CRCE opens doors

Online Poster

By Nick Escobar

The newly renovated Campus Recreation Center East (CRCE) officially opened Wednesday, giving students a place that offers a variety of ways to get in shape while enjoying a relaxing atmosphere.

CRCE will now offer a greater variety of activities in its 110,000-square foot building, including three basketball courts, a 5,000-square foot multipurpose room and three glass-encased racquetball courts that also accommodate squash players. The new Multi-Activity Court provides an area for a number of sports, including dodge ball, soccer, in-line hockey and badminton.

The multipurpose room will also hold fitness and dance classes seven days a week. CRCE users can buy a $3 pass to participate in a class for one day or a $30 pass for the remainder of the semester.

There are also 400 lockers outside of the locker rooms by the basketball courts and behind the Multi-Activity Court (MAC).

On the newly built 10,000-square foot mezzanine floor, people can watch television while using treadmills or other exercise equipment. Also, a one-eighth-mile track overlooks the basketball courts and runs above a section of the pool that contains a 35-foot tall waterfall and an erupting volcano.

The pool will be used for physical therapy classes as well as water exercises and programs to learn how to swim. The pool also contains a spa, waterslide, a zero-depth entry for handicapped persons, and a specialized wheelchair for entry to further encourage a social atmosphere.

“This pool will compliment what’s going to be at IMPE,” said Steve Jukes, assistant director of aquatics for the Department of Campus Recreation. “We’ll have something for everyone.”

The building has undergone a technical renovation as well. Nine video screens will show movies and Illini sports.

Even the lockers in the locker room now use a four-digit computer code that each person creates. The locker’s computer remembers the last code entered before it is locked. Then the person must re-enter that code to retrieve their items. No keys are involved, and every code is different.

Locker rooms come with a water extractor, eight individual showers – two of which are handicap accessible – and special changing rooms for women.

Ed Morford, assistant director of risk management and aquatics at the Division of Campus Recreation, said the Division of Campus Recreation hopes that CRCE will attract a diverse crowd that will use the gym as a place to socialize as well as work out.

Some students got the opportunity to use the improved facility Tuesday night before the official opening. Erin Chiou, freshman in LAS, and Justin Chiu, senior in LAS, said they were very impressed with the facility after touring the facility that night.

Chiou said the location of the building works better for her.

“For PAR, FAR and Allen kids it’s so much better,” Chiou said. “If I want to go to IMPE I have to set aside an hour, and if I want to go at night I have to take the 22 which goes all the way around before it gets there.”

For students who had to wait until the official opening day, 6:30 a.m. could not come fast enough.

Tahir Hafeez, graduate student, and several of his friends camped out in front of CRCE’s doors Tuesday night to be the first inside on the official opening day. The group set up a tent and brought along a laptop to keep themselves entertained.

However, only Hafeez made it through the night and was one of the first people to walk into CRCE. He celebrated by shooting a basket in each of the six hoops.

Hafeez was not the only person who wanted to be one of first to try out the new facility. More than 30 students from Allen Residence Hall also woke up early to be among the first users of CRCE.

Jon Schlesinger, freshman in LAS, was one of the first people to use CRCE and said the building was amazing.

“It’s nice to have new equipment and you can do so many things here,” he said.

The University’s original plans stated that IMPE would close once CRCE reopened to the public in January. But because CRCE did not open until this week, and due to snags in the bidding for IMPE’s renovation contract, IMPE will now remain open for the rest of the semester. The re-bidding for IMPE improvements will begin soon.

Gary Miller, associate director of operations at the Division of Campus Recreation, said he believes IMPE will close during the summer after the Board of Trustees agrees to terms of a new contract. Miller said IMPE will remain closed until late 2007 when the renovations are scheduled to be complete.

Morford said the services offered at CRCE will be added to and expanded upon three-fold at IMPE. But he said the CRCE renovations appear to be a success.

“Looking at the building, and the reaction from the students, I would say that we really hit it on the head,” Morford said.