April 29 Groundbreaking Planned for $25 Million Student Recreation Center

Contact: Kenda Scheele, (207) 581-1406, Bill Charland, (207) 581-2653; Joe Carr, (207) 581-3571

ORONO — The University of Maine will hold groundbreaking ceremonies at 1:30 p.m. April 29 in the Stewart Parking Lot for its planned $25 million, state-of-the-art student recreation center.

University administrators, members of the boards of trustees and visitors, members of the architectural design and construction teams, students and area legislators will be among those on hand for the ceremony, to which the public is invited.

The 86,000-square-foot center is expected to open in 2007 and will “transform campus life for students and employees and the whole community,” says Kenda Scheele, associate dean for students. “It’s going to be a magnificent facility. This is going to be a one-of-a-kind recreational facility for the state of Maine.”

The center will offer additional recreational space and new activities for students, who will no longer have to plan around the university’s varsity sports teams which need field house, pool or court time for training. The center will be managed by UMaine Campus Recreation, which is administered through the Division of Student Affairs. Memorial Gym, the field house, pool and Latti Fitness Center are managed by the UMaine Athletic Department, whose priorities are competitive intercollegiate sports teams.

“This will be an exciting new place for students,” Scheele says. “They will have an incredible resource available to them. Instead of hanging out in their rooms, we hope they’ll be hanging out in the rec center.”

The two-level facility, being built east of the Stewart Commons on Hilltop Road, will include:

.  A 12,500-square-foot fitness center, about three times the size of the Latti Fitness Center at Memorial Gym;
.  Three high-school-sized basketball courts and a multiple activity court with rounded corners, recessed goals and dasher boards so it can be used for floor hockey, modified indoor soccer and similar activities;
.  A leisure swimming pool with lap lanes, and amenities such as a spa, bubble bench and sauna;
.  An elevated indoor jogging track;
.  Two racquetball courts, one of which can be converted to a squash court;
.  Three multipurpose rooms suitable for aerobics, yoga, martial arts or Pilates classes;
.  An administrative office suite and a lounge area;
.  Men’s and women’s locker rooms and an “assisted changing room;”
.  And equipment rental operation with gear for outdoor activities, including cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, since the center will be set at the edge of the university’s extensive trails network.

Increased athletic and fitness opportunities on campus are expected to lead to healthier lifestyles all around, says Scheele, who refers to studies that show students who use the UMaine Adventure Center consistently tend to do better socially and academically than students who do not.

The new center “will hopefully address a lot of health issues, including obesity, which is a national concern. We’re also hoping to make a big difference in the way people are looking at the University of Maine,” says Scheele, formerly director of campus recreation. Campus recreational opportunities are among the things students consider when making matriculation decisions, she notes.

Planning of the facility is being done by Brailsford & Dunlavey of Washington, D.C., a national recreation facility planning firm. The design team is Cannon Design architects of Boston and Oest Associates engineers of South Portland and landscape designers Terrence J. DeWan & Associates of Yarmouth. Construction will be performed by Pizzagalli Corp. of South Portland as construction managers.

Brailsford & Dunlavey was the firm that surveyed UMaine students in 2001 and 2002 about what a new rec center should offer, according to Bill Charland, project manager and associate director of UMaine Facilities Management for Construction Administration. Charland says project managers will look to the project to provide jobs for Maine companies.

A scale model of the new center will be on display on April 29 in the FFA room in the Memorial Union.