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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Finding space for fitness during construction at MU

The equipment will be moved to O’Donnell, the Old Gym, the Annex and the Rec Plex.

Marquette University President Michael Lovell announced the development of a new health and wellness center on campus that will include counseling services and a medical clinic along with recreation and fitness services in March of 2022. The project will cost an estimated $80 million, is projected to be 180,000 square feet and is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

The Helfaer Tennis Stadium and Recreation Center will officially shut down Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. for the relocation of equipment and preparation for the construction of the Wellness + Recreation Center. Marquette will relocate the current fitness equipment to interim locations at the the Rec Plex, O’Donnell Hall, the Old Gym and the Annex.

“Adequate. It’s not going to be the same,” John Sweeney, Marquette director of recreational sports said. “You can’t just take a huge facility like this and reproduce it around campus.”

More than 2,500 people visit between the Rec Center and Rec Plex daily, Sweeney said. He suggests being patient around the situation and flexible with scheduling, noting the current recreation spaces increased activity after 3 p.m.

“I think it’s the best that they could do,” Trevor Morris, senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said. “I do appreciate how they didn’t just put some students to the streets quote-unquote and be like, well, good luck.”

Morris started lifting in middle school and is a member of the powerlifting team at Marquette. Morris plans on getting a membership at Gold’s Gym in preparation for the interim fitness spaces, citing equipment availability and shortcomings as a concern.

“A lot of people who I’ve talked to … we’re all on the same thought process, that we’re going to go to another gym,” Morris said.

Caroline Johnson, a junior in the College of Communication, started lifting seriously last year and also plans on getting a separate gym membership in preparation for the interim fitness spaces, while still planning to utilize them when it is more convenient.

“I honestly have no idea what to expect out of it,” Johnson said. “I actually got a gym membership at VASA fitness so that I don’t have to deal with the craziness that’s gonna go on cause the Rec Center and the Rec Plex are already pretty packed, so I was not looking forward to having an even smaller space with more people.”

Johnson believes that students’ access to transportation along with their level of interest in physical fitness will dictate many decisions to go to other gyms.

“You’re not gonna have a full gym, it’s not the full Rec Center,” Eric Skogland, a junior in the College of Engineering and Rec Sports student manager, said. “I don’t think it’ll be the same experience, but I think it’s gonna be a lot better than the expectation, … I think it’s gonna be just as much space as before.”

While the interim spaces will contain all of the cardio and weight training equipment that currently resides in the Rec Center, the interim spaces will include three basketball courts, as opposed to the current seven available on a daily basis. The construction will also eliminate the pool and tennis courts at the Rec Center, meaning there will only be one pool, at the Rec Plex, and no tennis courts on campus.

Sweeney said while no hours of operation are official, the plan is to expand the hours at the Rec Plex pool to accommodate more students. The Old Gym, located on the corner of 16th and Clybourn Street, will play primary host to open play, intramural and club basketball, along with the Rec Plex and The Annex. The Annex will also be utilized for group exercise classes.

“In the past we’ve had up to 125 basketball teams, I don’t know if we’ll be able to accommodate that many anymore,” Sweeney said. “We’re gonna have to be a little more creative with how we offer those programs.”

With plans to utilize Cristo Rey Jesuit High School’s gym for club sports, mainly men’s and women’s club volleyball and basketball, as well as the Valley Fields Dome for other club sport needs, Sweeney believes they have club sports covered during the transition, with the exception of water sports clubs, calling it “crunch time.”

“My biggest thing is just being patient, but like all across the board. Being patient with the space that you have and being patient with the other kids around you, because majority of the people are there for all the same reasons,” Johnson said. “Just being patient and making sure you’re taking care of yourself and the people around you.”

This story was written by Kevin Fitzpatrick. He can be reached at [email protected]

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