By Zach Colick
JACOB KONST/Arizona Daily Wildcat
ASUA Sen. Ashley Rose Eden listens to a proposal for an expansion to the Student Recreation Center. Upon its projected completion in 2009, students would be charged an additional fee not yet determined.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 21, 2005
With the help of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, the Student Recreation Center hopes to increase nearly 50 percent in size by 2009, with the elimination of wait times for students being one of the main concerns.
But a student referendum must be passed in order for the Rec Center to start breaking ground on an addition that would cost students an extra $14 in tuition to fund the more than $35 million expansion. The increase would raise the Rec Center's fee from $28 to $42 a year.
The expansion would up the already 80,000-square-foot Rec Center to more than 115,000 square feet, said Juliette Moore, director of the Rec Center.
Moore said she hopes to have the support of ASUA by the end of the month so students will be able to vote on the matter in a special election come October, in order for the Rec Center to double the size of its facility that more than 3,600 students use daily and 700,000 use annually.
Current UA students would not have to worry about the $14 increase to their tuition dollars because student payment for the possibly renovated Rec would apply only to students who are attending the UA when the project is completed, Moore said.
"Our current students would be paying for the future," Moore said. "We need a commitment now for students of the future."
Moore said that if construction is approved, there would not be any closures to the building while the addition is being built and a usage fee would cost students more than a student fee.
Moore said the expansion would happen in two phases, with the first expanding the weight room to 30,000 square feet and a cardio room to 6,000 square feet the second phase would include more basketball courts, among other projects.
ASUA Sen. Erin Hertzog, who is helping to make the proposal happen, said she agrees a student vote is needed since this is an issue that students are excited and concerned about.
Alistair Chapman, ASUA president, said the Rec Center is a major recruitment and retention tool and he is excited for the possible new addition since he is a regular at the Rec Center.
"The way this is being designed and addressed is a real benefit for students," Chapman said.
With the size of the new addition, Moore said Bear Down Gymnasium may become obsolete and the proposed expansion could become the home for a majority of the intramural sports currently held at Bear Down Gym.
In a PowerPoint presentation during the ASUA meeting last night, Moore showed the UA student body Cabinet that between Sept. 1, 1998 to Dec. 1, 1998, 9,479 students used the Rec Center regularly whereas during the same time period last year, 15,714 students used it.
With numbers increasing by more than 6,000 students, Moore said an expansion is needed for the constant influx of students coming to the UA annually.
"This is for our future students of U of A," Moore said. "It's definitely inadequate for 35,000 students."
The Rec Center opened in 1990 but the project had gone through a similar student referendum in 1986 in which students had to pass a resolution to make the highly used campus fitness center a reality.
Some students who frequent the Rec Center said the expansion would be a good investment for future students.
"The Rec Center is always crowded and it seems for the money students are already paying, it would be worthwhile to expand," said Matt Laskin, an anthropology junior. "It's not going to get less busy but it'll accommodate more people."
Even with constant lines to use workout equipment, some students said the proposal is not worth the fee for an expansion if they can not see the results and have to worry about yearly tuition increases.
Tom Deakin, a systems industrial engineering sophomore, said he can be seen everyday in the Rec Center weight room and said that while the lines can shy people away from coming in, most Rec Center attendees can get their workouts accomplished.
He said the expansion would not be worth it because he could not see many more students coming into use the facilities.
"The university is raising fees in a lot of areas," Deakin said. "Forty-two dollars isn't bad, but I don't know how necessary it is. This would probably be more for the alumni and for prestige."