JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville State University’s new recreation center is open, after two years of construction and anticipation, offering myriad amenities to students, faculty and alumni.
The recreation facility sits on Pelham Road at the southern end of JSU’s campus. The $39 million center has a modern design with massive glass facades that accent the building’s many amenities.
Students outside the facility Tuesday and Wednesday said they weren’t bothered by the $190 fee added to their bill every semester to pay for the new recreation center. They said they saw it as a worthwhile investment.
Only JSU students, faculty and alumni are allowed use the facility on a regular basis. Students can enter free of charge, thanks to the fee. Faculty can pay $32 a month or $345 a year, while alumni can pay $42 a month or $453 a year to get in. Once there, they’ll have access to an indoor pool, basketball courts, a rock-climbing wall, exercise equipment and even a Starbucks, among other features. Operation hours vary according to whether it’s a weekend or a weekday.
“I’ll probably come here every day,” senior criminal justice major Brandon Williams said Tuesday. “I wish I had this when I first got here. I enjoy it and I’m happy they have started the regular hours and I can come here at any time.”
When the gym at Stephenson Hall closed, Williams said, he didn’t have a place to work out, so he’s happy that he has a gym again.
“I’ll be using the rec center mainly for working out, shooting basketball and maybe a little swimming,” Williams said.
He said he paid no attention to the fee and thinks the new facility justifies the cost.
“I don’t think they should have charged every student the fee because not everyone will use the rec center, but I do think it’s worth the cost,” Carol Hightower, a sophomore marketing major, said on Wednesday. “I’ve already been a couple times, but I feel bad for people who don’t want to use it and have to pay anyway.”
She said she’s glad she’ll be able to take advantage of the new center for a few years before she graduates.
Junior education major Danielle Jones says she doesn’t mind the fee since the recreation center offers “so much.” She said she’s excited about the new facility and all the free classes that will be offered.
“I’ve heard there will be a lot of free fitness classes there in the future,” she said Wednesday. “I’m excited about the spin classes. My apartment complex has a pool, but having an indoor pool will be awesome.”
The new recreation center will host a variety of intramural sports for the spring semester including basketball, wallyball, indoor soccer, racquetball, indoor volleyball, dodgeball and even sports video games like FIFA, Madden and NBA 2K.
Students weren’t the only ones excited for the new recreation center. Nursing instructor Jesi Lankford moved to Jacksonville in the fall semester and thinks the new facility is “awesome.” She said Tuesday was her first time at the center, and she used a treadmill and an elliptical machine.
“I’m interested in the spin classes, but I haven’t done one yet,” she said.
Lankford thinks the fee is “great” and isn’t too expensive considering all the center has to offer.
“I went to UAB and their rec center is very similar to this,” she said, “so I think it will be great for the students and the employees as well.”