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Press Release

Barbara Laskin

Ceremonial Groundbreaking for New Macalester Athletic and Recreation Center

St. Paul, Minn. - The public is invited to the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new Macalester College Athletic and Recreation Center, at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 5, 2006, on the west side of the Leonard Natatorium on Snelling Avenue, which is where the new gym will be located.

The Macalester Athletic and Recreation Center, one of the most heavily used venues on campus, will be expanded and improved through a more than $40 million project that will begin in winter 2007 and be completed in fall 2008.  

"It's great,” said Annie Borton '07, soccer and basketball player from Berkeley, Calif.
“The new facility will allow access to athletes and non-athletes alike. There will be more space and it's a great addition. It's nice to see that kind of support for athletes and students."

More than 70 percent of the college's current students use Macalester's athletic and recreation facilities, most of which were built 80 years ago for far fewer users.

"Varsity athletes are already active so you want to get the rest of the campus active and having good facilities helps with that," said Arsalan Asam '07, Minneapolis, Minn., who is one of hundreds of students who work out regularly to relieve stress, keep fit and stay focused. "The semester I got the best grades was the semester I worked out the most."

The new facility will include welcoming and flexible facilities for fitness, wellness and educational programs; improved training and competition areas for varsity athletics; and inviting spaces where students and other community members can gather to socialize and to cheer on the Scots. 

"Learning doesn't just take place in the classroom or the lab, but in the gym, the workout room and the athletic field,” said Macalester President Brian Rosenberg. “Students want colleges that are strong communities, and an athletic and recreation center is one of the venues that helps form community at Macalester."

The facilities are being designed by Hastings and Chivetta, a full-service architectural firm based in St. Louis. The firm is recognized nationally for its work on college athletic and recreation facilities. Minneapolis-based environmental building consultant Intep is incorporating the “green” adaptations that minimize energy use and environmental impact.

"The new center will serve the needs of the greater campus community, from varsity sports to club and intramural offerings, from students to staff, from faculty to alumni,” said Travis Feezell, Macalester’s Athletics Director. “We believe it will change the way we think about recreation and wellness. But most importantly, we believe it will impact and shape our students in the best traditions of the liberal arts."

Macalester's planned facilities will signal a new level of commitment to well-being and to athletics, not only in comparison with Macalester's current space but in comparison with new facilities at other colleges:

  • A larger field house will accommodate four multipurpose courts and a 200-meter indoor track.
  • A performance gym for basketball and volleyball will seat 1,200 to 1,600 spectators, making it eligible to host NCAA national tournament competitions.
  • Aerobics, Pilates, weight training and other activities will enjoy about triple their current space. A large fitness and multipurpose area will provide equipment and programs in a flexible space that can be reconfigured as needs change over the years.
  • The Leonard Natatorium will be rebuilt with 8-10 lanes and will include the most up-to-date timing equipment.
  • A juice bar and an inviting lounge area will provide a new gathering place where self-perceived "jocks" and "non-jocks" can mix in an athletics-friendly context.
  • Wellness and Health Services will be incorporated in to the new space and will take in to account a more holistic approach to well being

Kofi Annan, 1961 Macalester graduate and soccer, track & field, and table tennis standout said, "You learn from books, from the professors.... On the athletic field you learn to accept discipline, you learn to play by rules.... There is a learning opportunity in every situation."

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 1,884 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.