Students seeking health club-like exercise and recreation facilities presently have two options: Alumni Arena already crowded with varsity teams and private, frequently expensive, off-campus health clubs. This, however, may soon change.
Next semester university officials will begin considering plans to augment recreational facilities at UB, including the possibility of building a recreation center for students not involved in varsity sports.
"Among the options being considered were expanded recreation in Alumni, maybe even in an expanded Alumni or a new fieldhouse/rec center, or a stand alone rec center," Vice President of Student Affairs Dennis Black stated in an e-mail. "There has been good discussions on the concept of a stand-alone rec center and we are beginning to look at how that could be done," stated Black.
UB officials recently suggested the option of incorporating a recreational center within the proposed Lee Road construction, possibly as the complex's focal point.
"The location on Lee Road is part of our campus commitment to develop that area as a North-South link and the thinking of the master plan consultant is that a rec center could be a wonderful 'anchor' to the project," stated Black.
According to Edward Johnson, director of internal operations for UB's Division of Athletics, the center, if located on Lee Road, will be one of the earliest constructed segments of the complex.
The center will also increase UB's similarity to other MAC universities, many of which boast specialized recreational centers for students.
"There is a small group of people from athletics and Student Affairs who began to look at our current recreation offerings and began to compare ourselves to peer institutions, and found we are woefully behind other institutions in what we offer in the sense of recreation," said Barbara Ricotta, dean of Student Affairs.
Administrators compared UB's current workout facilities and the accessibility of gym space to other MAC universities such as Kent State, Miami University of Ohio and Ohio University.
"We felt that we needed to talk with the campus about whether that was something that needed to be improved. From our perspective it looked like we were woefully behind and as we looked at other people it looked like other schools were much farther along than we were," said Ricotta.
"It's not a forgone conclusion that we are going to build a recreation center, but it's an idea," added Ricotta.
UB will hire a private firm to study campus recreational needs and assess whether they are met by existing facilities. If they are not, "the most logical spot [for a recreation center] at this point in time seems to be the Lee Road development," said Ricotta.
The study will utilize focus groups and surveys to assess the current recreation space and identify what facilities students would like on each campus.
The cost of a center would depend heavily on the building's size and the types of facilities offered. According to Johnson, the recreation center could range in price from $15 million to upwards of $35 million.
Memberships to the center would be included in the mandatory student activity fee, and would be offered to faculty and staff for a fee. Whether membership will be offered to the public has yet to be determined.
"Obviously the more revenue we would generate from those memberships the less it would cost students. Whether we did that through our recreation fee or through membership fees, any income that you would make off of groups like that would just supplement and reduce the cost for students," said Ricotta.