RecPlex open to students

Nikki Brahm, Assistant News Editor

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After seven years of planning, the UW Oshkosh RecPlex opened its doors to students.

Associate Director of Student Recreation Tony Dirth said the project was finished midway through summer. A dome covering the RecPlex will be installed sometime between Oct. 22 and the end of October so students are able to play sports regularly despite bad weather.

“The dome will stay up and it will come down before April 15, is the plan,” Dirth said. “So we will have a full six months of indoor activities before it has to come down.”

Dirth said the south field will be available for all students to use from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day.

“Then from 3 p.m. on might be when there will be athletics until 5 p.m., club practices and intramurals, but then this other field will then be open so that any time of the day there will be a place for students to play,” Dirth said.

Dirth said he’s seen action on the field since the first first few days of classes when he checks out the field at night.

“We’ve also had the women’s soccer team come play already and have a practice there; the ultimate frisbee club is coming and having some practices there,” Dirth said. “Again, this is the first week, but I think intramurals are going to pick up more next week, more of the clubs will get started and we are going to see a lot of action there.”

Dirth said students should not wear metal cleats — only rubber cleats or athletic shoes are permitted at the RecPlex. Food and non-water drinks are not permitted.

In order to enter the RecPlex, a Titan ID is required. Like the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, soccer balls, footballs, softballs and frisbees can be checked out for free at the RecPlex. At night, lights will be on so students can play.

“This is a new facility with a new turf,” Dirth said. “It comes with some rules that we have to follow because with regards to warranty and all that stuff.”

Dirth said he’s happy with the project from a department standpoint, and he can tell by the energy of students that they are excited.

“I think that [students have] been hearing about it for a very long time, and so all that hard work that the students put in way back in 2012 for the referendum, and then all that effort that OSA’s made in the past to keep this thing moving, I think everybody’s very excited and happy that it’s finally here,” Dirth said.

Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said he thinks the RecPlex will be an integral piece of the student experience on UWO’s campus.

“The idea of being able to do field sports when there’s a foot of snow on the ground and it’s zero degrees outside, it’s very exciting, and I think very beneficial to the students,” Leavitt said.

Dirth said the project was built from reserves from when the Student Recreation and Wellness Center was built. The student segregated fees were raised to $5 this semester so that the turf and dome can be kept up.

“So 15 years from now when they need to be replaced, we don’t have to go to students asking for money,” Dirth said.
Dirth said students may have a misperception on the funding for the RecPlex.

“I know that maybe perception from the public may be seen as, ‘How can the University be building this when they’re faced with all the budget cuts?’” Dirth said, “But the money’s different and it’s something that we didn’t have to go out and go crazy and ask for funding from the foundation or get money from tax dollars.”

Dirth said there will be a grand opening when the dome is installed. The date is yet to be determined.

“I would encourage everyone to come out and check it out because it really is neat, especially when you’re out there playing and the lights are on,” Dirth said. “It’s quite a sight.”

The RecPlex was built over part of the Gruenhagen parking lot. Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said this may come as a challenge because parking has always been an issue on campus.

“I do not know how the RecPlex has impacted that situation,” Leavitt said. “I do know it is a situation with which we’ve put a lot of time and effort and thought. We have Ben Richardson, our director of parking, and he is in consultation frequently with student affairs to manage the situation as best we can.”

Senior Erin Gruber said she thinks the RecPlex is a great addition to campus after playing on it for soccer practice.

“It’s awesome to have a quality field close to campus, unlike the stadium, that I can run or walk to and get some touches on the ball,” Gruber said. “It’s also convenient for when we have morning practices for soccer, giving us those extra minutes to sleep in and be able to walk right from the field to class.”