After 15 months of construction and years of dreaming and planning, the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex (AARC) will open next week, with an open house on Tuesday, Aug. 31, and the first opportunity to use the building on Wednesday, Sept. 1.
Please join Athletics Director Steve Fritz outside the east entrance (Murray-Herrick Campus Center side) of the complex at noon Tuesday, Aug. 31. Before cutting the ribbon to open the building, he will give a few comments about the new facility and what it means to the university.
All faculty, staff, students and community members are welcome to come into the building until 6 p.m. that day. This will be an open house for people to walk through and see what the next level of recreational athletics, varsity athletics and the academic Health and Human Performance Department will look like at St. Thomas.
Starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1, the complex will be open for business in the cardio and weightlifting areas. Locker facilities also will be available for use. The aquatic center will open Wednesday, Sept. 8.
Undergraduate students will have free access to the fitness areas with their St. Thomas ID card. Memberships will be available to graduate and professional students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. Faculty and staff will able to eliminate the membership fees if they use the complex a certain number of times each month. Alumni and community membership programs will begin Oct. 1.
Points of interest include:
- The field house, which has twice the cubic feet of the prior one.
- The aquatic center and its “wicked fast” pool, as swimming coach Tom Hodgson refers to it.
- The new Schoenecker Arena, with a 25 percent increase in spectator capacity and a third-floor mezzanine.
- The cardio area, with 80-plus pieces of various equipment, including 24 treadmills.
- The weight room, with 60-plus pieces of equipment, including both machine and free weights.
- Two aerobic rooms where classes for an additional fee will be held throughout each semester. These could include aerobics, yoga, spinning and boot camp.
- Locker room facilities. “Impressive” is the word people have used over and over.
- Amazing video boards, scoreboards and display boards throughout the building.
- The new location of the Health and Human Performance Department with its expanded and improved exercise physiology and biomechanics laboratories.
All undergraduate students with a valid St. Thomas ID will have free access and use of the fitness areas, while faculty and staff will need to sign up for a AARC fitness center membership.
“The funding plan for the building has always included additional revenue from memberships, outside rentals and corporate sponsorships,” said Jane Canney, vice president for Student Affairs. “The projected funding from these activities has allowed us to build this building in a way that the entire campus can be proud.”
Memberships will be nominally priced relative to other local alternatives and will include a limited number of memberships for alumni and neighbors. Individual faculty and staff memberships will be $30 per month, payable only up front on a semester basis;
- Fall semester (September-January): $150
- Spring semester (February-May): $120
- Summer (June-August): $90
These membership fees can be reduced to $0 with the expansion of the St. Thomas Wellness program. At the end of the semester, faculty and staff who are medical-benefit eligible will receive a rebate of $30 for each month they used the facilities 12 days or more. Payroll deduction is not available for these memberships.
Graduate and professional students, alumni and neighbors will have varying membership rates. A table will be set up and staffed in the building during the Tuesday open house from noon to 6 p.m. to hand out materials and discuss membership details.
“Medical costs for the university and insurance premiums for individuals and families continue to increase at double-digit rates on an annual basis,” said Edna Comedy, associate vice president for Human Resources. “This new building will allow our faculty and staff unparalleled access to outstanding facilities and the opportunity to improve their health and mitigate expected increases in medical costs for the university and their own health-care premiums.”
In addition, for those employees who already belong to a fitness center, work in Minneapolis or for some reason do not want to join the new AARC Fitness Center, a new benefit program will start this January with the new medical-plan period. This new benefit will provide a $20 rebate to employees who use most other fitness centers 12 days per month. “We are pleased that all employees will be financially encouraged to work out and maintain a healthy lifestyle,” says Comedy.
In addition to these fitness programs, a new and more comprehensive university wellness program called “Wellness U” will be rolled out with the start of school this fall … more to come!
For those who choose not to purchase an AARC Fitness Center membership, the recently renovated McCarthy Gym on the south campus will be available at no cost. The renovation includes a new cardio room, weightlifting room, new locker rooms and an additional wood floor gym.