Overcrowding is a growing issue for the CU Rec Center
“Shoulder to shoulder” evokes a sense of pride at CU when speaking of the football team or a united student body. However, the catch phrase takes on an entirely new meaning at the CU Recreation Center.
Students usually have to wait to use Cybex machines or free weights, and sometimes can’t even play basketball on one of the three courts because of overcrowding or intramural sports.
“I get intimidated sometimes because I feel I have to rush,” said Rachael Fishering, a freshman economics major, of her weightlifting exercises.
She’s not alone. The Rec Center, with a $6.2 million annual budget, is one of the most-used buildings on campus. Building Services Manager Daniel Rummell said the Rec Center is most crowded from 4-8 p.m. on weekdays.
“It’s been here a while, and the university is growing, so of course we need more space,” Fishering said.
The last time the building went through major renovations, George H. W. Bush was still in office, the Soviet Union was nearing its end and students were all watching Nickelodeon. That was 1990. The renovations, which cost $7 million, tripled the size of the free-weight room and added the three basketball courts, an indoor running track and conference rooms.
However, a lot has changed since 1990. CU’s enrollment has grown steadily and is fast approaching 30,000 undergraduate students. Still, there are no specific plans for renovations or improvements in the near future.
“We will probably get into those discussions in the future,” said Gary Chadwick, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs. “But right now we need to do some outdoor recreation facility renovations and improvements,” referring to such student-funded projects as Farrand Field and the Kittredge fields.
For now, students will just have to find the silver lining in all of this.
“I think the basketball courts are better when they’re crowded because you get better games,” said Matt Schreiber, a freshman open-option major.
Still, what appreciation he has for the crowds on the basketball courts stops when he enters the weight room. “It’s a lot nicer of a lift when you don’t have to wait for machines,” Schreiber said.
Other schools in the Big 12 have upgraded their recreation centers as necessary.
The University of Oklahoma, which has approximately 19,600 undergrads, is home to Huston Huffman Center, which features three strength-training areas, eight basketball courts and other amenities like a climbing wall and cardiovascular room.
And when it comes to the University of Texas’ Gregory Gymnasium, everything seems, well, Texas-sized. After a $26.3 million renovation project began in late 1995, the gym is the class of the Big 12. The facility comes with seven basketball courts, 10 racquetball courts, two weight-training rooms (one for students and one for faculty), pool tables with big-screen televisions, a cafè, a retail store, and steam and sauna rooms. Renovations are continuing on its indoor pool, and construction is under way with outdoor pools and spas.
To be fair, though, CU did install new windows and frames around the Rec Center’s pool area this past summer.
But the bigger question remains: Who decides if the CU Rec Center gets renovated?
Chadwick said the rec center is fully funded by University of Colorado Student Union student fees and self-generating revenues, such as intramural sports.
“We don’t get anything from the university,” Chadwick said.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Evan Acker at firstname.lastname@example.org.