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Ceremony marks construction of $16.5M recreation center

Ceremony marks construction of $16.5M recreation center

Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 10:19 am

The Messenger 10.08.08

The University of Tennessee at Martin broke ground last week for a 96,000-square-foot campus recreational center.
Target completion date for the $16.5 million project is Spring 2010.
University of Tennessee President John Petersen and UT Martin Chancellor Tom Rakes participated in the ceremony that took place at the site on Mount Pelia Road during UT Martin’s homecoming week activities. The UT board of trustees approved construction of the facility in November 2006.
“Campus recreation is a vital component for student life at UT Martin,” Rakes said. “I know opening a modern recreational facility will be a welcome addition to multiple playing fields, swimming and many other recreational sites our students enjoy on a daily basis.
“Our recreation staff is among the busiest on campus and we are anxious to complete this new facility,” he added.
The new Student Recreation Center will allow the Office of Campus Recreation to expand hours and offerings. For the fiscal year 2008, more than 3,000 students participated in intramural activities and leisure recreation recorded participation counts of 46,000.
Dr. Margaret Toston, UT Martin vice chancellor for student affairs, noted that in 2005, the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association estimated that by 2010 new construction and renovations for indoor campus recreational sports facilities would cost colleges and universities at least $3.17 billion, at an average cost of $14.2 million.
“UT Martin is among a growing list of educational institutions across the nation that are responding to students’ desire to enhance their physical and mental health, as well as to have a respite from rigorous academic work,” she said.
The Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (2006) further outlined indirect benefits to students who participate in campus recreation. Students tend to develop a positive self-image and increased self-control and gain social interaction skills and maturity, Dr. Toston added.
“We at UT Martin are tuned into the needs of our students and we have responded by funding a facility that will have a positive impact on the mind, body and spirit of our students. I know that our students value and appreciate the way in which we have responded to their need for a healthy lifestyle,” she said.
The facility will include four basketball courts/indoor soccer arena, a walking/jogging/running area, weight room, cardio-fitness areas, an aerobic room, a multi-purpose room, locker rooms and racquetball courts. In addition, there will be space for a lounge area, equipment checkout stations, offices, classrooms, storage and janitorial rooms.
“I’m excited about this facility and what it means for students here at UT Martin. Students will now have a place that can service their recreational and wellness needs and a place to call their own,” said Gina McClure, director of campus recreation.
The new recreational center will be built primarily for students, as student fees will be the main funding source. Other potential users may include faculty, staff, retirees, alumni and families of UT Martin students and employees, who will pay a fee for use of the facility.
Lyle, Cook, Martin of Clarksville and Fleming Associates of Memphis are serving as project architects in a joint venture and A&K Construction Co. of Paducah, Ky., is building the center.
UT Martin’s current primary recreational facility, the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center, houses campus recreation, athletics and academic departments, which also divide operational time. The Elam Center also serves as a regular location for campus-wide and community events, limiting its hours available for recreation.
For more information, contact Ms. McClure at (731) 881-7745.

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