Rec Sports responds to news article, pool questions

The Master Plan calls for renovations at the existing SERF pool.
The Master Plan calls for renovations at the existing SERF pool.

A recent article in The Daily Cardinal caused some confusion among readers regarding the funding of the Master Plan and issues surrounding a competition pool at the SERF. Rec Sports hopes to clarify those concerns here. Also included is the official campus statement regarding the competition pool.

Rec Sports has secured at least 43% of funding from alternative sources, including gifts,the State, UW Athletics, and Rec Sports program revenues.
Rec Sports has secured at least 43% of funding from alternative sources, including gifts,the State, UW Athletics, and Rec Sports program revenues.

Funding: The article states that  “funding for the plan relies solely on student segregated fees”. From the beginning stages of developing the Master Plan, students requested that seg fees account for no more than 60% of the project and Rec Sports has succeeded in satisfying this request, with alternative sources accounting for at least 43% of the overall funding needed.

Competition pool: In developing design concepts for the Master Plan, the Division of Recreational Sports considered several options for the SERF that included a competition pool and other options that did not. Although Rec Sports understands the potential future impact and benefits of a competition pool on campus, a facility of this magnitude and purpose that directly benefits athletic programs is not necessarily included in the mission of a recreational sports program that prioritizes the needs of the general student user. 

A large number of students, including members of student government, who engaged in early conversations with Rec Sports clearly expressed that they would not support a plan in which students are responsible for funding 100% of a competition pool. These students indicated their desire for alternative sources to fund at least half of the total pool facility cost (currently estimated at $23-$27 million). Because no additional funding sources are available at this time, Rec Sports has anticipated that students will not support a SERF model that includes a competition pool and has moved forward with a plan that includes renovations to the existing pool. A new recreational and instructional pool is included in the Natatorium plans, satisfying the Division’s mission of providing these types of spaces to its participants.

Should additional gift funding become available for a competition pool at the SERF prior to the design process, the competition pool could be considered with no additional financial impact on students.

Pool concept at the new Natatorium site includes eight lap lanes and instructional/recreational space.
Pool concept at the new Natatorium site includes eight lap lanes and instructional/recreational space.

UW-MADISON STATEMENT ON REC SPORTS FACILITIES PLAN

The Division of Recreational Sports (“Rec Sports”) recently unveiled a facilities master plan that would encompass approximately $200 million in much-needed Rec Sports-related facilities improvements.

The Rec Sports master plan initially included a 50-meter competition swimming pool and diving well. Following through on that option was contingent upon students funding at least $13 million of the facility, combined with additional sources committing to funding the other half of what is currently estimated to be at least a $26 million cost.

At this point, no additional funding has become available. As a result, Rec Sports is moving forward with an option for the SERF plan that it feels students will support in a Spring Referendum. The plan will still address the space demands of Rec Sports’ 1.7 million annual uses, including 83 percent of the student body.

A unique arrangement allows the UW swimming teams to use the Natatorium for a competition pool and the SERF for practice. As part of the master plan process, the Natatorium pool will be taken offline in 2019.

UW Athletics is not in a position to be able to fund the other half of a competition pool component at the SERF.

The department is just about to complete the fourth of four major facility projects at a cost of approximately $125 million. Included in these projects are a new swimming locker room, lounge space and support facilities as well as the Student-Athlete Performance Center that will benefit all UW-Madison student-athletes, including swimmers.

The athletic department supports its swimming and diving student-athletes just like it supports its other 21 sports with high level academic, sports medicine, strength and conditioning and nutritional staff.

Athletics has also made clear its commitment to the swimming and diving programs by making a financial commitment to the maintenance and substantial upgrade of the pool that currently exists at the SERF.

The department already is committed to the maintenance of a substantial number of existing facilities but cannot increase its indebtedness by financially committing to this project.

We appreciate your interest and input and it will be shared with UW-Madison campus leadership.

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2 thoughts on “Rec Sports responds to news article, pool questions

  1. “Rec Sports has anticipated that students will not support a SERF model that includes a competition pool”

    That’s because they assumed the athletic department would pick up the rest of the tab for the pool they would get the usage out of. What they don’t understand is whole “indebtedness” argument is a smoke screen. The UWAD is not going to put in one cent into any facility they don’t have complete control of no matter how financially solvent they are. So it’s really up to the students. UW Rec. needs to go back and ask them again if this is their stance now that they know what the true situation is. And this should also be pointed out: There are no diving wells at SERF. How are UW divers supposed to train in Madison without platform or springboard dives like there are at the Nat. (which, as you say, which will be taken offline in 2019)? I know it may seem like a raw deal, but if UW students really want to show some school spirit and help their fellow students out, they need to support a competition pool on campus. They had their chance NAT Up and blew it. They can’t let this pass them by again.

  2. The “no funding sources at this time” thing keeps coming up. But how are supporters of the swimming program at UW supposed to raise that funding if they are not given time to do so. Plans should include a competition pool in the final drawings, and there should be ample time given for fundraising efforts before moving forward with the project. It is understandable that the students should not have to fund the entire pool, but to just take away the facility at the SERF and not give the swim program a chance to survive is unfair.

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