Unique facilities or amenities — such as a ropes course facility, lazy river or dedicated gaming area — aren’t absolutely critical for success in campus recreation, but if you’re looking for a good way to generate more interest and higher revenue for your recreation department, you should consider designing and integrating a new facility or feature that breaks the norm.
Here, Matt Seibring, the associate director of campus recreation at Illinois State University, shares benefits gained, challenges overcome and his experiences in adding unique facilities to a rec center’s offerings:
CR: How can rec centers best go about adding unique facilities?
MS: The first thing someone should do is find out the needs of the student population and university community. It is important to ensure the money being invested in your rec center is going toward something that will fulfill student needs, as well as embrace and champion your university’s values.
CR: What benefits can unique facilities yield for rec centers?
MS: In our experience, students have been excited about the new space and are often asking questions to learn how they can participate. Most of the usage thus far has been student organizations. That being said, we have also hosted activities for community organizations and youth groups.
CR: What sort of challenges can rec centers expect when implementing unique facilities?
MS: There are always challenges and surprises when trying to build a facility. Obviously, one needs to acquire the funds to make it happen. Since funding is often a challenge, I would encourage people to look for partnerships and be creative when doing so. For some universities, that partnership may be within the institution, with areas such as an academic unit or athletics. For other universities, that partnership may be with the local park department or other community organization.