Recreational Sports to propose building new SERF, Natatorium

University of Wisconsin-Madison Recreational Sports Director John Horn said many other schools in the Big Ten have updated their recreational facilities in recent years.

Image By: Amy Gruntner

University of Wisconsin-Madison Recreational Sports Director John Horn presented preliminary ideas for an estimated $260 million overhaul of three Rec Sports facilities at a Badgers for Recreational Reform meeting Tuesday.

According to Horn, the Southeast Recreational Facility, the Natatorium, the Nielsen Tennis Stadium and the Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center, commonly known as the Shell, have outlived their life expectancies and some by 20 to 30 years.

“They’re the worst recreational facility designs for students on campuses that we’ve ever been in,” Horn said. “They are very inefficient.”

Ian Malmstadt, president of the newly registered student organization dedicated to improving recreation at UW-Madison, said BBR members are encouraging students to support Rec Sports’ plan to tear down and rebuild the SERF and the Natatorium and expand Nielsen.

Plans for the SERF include a 22-lane swimming pool, diving well and a running track that looks out over the pool as well as expanded fitness space and more multi-purpose rooms, which could house fitness classes and facilitate student organizations, Horn said.

The Natatorium could have an indoor turf, a recreational lap-swim pool and an ice rink, according to Horn, as well as multi-purpose athletic courts. The facility plans also incorporate an academic wing that could house university occupational therapy and kinesiology programs.

Under the new plan, Rec Sports would add on to Nielsen because the facility is in good condition, but it would make it a full fitness center and improve the building’s accessibility by adding an elevator, Horn said.

Rec Sports facilities are funded largely by student segregated fees, according to Horn, but UW-Madison students pay the smallest amount toward recreational facilities of schools in the Big Ten.

Horn said UW-Madison students each pay $36.78 to fund recreational services, but the average recreational services fee for students at Big Ten schools is $146.06.

Horn said Rec Sports would like to bring plans for the three facilities, including a request to increase student segregated fees to complete the project, to the Associated Students of Madison for students to vote on in April 2014.

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