BOULDER, Colo. –
University of Colorado student leaders will conduct a feasibility study this summer to determine whether the Recreation Center on campus should receive a “long overdue” makeover and expansion.
Campus officials say the 213,000-square-foot, student-funded facility â which opened in 1973 and now operates on a $5 million annual budget â is too small and worn down by decades of heavy use.
“This facility has been loved to death,” said Cheryl Kent, the Rec Center’s director. “We’re approaching a million student visits a year. The visitor rate is so high that the place is just wearing out.”
The CU Student Union’s study will determine, first and foremost, how interested the student body is in funding a large-scale renovation and expansion â as well as outline the scope and cost of any potential construction.
Senior Rich Leeds, chairman of the CU Student Union’s Recreation Center Board, said the Boulder campus is one of the most active in the country â and that’s has taken a visible toll on the facility.
“This campus has a very rec-oriented student body,” Leeds said. “It’s one of the most active in the Big 12 and around the country â and the usage shows that.
“If you look at the waiting lists for basketball and other intramural teams, you’ll see that a lot more students want to participate than are able.”
As a matter of size, Kent said the facility currently is one of the smallest in the Big 12, and ranks at the bottom when it comes to the number of basketball courts and field acreage.
“Thirty-thousand students at CU seems like a lot of people relative to its size,” said sophomore Rachel Ertz, a regular at the Rec Center. “It’s usually crowded. You have to pick hours to go when you know its not going to be too crowded.
“Otherwise it can be really hard to find an open locker.”
Sophomore Tommy Turpin â who uses the center three times a week â said it’s not just lockers that can be hard to find during peak hours.
“Sometimes I have to change my whole routine of what I want to do because of lines for weights and machines,” Turpin said. “From 4 to 9 p.m., the place is just completely crowded.”
According to Kent, the center’s director, a 2008 study showed that 40 percent of students indicated that recreational facilities and programs are significantly important to their decision to attend or stay at CU.
“This kind of thing can really tip the scales,” Kent said. “And the quality and condition of our center is inferior to a lot of our competitors.”
While Kent and Leeds counted off a laundry list of dramatic improvements they would like to make â including separating the “open gang showers” in the men’s locker room, transplanting the second-floor ice rink to a more practical location and increasing overall energy efficiency â they said they have no plans to just “move in like bulldozers.”
As a CU Student Union-funded facility, Recreation Center renovations will require an increase in student fees â so gathering student consent is a prerequisite.
At this point, Kent and Leeds said they’re not putting a price tag or square footage on possible renovations or expansion.
“We’re going to involve students as much as possible from the very start,” Leeds said, noting that the student body must vote on any proposed expansion of the Recreation Center.
“We’re going to base everything on what they want and need.”