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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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In with the new

 
 

The Texas A&M Department of Recreational Sports announced the final plans Tuesday for a $54 million renovation and expansion to the Student Recreation Center that will be funded without an increase in student Rec Sports fees.
The renovation of 56,000 square feet and the addition of 113,000 square feet to the facility will begin Monday and completion is expected by December 2015. The construction will make the Rec one of the five largest student recreational centers in the nation.
“Some people would say that this facility has been full since the day it was opened,” said Dennis Corrington, executive director of Rec Sports. “Since that time the student body has grown 25 percent. What our goal was when we started this project was to add enough square footage to match that 25 percent and we’re going to be able to do that. Along with being able to do that, we’ll also be doing some major renovation, which was important to us.”
The Rec will undergo three major renovations, beginning with an $8 million update to the natatorium and its equipment.
“Natatorium equipment has a lifespan of between 15-20 years and it’s been 18 years, so it’s time to be replaced,” Corrington said. “We’re spending about $8 million just on replacing and refurbishing the interior of the pool, too – with paint, new tile, et cetera. It’s going to be a lot like a new pool.”
The Aggie swimming and diving teams will be displaced during the renovation and moved to a lone outdoor pool at the Rec from May until September. The team will share the pool with recreational swimmers and classes.
Rick Hall, senior associate director of Rec Sports, said the Rec will also get a complete retrofit of its current lighting fixtures. The third renovation will include a new roof on the facility.
Major changes students will see include the doubling of the size of the weight room and the addition of an outdoor plaza above it.
“We’re expanding it by double and we’ll add about 30,000 gross square feet in that facility,” Corrington said. “We’re adding a personal training suite with evaluation offices and a workout area. We’re also adding a movement area into the weight and fitness room, so it’s going to be able to serve a lot more people.”
The weight room will be moved to the first two basketball courts at the end of the semester to accommodate the construction.
The Department of Rec Sports will meet Wednesday with architects from San Antonio-based design firm Marmon Mok to discuss the construction schedule and phases of the project.
“Our team and the architect team led by Marmon Mok predicted a lot of those things and we’ll work with them,” Hall said. “One of the things we found out is we were prepared to close the weight room down during spring break, but they told us they won’t start doing anything in the weight room until June 1. That was a huge collaboration with them to say, ‘Hey, leave it the way you’ve got it now. Move it all out in May when the students are gone.'”
In addition to the expanded weight room, two basketball courts, four volleyball courts, one soccer gym, an eight-lane indoor pool and new activity rooms will be added onto the facility, as well as a second entrance that will be located just north of Olsen Field.
Corrington said the repayment of prior debt allowed the department to consider a renovation and further allow for no increase in student fees. The other factor that led to renovation plans was the percentage of students using the Rec.
Upon opening in 1995, Corrington said the Rec served 85 percent of the student body. In recent years, he said that number has dropped to 75 percent for a number of reasons, including overpopulation.
“If you try to go into the weight and fitness room between six and midnight you’re going to wait for a machine,” Corrington said. “When the students have a chance to [use the Rec], we’re full. That’s how I interpreted it and that’s the major thing that told me, ‘Let’s do something now.'”
Hall said student surveys and new statistics also led to the consideration for renovation.
“Later on, after we were open and operational, national standards became available that you should have nearly one square foot per person enrolled,” Hall said. “Well you saw how enrollment grew and it suggested we should have a 50,000 square foot weight room and we were at 14,000. There was a lot of different data and surveys that told us at our first opportunity we really needed to expand.”
Corrington said the standard for the 55,000 students at Texas A&M is “about 600,000 gross square feet” for renovation. With the expansion and renovation of the Rec the facility will be 413,000 square feet.

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