There are two possible directions in plans for the future of Recreational Sports’ campus facilities: either take the plunge to construct new buildings or invest money into large-scale maintenance projects.
Rec Sports Director John Horn presented the master plan for the University of Wisconsin’s recreational facilities at the Associated Students of Madison’s Student Council meeting Wednesday. He said this spring, students will decide whether or not the university should invest in maintaining old recreational facilities or invest in building new ones.
“We have to do one or the other,” Horn said. “We’re not in a situation where we can wait any longer. We need to invest dollars into this.”
The master plan contains several options, some that include completely leveling current facilities and starting from the ground up and some that simply build up and around current facilities.
The current master plan is tentative and the design is not set, Horn said.
An option for the Natatorium is to renovate and build up and over the building, Horn said. The Natatorium would remain a recreational activity space for students with a pool, a possible ice rink, multipurpose rooms and eight courts, he said.
The South East Recreational Facility, however, poses a different challenge, because it is landlocked on its site, Horn said. The facility cannot go anywhere but up and the current facility cannot sustain any additional floors, he said.
There is an option to restructure the building by keeping the pool in its current location and adding multipurpose space, a new jogging track and nine regulation-sized basketball courts, Horn said.
The other option would drop the pool to the basement level, remodel the lobby on the ground level and add strength training and cardio rooms, Horn said. The second floor would see an extensive cardio area, multipurpose wing and the top floor would get nine regulation-sized basketball courts, Horn said.
Horn said no design plans currently exist for the Shell.
All indoor facilities would also have a new facade and other aesthetics for an upgrade from current facilities, Horn said.
“You feel like you’re in a tomb when you’re in our facilities,” Horn said.
No cost estimate is set in the plan, but Horn said he would not be surprised if the endeavor’s total cost comes close to $250 million.
Many members of the council voiced concerns about funding the project, suggesting Rec Sports look into other sources of revenue.
ASM Rep. Grace Bolt said the state could be interested in funding the project after a recent interest in health-related legislation.
Rec Sports will be lobbying the state government along with private donors to help fund the master plan, Horn said.
ASM Chair David Gardner said he had previously met with Chancellor Rebecca Blank and Horn to weigh alternative funding options for the master plan.
If the plan is approved, segregated fees would not be effected until the facilities’ doors open, Horn said.
He also presented possible redesigns for UW’s outdoor facilities. In the plans, the Near West fields would see five synthetic turf flag football fields running from north to south. The University Bay fields would include two lacrosse fields, two soccer fields, two rugby fields, two softball fields and a baseball field, all with synthetic turf, he said.
Rec Sports is pushing for synthetic turf fields to be able to use the fields more often. Currently, the natural grass fields are only used 75 percent of the time due to weather-related conditions, Horn said. Synthetic fields would allow for them to be used 90 to 95 percent of the time, he said.
Synthetic fields also allow Rec Sports to generate revenue, Horn said. The majority of requests the department receives to rent fields have to be rejected because the grass on the fields needs to be maintained, he said.
The Nielsen Tennis Stadium could also become home to a two-story fitness component, Horn said. Plans for the tennis stadium include multipurpose fitness space and ability to host tournaments, he said.