New $70 million recreation center scheduled for 2011 opening

Danette Spiers

Arock climbing wall, an indoor track and three basketball courts are planned for the new $70 million recreation center that is in its beginning design phases but on schedule and expected to open in 2011.

“There’s just going to be a huge increase in what’s offered on campus,” said Bryanne Knight, the project coordinator.

The preliminary floor plans are complete for the more than 100,000-square foot building, which will be located on the current G4 parking lot. The University Student Union is working with architects to decide on details such as the layout of its room and electricity.

Space for a multi-activity court with seating, a racquetball court and an office in which intramural teams can hold meetings are a part of the proposal as well.

In the past year, the USU has used surveys in order to see exactly what students want at the new recreation facility.

“We have one survey that went out to the parents in the children’s center about the drop-in babysitting service. We have another survey that’s gone out to some of the clubs and organizations in relation to locker room amenities and what they want to see in that,” said Knight. “As we get into the more specific designs of each of the rooms, we try to put together some kind of survey to get feedback.”

Hal Ellison, Associated Students attorney general, said the initial survey sent out before the project was approved showed there was a high demand from students for a recreation center with basketball courts and space for free-weights and studios.

“There’s a lot of different dance teams at our school that probably encompass hundreds of students, and right now there is just not enough studio space for them within the kinesiology building,” said Ellison.

Students paid an extra $25 tuition fee this semester for the project. The fee will continue to increase during the next few years until the building opens, at which time the fee increase will have reached $130. After the new facility is built the fee will then increase by $3 every year. Students will be able to use the facility once they pay their tuition and fees.

Knight said the fees would not only help maintain the building, but also pay for professional and student staff.

“This building is going to create about 200 new jobs for students on campus,” Knight said.

The project team has not yet decided how much faculty will be charged to use the facility. How to deal with alumni interested in using the facility is another issue for consideration.

“Our hope is that we will be able to provide a discounted rate for alumni who have graduated but paid a fee for helping get this building on campus,” said Knight.

Another focus has been the environment, designing the building in a way that will reduce the amount of energy needed to run a typical facility of its size.

“Instead of having a bunch of lights that are just going to be on all the time, we’re actually going to have a bunch of sky lights that, depending on the time of day, are going to open or close,” said Ellison. “The only time the lights are really going to be on in the gym is at night.”

The ASREC Fitness Centre, which is open to the campus community, will be closed down when the new center opens.

USU Executive Director Debra Hammond said CSUN is the only CSU campus with more than 25,000 students, other than San Francisco, that doesn’t have a recreation center or isn’t in the process of building one.

“It’s going to be a huge benefit to our students in terms of wellness, and health and development, because right now our fitness center is so small that there is a waiting line to get on a treadmill,” Hammond said. “If we had something that was kind of state of the art and was of substantial size, more people would definitely participate.”

Virginia Gamble, a physical therapy graduate student, works out twice a week at the campus gym with a friend.

Gamble said that at a certain times of the day you can’t always do what you want at the gym because of availability. Although Gamble said she would probably not be on campus when the new center is complete, she doesn’t mind paying the fee.

“It will encourage people to work out,” Gamble said. “It promotes healthy living.”

The next step for the project is to complete the design details and figure out if the plans match the budget. Construction is scheduled to start in 2009.

Other additions, such as an outdoor artificial turf field, are not expected to be available for use until 2015.

Further expansion of the facility is a possibility.

“We passed a referendum for enough money for this building and we know that students down the line are going to want more cardio space and more free-weight space,” Ellison said. “We can be smart with the way we design this building, knowing that we can expand later.”