UT Announces Construction of New Fitness Center

To further enhance campus life and students' co-curricular experience, The University of Tampa is building a new Fitness and Recreation Center in the heart of the UT campus. The 60,000-square-foot facility will address student health and fitness needs.

The new Fitness and Recreation Center, which will house and coordinate campus recreation pursuits, such as club sports, intramurals, off-campus trips, and bike rentals, will be constructed just east of the existing McNiff Fitness Center and north of the Ferman Music Center, where basketball and volleyball courts are currently located. The current fitness center will remain open during construction.

Two Phases of Construction

Construction of the new center will begin immediately and will be done in two phases with phase I consisting of two floors totaling 40,000 square feet. The facility is scheduled for completion during this summer in order to be ready for students in Fall 2016. The phase II future construction will expand the center by an additional 20,000 square feet for a total of 60,000 square feet. The second phase will include additional classroom and lab space for related academic programs.

The fitness center will be a centrally located, one-stop shop for all exercise programs, personal training and evaluation, wellness and nutrition programs, intramurals, recreation activities, club sports and some exercise related laboratory and research activities. Specifically, the center will feature six group exercise rooms, which includes one spinning room, which will hold more than forty spinning bicycles.

There will be approximately 125 pieces of aerobic equipment on the first floor of the building —  including treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bicycles and rowing machines. Two small fitness assessment rooms have been incorporated in the floor plan, as well as a “flexible” classroom to allow for educational and training functions. A large number of fitness machines, (treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, etc.) as well as free weights, will be available. The center will also include offices for Campus Recreation and related staff, as well as lockers.

Building Relationships and Relieving Stress

Stephanie Russell Krebs, dean of students, said UT students have been eager for a new fitness center; she sees the Center as a way to build relationships, relieve stress, have fun and be healthy. “We know that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important to UT students, and we also know that a healthy lifestyle can have very positive impacts on student learning outcomes,” Krebs said. “We believe this center will be beneficial in so many ways, and will further enrich students’ UT experience.”

“I am pleased to say that for the first time, we will have the fitness equipment and space our students need,” Krebs added. When complete, the new facility will be about eight times larger than the current fitness center.

Architecturally, the building will feature high ceilings, open rooms and liberal use of glass to allow for sunlight and a connection to the outdoors. The open floor plan is intended to enhance visibility, foster social interaction and build community. The new facility will also have expanded hours of operation.

An Immediate Impact on Campus

UT President Ronald Vaughn said the new center will have an immediate impact on campus. “We have worked hard to provide activities, spaces and programs for students to enhance their learning and living experience at UT, and building this facility is a part of that ongoing initiative,” Vaughn said. “This is a great day for future and current students, staff and faculty.”

Vaughn added that the facility will also serve UT employees to improve fitness, health, lifestyles and quality of life. “This facility will be particularly valuable to help enrich the work environment and benefit  our full-time employees,” Vaughn said.

After completion of the new center in late summer, the current fitness center, which was opened in 1993, will be demolished. New outdoor basketball and volleyball courts will then be constructed. Construction of the building will be paid for primarily through individual gifts. The name of the new facility will be announced at a later date, but Margaret McNiff ’80, the current facility’s namesake who was an accomplished scholar-athlete who died tragically in 1981, will be recognized inside the building.

In alignment with UT’s commitment to environmental stewardship, the new building will be designed and constructed to be a candidate for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. If successful, it will be UT’s fourth LEED-certified building. The new building exterior will also be enhanced by appropriate landscaping. The lead architect on the project is Eric Kreher of Kreher Architects Inc., and EWI Construction has been named to build the new structure.

About the Author
Eric Cárdenas is the director of public information and publications at The University of Tampa, overseeing university branding and messaging; he’s also responsible for increasing awareness of the university amongst university stakeholders and the public.