It’s a huge building made of Legos. It’s a giant Red Box to rent videos. No, it’s the new Campus Recreation Center, which is now nearing completion and is set to open this semester.

“This has been an exciting project to work on for the past decade and I am looking forward to the opening,” Associate Dean and Director of Student Life Susan DiMonda said in an email.

The $37.5 million center includes an indoor gymnasium with three multi-purpose courts, three group-fitness studios, state-of-the art equipment and machines, locker rooms, places to rent equipment and a 1/10 mile indoor track.

“The new facility will offer so much more space and equipment for strength training and cardiovascular activity,” DiMonda said. “We will have 111 pieces of state-of-the art cardiovascular equipment, many of which will have the capability to connect to the internet and watch television.”

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The ground first broke on the site of the Campus Recreation Center on June 5, 2009. According to a press release, former Stony Brook University President Shirley Strum Kenny and former Vice President Fredrick R. Preston led the groundbreaking. Planning for the facility began in 1999.

“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Associate Director of Campus Recreation Marie Turchiano said in an earlier issue of The Statesman. “Students will finally have a facility that is for them and them alone.”

The facility will open a few weeks into the fall semester. However, the Department of Campus Recreation will still have fitness programs running for students and faculty.

“While we wait a few more weeks before we can access the facility, the Department of Campus Recreation is putting together a full schedule of recreational activities for our students,” Dean of Students Jerrold Stein said in an email. “They’ll be scheduling fitness classes in one of the SAC ballrooms.”

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According to the Campus Recreation website, the new facility has 85,000 square feet of programming space and will be open from 6 a.m. to midnight. The expanded hours of the Campus Recreation Center will not mean that the building will not be maintained.

“We will [have] custodial staff in the building throughout the hours of operation and then from midnight until 6 a.m.; a crew will perform a more comprehensive cleaning while the facility is closed,” DiMonda explained.

The new space, upon completion, will be replacing the Wellness Center in the Student Activities Center and will have the ability to host more gym-going students and larger fitness classes.

According to DiMonda, the zumba, yoga and indoor cycling classes are the most popular at the Wellness Center.

“In the present studio locations we can only accommodate up to 23 participants per class, and unfortunately, last year we turned away nearly 1,000 students due to lack of space,” DiMonda said. “The new facility will enable us accommodate up to three times the amount of participants.”

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“The Wellness Center averaged about 550 participants daily. The busiest times in the center are from 4 to 8 p.m. daily,” DiMonda said. “The new Campus Recreation Center can accommodate over 1500 users per hour, whereas the Wellness Center capacity is 80 users.”

Turchiano also noted that the new larger center will also allow a greater variety of activities.

“We will have a broader range of programming and will be able to think outside the box,” Turchiano said. “It is a building for students.”

The facility will also give intramural and club sports teams more practice space and times, Stein said. He also hopes that the new facility will garner more participants in the teams and give students the opportunity to try new outlets for recreation.

“Also, this fall our sport clubs will be able to practice under the lights on the Soccer Fields north of the stadium and will be able to schedule their weekend games on the grass fields by South P lot,” Stein said.

For students looking for employment, the Department of Campus Recreation is also able to employ more students at the new center than at the Wellness Center.

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“The Department of Campus Recreation has already hired 80 students to work in the Campus Recreation Center. These are all new positions just for operating the facility,” DiMonda said. “Students will also be hired to work intramural contests and for the fitness classes.”

The new facility is expected to become a popular hub of student life upon its opening.

“I think the new Campus Recreation Center will have a profound impact on student life,” Stein said. “It is going to provide evening and weekend social and recreational outlets and opportunities for students, faculty and staff to interact. It will also allow users to lead a healthy and active lifestyle and help reduce stress.”

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