A rendering of the weight room in the recreation center that will be built at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith

A rendering of the weight room in the recreation center that will be built at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith.

$11 Million Recreation Center Coming to University of Arkansas-Fort Smith

Student-initiated project will bring provide 47,000 square feet of fitness and recreation space.

The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith has broken ground on a 47,000-square-foot student recreation center.

The $11 million facility, which will open in 2016, will have a rock climbing wall, two basketball courts, four volleyball courts, and additional areas for multipurpose use.

"This new center will provide more square footage, more facilities and additional studios that will be used simultaneously between intramurals, fitness classes and our students," says Dr. Paul B. Beran, university chancellor.

The impetus for the project came from students who wanted better fitness space on campus. The Student Government Association passed a resolution in 2013 in support of a self-imposed fee of $5 per semester credit hour to pay for constructing the center.

After the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees wanted evidence of more broad-based for the fitness facility, students voted in a special election to impose the fee on themselves.

“The story behind the center’s creation is a fitting manifestation of the drive and dedication of our students who will use the building,” Beran says. “These students ran a great campaign, and I couldn’t be more proud to stand in front of you today and tell you this story."

The existing facility on campus has about 4,500 square feet of fitness space, one full-size basketball court, one studio room and a reception area with work stations.

The new center will have about 5,800 square feet of space with cardio and strength machines; a 2,600-square-foot area for individual or small group fitness; three studio rooms that can convert to one large room; a two-story rock wall; two full-size basketball courts; a three-lane track overlooking the basketball courts; and a reception area with work stations.

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