U presents proposal to expand current recreational facilities

The plan calls for enlarging the recreation center, renovating Cooke Hall and adding a new entrance to the Field House.

by Patricia Drey

Compared with the University’s previous recreational facility underneath the bleachers in the old Memorial Stadium, the school’s current recreation center might seem like an improvement, but now University officials say the school needs more.

While vermin and broken floors presented problems in the old facility, lack of space for recreational sports is the current problem, said James Turman, recreational sports director.

Turman and Capital Planning and Project Management director Harvey Turner presented a plan seeking to mitigate the problem by increasing the size of the recreation center, renovating Cooke Hall and adding a new entrance to the Field House to the Board of Regents Facilities Committee.

Employees who are high insurance risks because of inactive lifestyles could use the facilities to improve their health, and new facilities might help attract prospective students to the campus, Turman said.

The extra space could also be used for fitness and weight-training rooms, multi-purpose rooms for aerobics, yoga and other small group activities, and gyms for basketball and volleyball, Turner said. As part of the plan, the department would also create a wellness center that might be used for lifestyle assessment, he said.

The designs are still in the preliminary stages, and it is impossible to say when construction could start, Turner said. The project has to be identified as a priority and put on a six-year capital plan before the predesign process can begin, he said.

Turner said he thinks the administration will prioritize this project because they are interested in improving the whole college experience for students, faculty and staff.

Although Board of Regents Chairman David Metzen supports the plans, he was surprised the plans called for keeping the current Field House.

“We’re going to keep the Field House?” Metzen said. “That thing looked old 40 years ago.”

Turman said the Field House – one of the most heavily used buildings on campus – is used for indoor jogging and intramural soccer among other things.

As the University continues to construct new buildings, the amount of land dedicated to recreational sports has fallen dramatically, Turman said in an interview.

The number of outdoor sports fields fell from 28 in 1972 to 11 in 2001, according to a report from the recreational sports department. Most fields were lost to housing or athletics, Turman said.

Departmental surveys show that about 9 percent of those interested in intramural flag football and 11 percent of those interested in soccer were able to join teams in 2001 because of space constraints, Turman said.

Although the number of some intramural sports teams the University offers has decreased, overall student participation in recreational sports has increased, he said.

In 2001, there were 6.8-square feet of indoor recreational sports space per student, giving the University a ninth-place ranking among 10 similarly sized universities.

Ohio State topped the list with 14.4-square feet of indoor recreational sports space per 1,000 students, according to the University’s recreational sports department report.