The George S. Eccles Student Life Center opened its doors yesterday for the first time and is already packed with students taking advantage of the new equipment.
Luke Burgstahler, a senior in mathematics and a staff member at the new center, is excited about the exercise opportunities offered there. The new facilities include a four-story climbing wall, indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs and a 15,000-square-foot fitness center.
“It was a much-needed improvement for the whole student body,” Burgstahler said.
He said students were saying all positive things when the building opened at 6 a.m. on Monday, with a steady flow of visitors throughout the day.
Construction on the Student Life Center began in August 2013 and finished in late December 2014. The facility is located west of Legacy Bridge near the Fort Douglas TRAX station. The Fieldhouse, which the Student Life Center replaced in purpose but not location, is currently closed to students, but is being used as a chiller plant for the university.
Bobby Perkins-Mcintosh, a senior in parks, recreation and tourism, said the extra space in the new workout center is the biggest selling point.
“The lobby of this building is the entire size of the old building,” Perkins-Mcintosh said.
Almost all facilities are free for students, who can explore all 172,000 square feet with just a swipe of their UCard. But student fees also helped pay for the new $50.4 million building. In addition, Julian Gomez, a program manager for Campus Recreation, said the first week of all fitness classes are free.
Rebecca Davenport, a fitness class instructor, said the success of the center depends on student participation. She worries that some of the classes offered now may be cancelled in the future if students don’t sign up.
“It’s beautiful here, and I want everyone to know about it,” she said.
There are several other first-week discounts and events for the grand opening. Free giveaways will run during the week, along with an open house and discount day for faculty and staff on Thursday.
To draw in all types of students, Gomez said he hopes the new center will not just be seen as a recreation building. The center also houses a University Credit Union, athletic training, the Center for Student Wellness and the Outdoor Adventure Program.
“We want it to be a place where students can come in, work out, socialize and study,” he said. “There are a lot of different activities here students can take a part in.”
Part of that includes employment, as the center is mostly run by students. The center has hired more than 145 students to help in all aspects of the facility. But above all, Gomez just wants students to use and enjoy the new space.
“As a department, we’ve worked really hard to fight for this space for students. We think that it is needed,” he said. “[There’s] no need to go off campus for a gym membership when you have this brand new building sitting right here.”