New Student Recreation Center: It’s What’s Inside That Counts

UConn's brand-new Student Recreation Center is set to transform the campus experience for the entire community.

UConn's brand-new Student Recreation Center is set to transform the campus experience for the entire community. ()

The physical presence of UConn’s new Student Recreation Center has already made an impact on campus. At 191,000 square feet of area and four stories tall, its statistics are those of a well-conditioned fitness fanatic grown to giant proportions.

It sits on Hillside Road and completes an impressive intersection with Jim Calhoun Way, joining the School of Business, Gampel Pavilion, and the UConn Bookstore.

As massive as it is in size and shape, the real impact to UConn will be what happens inside the impressive structure.

“Participation in recreation and fitness welcomes people into a community and, at the end of the day, what do we all want? We want to belong,” said UConn Recreation Executive Director Cyndi Costanzo ’88 (CLAS). “We want to be part of something, and this center will provide a fun, inclusive environment for anyone. There’s not many place likes that.”

The new center, which had been in the conceptual phase for years, officially opens for business on Monday, August 26 at 6 a.m. There will be an open house on Thursday, August 15 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday, August 25 at 7 p.m.

The facility will be open to all members of the university community. Undergraduate and graduate student in Storrs with a valid ID will have use of the building through a fee paid each semester as part of their normal bill. Students at UConn Health, UConn Law, and the regional campuses can opt in and pay a fee on their bill as well.

Discounted memberships are available for alumni, faculty, and staff, including affiliate employees. Faculty and staff will also be able to purchase a “plus one” membership, which allows them to bring their spouse or life partner with them to the facility. Members of the general public will also be able to become members.

“We have seen how recreation centers can transform campuses,” said Costanzo. “Right now, we see 2,500 student participants in a day, which means we service 675,000 participants a year, which translates to about 80 percent of our student population. Those numbers are really, really good. With the new center, conservative estimates put us a 6,000 participants a day and well over a million for a year. If we consider ourselves an active community of engaged students, it is going to be transformative to what they do.”

The project already has a special Husky touch, as the project manager for Turner Construction, who built the facility, was Dave Christoforo ’88 (CLAS), ’96 (ENG), a football student-athlete in his undergraduate days.

The Student Recreation Center will offer far more than what was previously available on campus. In addition to familiar recreation amenities, it will have an outdoor adventure center, which includes a bicycle repair shop; an eight-lane, 25-yard competitive swimming pool and a three-lane recreation pool; a mind-body studio with an outdoor terrace; a four-court gymnasium and two additional multi-purpose courts; a medical training room; a 56-foot high climbing wall; a cycling studio; three racquetball courts; two fitness performance suites, which each include a consultation room; towel dispensers that are free for students; and more.

The center also expects to be a draw when high school students are deciding whether to attend UConn or go elsewhere.

“Research has shown that there are three primary factors that students look at when they’re wanting to attend colleges and universities – the first is majors, the second is cost, and the third is recreational opportunities,” said Costanzo.

The Student Recreation Center will also support those students who are struggling with anxiety and depression.

“This center can be part of the answer for someone who needs help,” Costanzo said. “We are not medical practitioners, but we can be the community in which student start to move through their therapy and take part in yoga and health and wellness program. We are a place where they can practice some of the strategies they may have learned in counseling.”

The building is a LEED Gold project from an environmental standpoint, and is SITES Certified in its landscaping that protects the local ecosystem.

“I think we have the ability to cross the aisle,” said Costanzo. “This building is not an island. We can cross into the academic realm here and create experiential learning opportunities for students. We can create employee wellness opportunities and links that bring faculty, staff and students together. That’s how you impact the whole community.”