which will raise student facility fees from $241 to $344 per semester, was approved Thursday by the Board’s Finance and Administration Committee.  The increase will be assessed when the facility becomes operational, which is now scheduled for fall 2009.  SGA approved the increase last November.

Faculty, staff and community members will also pay a fee equal to that paid by students in order to use the facility.

UTM administration originally wanted a facility closer to 80,000 square feet, but the desire for an indoor pool drove the size and cost of the facility up from $12.5 million to $16.5 million.

The project now goes to the State Building Commission, which is expected to approve the plans and select an architect to design the facility when it meets Thursday.

“Everything is in the conceptual stage at this time,” Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Al Hooten said via e-mail.

As a condition for giving its approval last November, SGA will have input during the design phase, which could last up to one year.  Using this timetable, construction could begin as early as the beginning of 2008, Hooten said.

Although no designs have been made, the facility will include an indoor pool, four basketball courts, racquetball courts, and cardio and weight training areas.  The facility will be built around Pacer Pond, although the exact site has yet to be determined.

Once completed, Campus Recreation, intramurals and the student fitness center will be held in the facility.

“It will be for student uses.  There won’t be any (varsity) athletic games in the student recreation center,” SGA President James Orr said.

The facility will also provide more recreational opportunities for students and free up the Elam Center for classes and varsity athletics, Orr said.  Currently, Campus Recreation shares the Elam Center with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Department of Health and Human Performance.

“It will help us out academically, recreationally and athletically,” Orr said.

“A major demand is for student recreation right now,” Hooten said.  “This [facility] will meet that demand.  It will really enhance student recreational activity.”