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Cheryl Peck


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UIS unveils design of new recreation and fitness center

July 13, 2005

SPRINGFIELD – The design for a new recreation and fitness center at the University of Illinois at Springfield was unveiled today at a news conference at the UIS campus, pending U of I Board of Trustees approval expected to take place during the board’s regular meeting on July 14 in Chicago.

An artist's conception of one of the entrances to the new recreation and fitness center at UIS.

The state-of-the-art center, designed primarily to provide recreation and fitness opportunities for UIS students, will include a 3,000-seat gymnasium capable of expanding to a 4,000-seat performance arena. The 57,513 net-square-foot facility will be located just west of Kiwanis Stadium on the south edge of campus.

“The center will advance our efforts to enhance campus life and provide a range of activities for students and staff, younger and older, whether they live on campus or commute to campus,” said UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen.  “Throughout the country, colleges and universities are discovering what an important role recreation centers play in bringing all of their students together for recreation, fitness, wellness, and fun.”

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The engineering firm of Woolpert, Inc. of Fairview Heights and architect Moody-Nolan, Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, have created an open, transparent design on two levels – a first floor and mezzanine.  The lobby on the first floor will extend from an entrance on the northeast side of the building facing the campus quadrangle to another entrance on the southwest side facing a parking lot to be constructed for the center.

“Essentially, the building has no back side because both main entrances have the appearance of front entryways with a lobby in the middle that allows easy access through the center,” said Dave Barrows, Director of Physical Planning and Operations at UIS.

In addition to the gymnasium/performance arena, the center will have a running track; fitness and exercise rooms and equipment; racquetball, volleyball, and basketball courts; a weight training room; locker rooms; and administrative and amenity areas.  The gymnasium will be home to the Prairie Stars varsity men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams.

Barrows said construction is expected to be complete in summer 2007.  Projected cost is $14.1 million.

In April 2003, a student referendum was held at UIS to determine the level of support for a recreational facilities fee for the center. A total of 66% of the students who voted indicated their support for the fee of $60 per semester that started in fall 2004 and will increase over a three-year period up to $185 per semester.

“We are very grateful for the vision and commitment on the part of those forward-thinking students. Their support for the center will have a far-reaching effect on the campus and the thousands of future students who will benefit from having access to such a wonderful facility,” Ringeisen said.

The center will increase by more than 47,000 net square feet the amount of space for recreation, fitness, and indoor athletic activities.  UIS’ current indoor fitness facility, which occupies a portion of a converted cafeteria, is housed in one of the campus’ original metal buildings constructed in 1969.  The existing single-court gymnasium, built in 1985, contains only 8,500 square feet. 

“Our recreational and athletic facilities have become very inadequate as the number of students participating in recreation and sports activities increases and student life continues to develop,” said Christopher Miller, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. “Student development is a priority for this campus, and an emphasis on health and wellness is crucial in that development.”

Miller noted that the center will be large enough to support increased underclass enrollment in fall 2006 when UIS plans to admit a larger number of freshmen for the first time, about 250.

The project required prior approval by both the U of I Board of Trustees (June 2004) and the Illinois Board of Higher Education (August 2004).



    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.