UW SERF closes Friday for construction: students seek alternativ - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UW SERF closes Friday for construction: students seek alternative workout facilities

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MADISON (WKOW)--  UW's Southeast Recreational Facility (SERF) is closing Friday to begin a two-year construction project.

Though UW students say they're looking forward to a new facility, the construction may send students to other workout locations or even private gyms around Madison for the coming years.  

John Horn, UW's Division of Recreational Sports director, says rebuilding the SERF has been considered for years and student driven. 

"The students actually voiced their concerns about it for many years and finally a student organization, back in 2012, was formed and started the process by which we really investigated these facilities and the need," Horn says.

Though the SERF, built in 1983, isn't tremendously old, it has faced a number of capacity, maintenance, and design issues. 

"The building wasn't designed to handle over 750,000 people a year and that's what we've been averaging for several years now," Horn says. "There's been over 20 million people that used the facility since 1983 and I don't think it was designed or constructed for that use." 

The new facility will meet student demands for an "increase in fitness, wellness and strength facilities" by expanding cardio spaces, weight rooms, basketball courts and even the pool, according to Horn.

"I look forward to seeing the new SERF," says Trevin Geier, UW-Madison Junior. Geier says he works out frequently at the SERF and will miss the facility. "The memories, the memories you know, my boy Derek... we've been getting gains on the bench press."  

Those seeking a workout in the interim can visit the Shell, the Natatorium or the temporary gym set up in Frederic Ogg Residence Hall. 

"I'm just hoping it's big enough," says UW student Derek Sell.

Concerns over space have some students and faculty members shifting to off-campus gyms. Andy Haugen, Princeton Club president, says they've seen an increase in students coming to their gyms.

"A lot of the students already do choose to utilize our facilities but we have seen an uptick in usage and traffic from the students based on it," Haugen says. 

However, the transition to off-campus gyms may be temporary. Horn says he expects the student population using the workout facility to nearly double when the new building fully opens in 2020. 

"SERF's been a great place for me and I'm sad to see it close," Geier says. "But I'm excited to see what the new SERF has to offer." 

The new facility is estimated to cost $96.7 million and will include five, highly-visible stories so "whether you are inside or outside the building you can see the activity in the building and inspire people to want to be inside the building," Horn says. 

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