Students to vote on potential REC expansion

Image of REC floor plan with addition space highlighted. Tuesday, April 15, UW-La Crosse students will vote on whether to pay an additional $14 a year in student fees to build a 30,000-square-foot addition to the Recreational Eagle Center.

The $8 million addition is part of UW-L’s campus master plan. A survey distributed early spring semester found that 92 percent of the 1,940 respondents thought the REC was so congested it hindered their ability to workout.

“We always look out and know it’s busy out there, but we had no idea almost everyone coming in here was feeling frustrated with the space at some point,” says Nathan Barnhart, assistant director of UW-L Rec Sports.

The proposed addition is called REC 2.0 because “it’s time for an upgrade,” explains Barnhart. UW-L student enrollment has increased by about 2,000 students since the REC opened in 1997 and the student body has become increasingly active over the years, Barnhart adds. More than 90 percent of UW-L students swipe their card to use the REC at least once each year. Of the survey respondents, about 86 percent visit the REC at least once a week.

Compared to national standards from the National Recreational Intermural Association, the REC doesn’t measure up. The facility’s 8,000 square feet for cardio and strength training is well below the 14,000 recommended for a school the size of UW-L.

Image showing current REC gym space and a future multi-use court.The proposed addition would be on the green space on the southwest corner of the REC, across from Drake Hall. The survey indicated students are most interested in more cardio and strength training equipment and a multipurpose court to be used for club sports as well as other recreation sports such as frisbee, catch, indoor soccer and more.

If UW-L students approve the referendum in favor of a REC addition, the project will be forwarded to the UW System Board of Regents for consideration as part of the 2015-17 capital budget. The project must also be approved by the State Building Commission before UW-L could begin the design process. The goal is to have the new addition completed by the start of fall semester in 2017.

Students will be able to vote for the REC expansion as part of the regular online elections to select Student Association leadership.

The current bond on the REC will be paid off in 2016. Approval of the expansion would allow UW-L to issue a new bond, increasing student fees. Students currently pay $54 per year in student fees for REC use. The addition would bring the total to $68.

What does more space mean for me?

The proposed addition includes about 5,700 more square feet for strength and cardio equipment. This means 96 more people could use the weight and cardio equipment at one time — a 71 percent increase in REC users. That would provide shorter wait times and more flexible workout times.

An indoor, multi-activity court would give sports clubs greater flexibility in scheduling practices. It would also give students a greater variety of activities to do at the REC such as soccer, ultimate frisbee, lacrosse, rugby, etc. Currently basketball, volleyball and badminton are offered in the REC court space.