EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan State University Board of Trustees approved a student recreational facility fee in June. The money will be used to improve the university's aging and undersized recreation facilities.
Right now, IM West is pretty empty except for the very few people on campus. But as students move back to campus, Director of Recreation Facilities Rick McNeil expects the facility to be packed.
“Our biggest problem is capacity," McNeil said.
Especially now that every student will be paying a recreational facility fee.
“This year, we instituted the student recreational fee and the first year it’s $100, $50 per semester, and then it adds on $80 the second year and the third year,” said Residential Hospitality Services Senior Vice President Vennie Gore.
Gore said this fee is important to promote health and wellness.
“Health and wellness is critical for our students and for our staff and when students and staff are healthy then they perform better," Gore said.
McNeil said this fee is long overdue and MSU was the only Big Ten school left that didn't have a fee.
“There’s been a lot of people on campus that have for many years, been wanting to do something, and now’s just the time,” McNeil said. “A lot of students were under the impression that it’s quote ‘free’ at other institutions. Well, it’s not free you, just don’t pay for it out of pocket. It’s assessed in tuition.”
Gore said the three recreational facilities are reaching their life limit.
“IM Circle is 100 years old, IM West is 60 years old and IM East is 40 years old," said Gore. "So, our facilities in IM West and IM Circle have reached their useful life.”
Aside from some of the aging infrastructure, McNeil said, they're just running out of room to the point where some clubs are practicing in the mechanical rooms in the basement.
“The facilities just weren’t designed to accommodate a campus population of 50,000, plus employees,” McNeil said.
The university is conducting two studies to see what would best meet students needs. The first study is figuring out how to create more room.
“To either renovate IM West or build a new facility," Gore said.
If the board decides to renovate IM West, McNeil said, the building will expand out closer to the parking lot. If the board chooses to build a new facility, it will go up near the Breslin Center and Wonders Hall.
Gore said whichever passes will provide much needed space for students.
“We want to have a facility that meets not only today’s students need, but also going into the future,” Gore said.
The second study is for outdoor turf fields.
“Right now Munn Field which is in great condition, in the fall, October, it gets kind of rainy and you start playing on it, it just gets really unsafe for folks, but having the field turf allows for us to have high utilization,” Gore said.
McNeil said if the board approves work on the fields, construction could happen fast.
“That would start construction next March and would be open a year from now,” McNeil said.
As far as a new IM West or current building renovations, that will take more time.
“That’s usually about a three year build so we would open up in 2024,” Gore said.
But McNeil said it will be worth it.
“It’s an opportunity for MSU to be where we’ve never been before,” McNeil said.
The findings from the feasibility studies will be presented to the board in October.
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