State Building Commission approves RecPlex

Matt Silva

UW Oshkosh Intramural Recreation Field Complex is set for construction after receiving approval by the State Building Commission in December. UWO Recreation Coordinator Tony Dirth said construction will hopefully start by Fall 2016. “The timeline plan is that we hope to hold a groundbreaking event before the end of this spring semester so that the current students can be a part of it,” Dirth said. “Construction will begin in the fall of this year, with the completion scheduled for fall of 2017.” According to Dirth, the RecPlex will be a bifurcated, two pod concept. “The south (domed) field will be on the site of the former River Commons, right next to Gruenhagen on that grassy field,” Dirth said. “The front will face north on Osceola St. The north (un-domed) field will sit across Osceola Street and take the place of the current grass field next to the parking garage.” UWO Vice Chancellor of Students Affairs Petra Roter said the use of the RecPlex will mostly be for UWO students. “Use priority goes to our students for recreational and intramural activities, then to club sports and athletics,” Roter said. “During non-prime student usage, the community and outside rental come into play to generate the revenue—during breaks, interim, and parts or all of some weekends would be prime rental options.” According to Roter, part of the funding comes from savings from the construction of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and an amount of $10 will be taken from students segregated fees, which is part of student tuition. The revenues will also support and increase recreational options and programs for students. “[The RecPlex is] just another of UWO’s many recruitment and retention tools,” Roter said. “It will serve as a positive and healthy outlet for our students who want to participate in intramurals and sports. It also is another way to partner with the community and bring the community to our campus, as well as generate revenues.” Roter said the lack of space for activities can be a common complaint among UWO students. “RecPlex was a concept that came from the students who wanted to have more recreational opportunities and to accommodate the growing interest and participation of club sports,” Roter said. “Our campus does not have the kind of spaces to meet our ever increasing campus recreation needs.” UWO junior Nathan Defatte said the Student Recreation and Wellness Center is large enough and new enough, and it does not need to be increased. “The Rec is great and accomodating enough for a Division III school,” Defatte said. “And I like the open spaces where the RecPlex will be built upon.” In a document posted by the University, the budget for the RecPlex is estimated to be $6.46 million. “Building the RecPlex for the small increase in student fees is made possible because of the significant savings that were realized during the construction of the SRWC, and revenue realized from renting the RecPlex during winter break, spring break and summer when the student population dramatically decreases on campus,” the document stated. Dirth said currently the budget for the RecPlex is a bit under $5 million. “The total project’s budget is $4.8 million,” Dirth said. “This includes both fields, the support building, lights, etc. Not included in that number is the actual dome, which we have to procure as an equipment purchase during the design process so that the design team can ensure all specifications of our facility will work with the dome manufacturer’s specifications.” According to Defatte, the amount of money spent on the RecPlex could be used elsewhere. “The money could be used to renovate Albee, which is also an athletic facility,” Defatte said. “It has good space and features but many students don’t know about it or are not that interested in it since it looks old and outdated.” Roter said the RecPlex will hopefully increase overall availability of recreation equipment to students. “Right now we have to turn away students and intramural teams, as well as limit club sports and athletics use of our facilities because we just do not have space or weather and/or daylighting does not cooperate with the use of the limited outdoor space,” Roter said. UWO Senior Mallory Radney said the RecPlex is going to be a great addition to the campus. “It will be big, it will be new and it will be nice,” Radney said. “It will have state of the art equipment.” Roter said the needs for the facility were expressed by students. “It should be noted that over 80 percent of our students here at UWO are involved in some kind of formal or informal recreational activity,” Roter said. “Surveys and evaluations indicate that our students would like to expand the recreational options available to them and increase their opportunities to participate or play.”