About the Plan

The Rec Sports Master Plan includes designs for the renovation and expansion of indoor and outdoor recreational facilities at UW-Madison in order to better meet the space demands and programming interests of UW-Madison students. Total cost of the project is estimated at $223 million (more financial information available below). Please note that the images presented here are conceptual, not finalized, designs. 


  • 9 regulation-size courts for Basketball, Volleyball, Badminton, Futsal, etc.
  • 9 multipurpose rooms
  • 7 laps/mile on a new indoor track
  • 6 racquetball/squash courts
  • 3 times the current amount of cardio + strength fitness space
  • PLUS renovations to existing 50-meter pool and a wellness suite


  • 12 regulation-size courts for Basketball, Volleyball, Badminton, Futsal, etc.
  • 7 times the current amount of cardio + strength fitness space
  • 6 multipurpose rooms
  • 6 racquetball/squash courts
  • 4.5 laps/mile on a new indoor track
  • PLUS an 8-lane recreation & instruction pool, indoor turf field, ice rink, and wellness suite


  • 5 Flag Football fields at Near West
  • 5 Soccer fields at Near East (including one championship field)
  • Lighted fields
  • Ecofill turf (made from recycled materials)

January 2014 Public Meeting Presentation


  • Total project cost is estimated at $223 million (SERF, Natatorium, and Near East & Near West Fields)
  • Students’ segregated fees will increase by no more than $108 per semester, keeping segregated fees dedicated to campus recreation less than the equivalent Big Ten average of $145.06
  • Alternative funding sources will account for a minimum of 43% of the project (these sources include gifts, the State, UW Athletics, and Rec Sports program revenue)
  • At the request of students, Rec Sports has successfully kept students’ funding proportion to less than 60% of the total project amount (segregated fees will account for 57% of the total cost). This amount is consistent with student fee support in the overall Rec Sports budget.
  • Should additional funding from alternative sources become available, these funds will also offset the increase in students’ segregated fees
  • Due to the amount of alternative funding already committed to the Master Plan (pending students’ support in March), Rec Sports is in a position to minimize increases in segregated fees until a new facility opens

82 thoughts on “About the Plan

  1. It does seem pretty obvious that 40,000 people would use an outdoor track, but maybe I’m not being sensible about prioritization/ seasonality of when students are on campus? we don’t need a track to run…that is true…(that indoor track is awesome, but still doesn’t meet the demands)… maybe students can use the McMillian track? if not, the answer seems obvious: put a track around the outdoor soccer fields (1/2 mile laps, or whatever it ends up being)..would be awesome
    tracks and soccer fields go well together (create an extremely versatile space).

  2. Have you considered operating at longer hours of the day? Many of the other Big ten campuses with similar amounts of rec centers have a longer open period. I used to be able to get to the gym at 5:30 am and work out with plenty of time to get to a job or work that required me there at 7:30 or 8:00 am. A lot of focus is placed on the evening work outs which is understandable but opening at 6:30am is one of the latest opening rec sports facilities in the big ten with exception to Michigan State.

  3. will there be room for the nat to host the big swim meets it has hosted in the past. from the images it looks like there is limited deck space and no spectating area.

    1. Steve, the reason this is linked together is because the plans are not finalized. Everything you see is conceptual. So in the current concept, we could have 3 times more fitness space to be allocated based on current demand for each of these spaces. However, we have heard quite a few comments from students about the amount of lobby space. Because no formal design has taken place, we could easily convert some of the “free zone” and lobby space into additional cardio or strength space. Does that make sense? Please let us know if we can clarify anything further for you.

  4. 1) Where can I find the blueprints for these plans? A few artists’ rendering images do not capture actual floorplans and space usage.

    2) What is the environmental impact to renovating the outdoor fields?
    These are two questions I cannot find answers to on your website.

    I agree that the spaces need to be updated and renovated and I am willing to spend more to do so. I use these spaces on an almost daily basis.

    I will not vote for this plan.

    I disagree with the space allotment and design that you show on the website. I don’t want to be in a huge fishbowl when I’m on a fitness machine, nor do I want to have to walk up and down stairs because I want to use free weights and weight machines in the same workout. I think losing UW swimming space is unacceptable. I think putting in outdoor space and not including an outdoor track is appalling. I think any outdoor spaces that infringe on wetlands does not begin to be made up for by building green buildings. What are other options? I would vote yes to renovate the facilities. I will not vote yes to this plan as it is given.

    1. Rachel, official blueprints are not yet available as no formal design process as taken place. The designs and images you see are exactly what you mentioned… they are renderings. Formal design will be established through a bidding process pending students’ support of the Master Plan. Rec Sports will continue to listen to students for feedback and insight regarding amenities and design. However, you can look through our News & Updates link for conceptual layouts given the renderings you see on our sight. For example, here is a link to the layouts for the SERF: https://uwmadisonrecsports.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/serf-layout-concepts-revealed/.

      Environmental impact studies will be performed once funding is approved for the Master Plan. In order to have this funding, students must vote to support the plan March 3-5 in the ASM Spring Elections (www.asm.uwsc.wisc.edu). More information about environmental impact studies can be found here: https://uwmadisonrecsports.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/clarifications-to-concerns-about-environmental-impact-of-master-plan/.

      As you can imagine, Rachel, it is difficult to design a plan that meets every individual’s needs and requests. One of the advantages to having open facilities is that these spaces provide for adaptive programming — as trends in fitness and recreation change, along with the needs of students, this flexibility in design provides an opportunity to serve the needs of Badgers for decades to come. That being said, the concepts you see are merely concepts and not final.

      We are hoping that students will exercise their right to vote, considering the alternatives to their decision, and that they will make responsible and informed decisions, considering the impact their choices have on future Badgers.

      Thanks for your comments. Please let us know if you have additional questions.

      1. RecSports, your response is exactly why this vote should not be happening: you haven’t done your due diligence. You are asking the student body to right you a blank check for $223 million dollars without actual plans.

        Why should the student body be forced to vote based solely on artist’s sketches? Use all the pledged money to get actual plans, then we can vote on whether to go forward or not.

      2. Patrick, the plans you see are concepts which could very well develop into formal designs. We are not asking students to vote on design — we are asking students to vote on funding and to decide how/where they want their seg fees to be spent. Should the referendum pass this coming week, the plan must go through several other stages of approval before a formal bidding process would begin.

        Rec Sports has listened to students’ feedback from the time the Master Plan process started — in fact, it was student government who requested we reopen the Master Plan and consider options for improving the facilities. Students requested that the original Nat design (released in the fall) be downsized — we listened. Students requested we keep their financial contributions consistent with the current funding model (less than 60% of the overall cost) — we listened and have guaranteed students would pay no more than 57% of the project funding.

        If students vote to pass the plan, we will continue to engage students in conversations about design. We have already heard that students would like less “free” space based on the current designs. These are the types of conversations we hope to continue with students to ensure that the new facilities reflect students’ feedback (obviously recognizing that we will not be able to meet every individual’s requests).

    1. If students vote to support the Master Plan, the facilities will be closed one at a time for construction. While the SERF is down, the fitness (cardio, strength, and free weights) will be relocated to Ogg Hall right next door to the SERF. Gordon Commons will house some additional programming, and the Natatorium and Shell will remain open during that time. While the Natatorium is being built, the new SERF will be open and Holt Commons and Eagle Heights Community Center will provide alternative workout locations on the Lakeshore side of campus.

      If students do not support the Master Plan, the existing facilities could experience some closures for several months at a time. We would look into providing some alternative workout locations during that time as well.

      Let us know if you have other questions!

  5. Will the new hockey rink be in addition to the Shell or a replacement for it? With all the demand for icetime on campus, there is rarely any open hockey offered during the week, (with minor exceptions only at a few scattered times of the year), only the ridiculously overcrowded Sunday open hockey sessions. Clearly there is a need for at least one more rink (accessible to more than just varsity or club athletes) on campus, if not two more rinks to be able to offer open hockey multiple times of the week on a regular basis to relieve some of the overcrowding we now see.

  6. With the current financial plans placing the majority of the cost for such a project on the students, I cannot vote for this.

    1. We respect your opinion. Please note that if the referendum does not pass, students’ fees will increase immediately (as opposed to when new facilities open) in order to address the infrastructural needs of the current facilities. There will be no gain in space or programming capabilities.

      For more information about your voting options, please visit this page on our site: https://uwmadisonrecsports.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/rec-sports-explains-students-voting-options-yes-vs-no-for-the-master-plan/.

  7. It looks to me in these projected floor plans that there is substantial space being designated to lobby areas and not much designated to expanding cardio workout areas. The courts look nice, but are not beneficial to a large majority of students who just want to go workout on a machine for half-an hour a day. What is the projected maximum capacity for users solely looking for cardiovascular machinery?

    1. Any images you see are concepts only and are meant to show ideas and possibilities rather than finalized layouts. A formal design process will begin pending results of the referendum in March.

    2. I wouldn’t so narrowly limit that concern about priorities only to access to cardio machine areas. Sure, people like to use those machines, but working out on machines is only a very tiny part of a balanced fitness regimen, which requires all kinds of different facilities, swimming pools, hockey rinks, running tracks, and on and on. We should make sure that we don’t waste money on fancy lobbies at the expense of functional spaces. Take a look at the new Sun Prairie ice arena. Sure, it’s a huge improvement over the old rundown arena it replaced and it has two rinks instead of one, but what stands out the most is that is has a big expensive fancy lobby area, yet the player facilities in this brand new “state of the art” arena fall far short of those in local arenas built even 20 years ago. Don’t make the same mistake in the recsports plan.

      1. Thanks so much for your input. We have heard a lot of concerns about the “lobby” and sitting areas so we will certainly be considering those opinions when it comes time for formal design. Right now, we want to merely show options and concepts. But please know that we will continue listening to students’ input throughout the entire planning process. Thanks!

  8. Who does this really benefit in the long run…the university. They are the ones that will be able to charge more for tuition in the future because they have nicer facilities. Really there is little benefit to students, any one student will only be able to benefit for at most five years. Generally, the party benefiting from some upgrade to the degree the university will pays for it. UW rec has a great PR department to make it seem reasonable that the university shouldn’t pay for these upgrades.

    1. Curt, thank you for your comments. The chancellor and UW Foundation have stepped up in a huge way and have committed a significant amount to the total project cost. UW Athletics, the State, and Rec Sports program revenue will also contribute to a minimum of 43% of the overall funding. Students are asked to pay for no more than 57% of the project, a proportion that reflects students’ contribution to the overall Rec Sports budget. Rec Sports was asked by student government to keep this proportion below 60% and we are very pleased to say that we have been able to meet that request. Should additional funding for the project become available, this will continue to decrease the contribution of students.

      1. I agree with Curt. To keep students’ contribution to be below 60% is still a huge part of the cost for this project (simple math obviously shows that if the project is projected to cost $223M and students are covering 57% of that (127,110,000) and there are 15,000 eligible users for the facilities, then that is $8474 that is to be projected over those 15,000 users. That seems unreasonable to me, especially for students that will likely never see the full benefits of their investment during their time here on campus.

      2. We are not asking students to pay for facilities until a new facility opens. 57% reflects students’ current contributions to the overall Rec Sports budget.

  9. I will second what Josh said. I am wondering the exact same thing. As a current student at UW Madison, I really am most interested in what will effect me in the next four years.

      1. Has the actual accounting on this funding been posted somewhere and I’m missing it?

        Here’s my back of the envelope calculation:

        $108 per semester
        $216 per year/student
        43,000 students
        30 years

        $216 x 30 x 43,000 = $278,640,000

        I think RecSports should post how they come to the 57% number they are quoting.

      2. The short answer is that, similar to paying for a new home, the bonds for new facilities will have interest rates that require additional payments beyond the principal amount.

        Rec Sports has stated that student segregated fees will cover no more than 57% of the cost of design and construction. Total project cost is $223 million. The student share of project cost is currently estimated to be $123,450,000, which is actually 55.4% of $223 million.

        Each partner in the project will either pay cash up front or will borrow their funds by issuing bonds. This is similar to financing of the purchase of a home. A portion of the cost will be paid with a cash down payment and the rest will be financed through a “mortgage”. Any partner that issues bonds will, of course, be responsible for paying interest on the bonds in addition to repayment of the principal.

        Gift funds will come in as cash. The State of Wisconsin will issue bonds for their $30 million. Athletics is likely to issue bonds for some or all of their $7 million. Most of the student’s share of $123,450,000 will come from 30-year bonds. After all bonds have been issued, the annual debt service payment for the student share is estimated to be $8.29 million.

        A fee increase of $108 should generate $8.29 million more per year. The “back-of-the-envelope” calculation of $216 times 43,000 would result in $9.3 million more per year. The actual amount is lower because spring enrollment typically drops by 5% compared to fall and part-time students do not pay the full segregated fee. They pay a rate that is based on the number of credits taken. Approximately 16% of students are enrolled less than full-time.

  10. How many years will there be a seg fee increase to fund this upgrade, and how many years would funding be required for the repairs? Seg fees are currently still paying for The Union upgrades as well as the SAC. Secondly, when would the increase in seg fees begin? After the facilities are opened, or immediately? This is a multiple year project, and it wouldn’t seem fair to increase seg fees on order students who would have to deal with facility closures during the upgrades and who won’t be around to use the new ones.

    1. Brad, the projection is that there will be a 30-year bond on the new facilities so the seg fee increase would be in effect that amount of time. As for the seg fee increases needed for repairs, the SERF and Natatorium are 31 and 50 years old, respectively. Any number of ongoing and unforeseen maintenance/repair projects may arise with these facilities, making it difficult for us to predict the amount of time seg fees would be increased. Please also note that seg fees are conservatively predicted to double (at minimum) just to bring these facilities up to the standards of the years they were constructed (1964 for the Natatorium and 1983 for the SERF). Additional increases in segregated fees would be necessary to address programmatic needs (new basketball flooring, lockers, equipment, etc.) and to bring the facilities up to par in terms of sustainable features and practices.

      The seg fee increases for the new facilities are estimated to occur when the facilities open so that students are not paying for a facility they’re not using. However, we do have alternative locations secured during construction (Ogg Hall and Gordon Commons during the SERF construction, and Holt Commons and Eagle Heights during the Natatorium construction). If the referendum does not pass, increases in seg fees will begin immediately to help fund the capital projects.

      Please let us know if you have additional questions.

  11. It would be very helpful in making a decision to know what kind of seg fee increases will take place if the Master Plan is rejected. If the current facilities are repaired, how much will segregated fees go up? From the above description I know that if new facilities are built, the segregated fees will go up by no more than $216 per year. Can you say what the analogous increase would be if students vote for repair rather than new facilities?

    1. Campus Facility Planning & Management conservatively estimates that seg fees could at least double just to address existing maintenance and repair needs… this does not include any space additions or program improvements, as these projects would require seg fees to rise even further.

      1. I’m concerned about the choice that’s being presented in the March vote. Here’s my concern. If the master plan is approved, then segregated fees will not go up until the new facilities are ready to use. But, as I understand it, if the master plan is rejected, then segregated fees will go up *immediately* to pay for repairs. If I’ve gotten the facts right, then I think the choices on the referendum unfairly encourage students to vote for the master plan. If seg fees increase only after the new buildings are ready (on the assumption that the master plan is accepted), then seg fees should increase only after repairs on the existing buildings are completed (on the assumption that the master plan is rejected). Again, what I’m requesting is that the delay in payment apply equally to both options: in both cases, people shouldn’t pay until the product is ready for them to use. If seg fees go up right away to pay for repairs, then students who graduate soon will pay for something they never use.

      2. Josh (and James), you are both understanding the situation correctly. The reason seg fee increases would be minimized (if not fully delayed) until a new facility opens is because we have secured a minimum of 43% of the total project funding for new facilities. If the Master Plan does not pass in the upcoming March vote, those donors would invest no money in the repair/maintenance of the current sites, and seg fees would have to increase to cover those costs. The increases would begin immediately and are predicted to double (at minimum) over the next five years. Current students would still be able to use the facilities while they are being repaired. We understand your point, Josh, and fully appreciate your concerns. We are asking that students consider the fact that these facilities are 30, 40, and 50+ years old and that they have exceeded their usage/life expectancy. Students have the opportunity to decide how their seg fees are invested in the future of the university and what opportunities they want to create for future students. We hope we haven’t confused you further and encourage you to continue bringing your concerns and questions to us directly.

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