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The “transformation” of Eastern Kentucky University continued on Monday, Dec. 11, with the groundbreaking for a new Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

The new center, which at approximately 130,000 square feet will be more than double the size of the University’s existing fitness center, is expected to open in Fall 2019 on the former site of Todd and Dupree residence halls and adjacent to a soon-to-be-renovated student union facility.

Together with Case Dining Hall, which opens in January 2018, and the renovated student union, the new recreation center will “breathe new life into the epicenter of campus,” said EKU President Michael Benson.

The facility would not have been possible if not for the 2014-15 EKU Student Senate, which overwhelmingly approved a student fee that is also financing the Powell Building renovations and a pedestrian overpass across the Eastern By-Pass near Alumni Coliseum.

“Without the students, we wouldn’t be here today,” Benson said.

The new Student Recreation and Wellness Center will feature:

·         three regulation-size basketball/volleyball courts

·         three racquetball courts (equipment to alternately be used for volleyball)

·         Multi-activity court (MAC) gymnasium

·         weight and fitness areas as well as a dedicated cardio area and platform

·         two-story rock climbing wall and bouldering area

·         four-lane lap and recreation pool, with zero-depth entry, vortex and spa

·         walking/running track

·         large men’s and women’s locker rooms

·         fitness testing lab

·         three multi-purpose rooms/studios

·         administrative space

·         game room/golf simulator

·         recreation equipment checkout area

Dr. Billy Martin, associate vice president and chief student affairs officer, predicted that the new facility would “have a profound impact on recruitment and retention. Students who use (such a) facility are retained at a higher rate.”

“Today is a banner day, continuing the transformation of our University,” said Craig Turner, chair of the EKU Board of Regents, who has spoken at numerous groundbreaking and dedication ceremonies on the Richmond campus in recent years but never tires of the opportunities. “It’s a tremendous honor for me and for the Board to see these types of things happen.”

Student Government Association President Laura Jackson also spoke at the event.

“I’m very excited for future Colonels who’ll get to use this center,” the senior said.

Groundbreaking photo