Inside Iowa State

Inside Archives

Submit news

Send news for Inside to, or call (515) 294-7065. See publication dates, deadlines.

About Inside

Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Nov. 16, 2007

Recreation services

An architect's sketch of what a west addition to State Gym (at left) might look like. Submitted image.

Recreation Services explores west side facility addition

by Erin Rosacker

With 94-year-old State Gym and 43-year-old Beyer Hall serving as the only options for indoor recreation and fitness programs on the west side of campus, the addition of a new facility and renovations to the two existing buildings would give students, faculty and staff more options and convenience.

Recreation Services is shopping around a plan that would help fulfill more of the needs and wants identified in an assessment of its services and facilities.

The needs assessment report includes data from an online student survey, comparisons to peer institutions and a planning workshop that involved participants from campus, the Ames community and an external planning team.

With the needs assessment report in hand, Cannon Design developed a feasibility study that recommended renovating State Gym and Beyer Hall and building a new facility. Recreation Services hopes to implement those recommendations to improve its programs and facilities.

"The feasibility study took that assessment information and the priorities the department staff had, worked with us to further identify what our top priority was, and based it on the funding that was identified by the university," said Mike Harvey, Recreation Services director. "That calculates out to a project of about $48 million, with construction of $34 million."

The project would be funded primarily by a student recreation fee, the same method the University of Iowa is using to fund its new facility. Iowa recently broke ground on a $69 million, 215,000-square-foot campus recreation and wellness center that is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2009.

The plan

The feasibility study recommends the bulk of the money be spent to construct a 92,320-square-foot addition to State Gym. The historic building itself also would receive a major renovation, and Beyer would get some updates. The Lied Recreation Center would receive air conditioning, something that none of the current Recreation Services facilities have.

"We want to be very realistic," Harvey said. "This is what has been identified as a minimum that we really need to be able to continue to improve and offer high-quality programs, services and facilities on campus. In particular, west-side facilities that complement what's at the Lied Center are lacking."

Additional recommended improvements, which include lighting and artificial turf at some outdoor recreation fields, could be done in the future.


Not only is the lack of facilities on the west side of campus an issue, but adding multi-purpose rooms and weight and fitness equipment are top priorities. Harvey said what would be offered on the west side wouldn't necessarily duplicate what's already available in the Lied Center.

"I want to say it's complementary," Harvey said. "The aquatics are going to stay on [the west] side. We're not projecting as large of a track or any turf area like we have at Lied. This would primarily expand the number of wooden gymnasium floors and really look at multi-purpose rooms. The cardio-weight-strength areas, a climbing wall and a leisure pool area also are high on the list."

Student funding

In a 2006 online student survey, 94 percent of the 5,401 participants indicated that they use Recreation Services programs and services. Only 12 percent placed a low or very low priority on the need for new or improved recreation facilities. Students will bear the brunt of the funding, but Harvey believes the support is there.

"Everyone has been supportive of it, everyone believes that recreation is important, but how do you balance that with cost? Cost is important," Harvey said. "Recreation is critical to the recruitment of students to campuses, it's critical to their out-of-class learning, their out-of-class experiences, their enjoyment. It's even been linked to the success of the students academically and it's part of that whole, holistical body experience at the university."

The next steps

The plan would need support from students, which Harvey hopes to get during an all-student vote in February. Recreation Services also needs a go-ahead from university administration and approval from the Board of Regents.

A student-led group already is making plans for an educational campaign to start in January. The group will make presentations about the proposed renovations and facilities to student organizations, including the Government of the Student Body and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate.

If the plan earns approval next semester, construction would begin in 2009 with an anticipated completion in 2011. Faculty and staff would be able to use the new facility -- as well as State Gym and Beyer -- by purchasing a semester or annual pass. Currently, only the Lied Center requires a user pass.

Learn more

Mike Harvey and his staff will include the west campus plan as part of an update on Recreation Services during an open forum hosted by the Professional and Scientific Council Dec. 6 (noon-1 p.m., MU South Ballroom).