By Patrick Cooley, Sports Editor
Joe Kaminski calls it the “wow” factor, and that seems to be the best way to describe UNO’s newly remodeled and expanded Health Physical Education and Recreation building.
“I made it a point to watch people enter for four days in a row at different times in the day, and I can tell you we really achieved the ‘wow’ factor,” said Kaminski, the director of campus recreation at UNO. “When you’re driving up to it, you go, ‘Wow, I didn’t think it was this big!'”
The building, which has served as home for UNO student recreation and physical education classes for the past three decades, underwent a major face-lift just in time for the 2010-2011 school year.
In addition to renovating 150,000 square feet of existing space, the renovation added nearly 90,000 square feet of additional space. The $38.6 million project, which broke ground in October 2008, was completed in time for this school year.
Among the highlights of the renovation and expansion project are a juice bar/café; indoor soccer field; expanded, elevated running track; nearly 20 cardio machines with built in cable television; and a jaw-dropping 22-person hot tub complete with a big screen TV.
“We visited a number of facilities around the country and tried to take the best features of each and incorporate those features into what we offered,” explained Kaminski.
According to Dave Daniels, assistant director for Fitness/Wellness & Instructional Programs, the facility has added nearly $520,000 worth of new equipment, including 75 pieces of strength equipment and 72 pieces of cardio equipment.
While the project has led to a $95 increase in student fees, many see it as one more example of UNO shaking off its reputation as a mere commuter school often nicknamed “Dodge High.”
“It’s one more step to being what folks consider a traditional campus,” Kaminski said. “The No. 4 reason for choosing a university is recreational facilities, and we see this as a recruiting tool not just for athletes, but for the general student population.”
UNO sophomore Tyler Kopietz sees the upgrade as one more example of his school’s rise.
“[UNO] keeps expanding and making itself better. [UNO] is no longer just the other Nebraska school.”