University Recreation & Wellbeing held an event Thursday outside Dejope Residence Hall to provide new details regarding the construction of the new Natatorium which will be known as the Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center.
The new Natatorium is the second building project in the University of Wisconsin’s master plan, an overhaul of the campus recreational and athletic facilities that began in March 2014. The Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center is set to complete construction in 2023.
The facility will be named after the Bakke family who announced Thursday they will donate $20 million to the project. Jim Bakke is a UW alumnus and president and CEO of Sub-Zero Group, a luxury appliance company, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
UW administrators, RecWell staff, student leaders and architects attended the event.
At the beginning of the event, President Marlon WhiteEagle of the Ho-Chunk Nation gave a speech to congratulate UW on the project and remind the audience of past relations between the Ho-Chunk Nation and the University.
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UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank, who headlined the event, said she hopes the new Bakke Center will have a positive effect on the campus community.
“There will be an academic space for our top-ranked kinesiology program, one of the fastest-growing majors on our campus,” Blank said. “It will be a space that welcomes the community in, with community events, camps and clinics and one-on-one nutritional counseling.”
The Bakke Center will be home to a 25-yard recreational pool, eight basketball courts, an ice sheet, expanded fitness areas, multipurpose studios and an indoor jogging track. The facility will also have all-gender showers and locker areas to accommodate all members and visitors, according to the construction project’s website.
Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs Lori Reesor also spoke at the event, thanking the Bakke family for their contributions, as well as the Associated Students of Madison for the work they did to garner student support for the Master plan.
“I’m proud to recognize our student government, the Associated Students of Madison, for their leadership six years ago to gain student financial support for this building, the Nicholas Recreation Center and two outdoor fields,” Reesor said.
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The Natatorium has a total budget of $113.2 million and is expected to be finished by the spring of 2023. According to the website, the university is particularly excited about the Bakke Center’s proximity to Lake Mendota and the Lakeshore Path.
The event concluded with a look at some of the construction progress and a groundbreaking ceremony.