St. Denis Centre to expand in 2015

University brass has announced last week that it intends to expand the St. Denis Centre in order to better compete with the top schools across Southern Ontario.

Mike Specht

Sports Editor

University brass has announced last week that it intends to expand the St. Denis Centre in order to better compete with the top schools across Southern Ontario.

In the past decade rival schools Western, McMaster, and Guelph have all built top of the line athletics facilities. The University of Windsor administration feels that it should soon be the time for the St. Denis Centre to receive a similar facelift in order to better compete for incoming student dollars.

“Winning has to be something much more than just avoiding loss,” said university president Alan Wildeman. “Victory has to be a reward for changing what we do.”

The updates include a new competition gym to be used strictly for varsity sports, leaving the existing courts open for recreation, a new swimming pool equipped with a therapy pool as well as increasing the space of the forge by roughly three times.

The proposal would add nearly 150,000 square feet to the facility and would also include classrooms and multipurpose rooms to bring more students to the seldom used south side of campus.

“Something like this is really big to attract students to come here.  Having a big athletics facility is the trend for universities in Ontario, lots of school are building them.  The rationale is it’s not just for the varsity sports teams but to attract students over our other competitors because we are competing with other universities in Ontario and a top end athletics facility is something students look for,” said University of Windsor Student Alliance (UWSA) president Rob Crawford.

Though it has become the trend across Ontario universities to have a top notch athletics facility, funding for the project does pose a problem for the St. Denis expansion. Unlike the parking structure which was funded by a third party, and leased to the University; a large portion of the expansion will come from tuition dollars.  Which if it anything like the construction at Western or Guelph could run upwards of $50 million.

Typically for an expansion like this to come out of students pockets a referendum would have to be run, and it is no different for Windsor.  The school plans to take the proposal to a vote next fall, and should it pass construction would start in the summer of 2015 and completed by approximately summer of 2017.

“We would run referendum for students but it would be conditional.  The University would have to close the gap on funding, it cannot be totally funded by students.  When St. Clair did their’s, they received about $11 million from the government, so what we’re saying is we need to start looking at alternative means of funding, and then we’ll run a referendum, not vice-versa,” said Crawford.

Working in favour of the University is the fact that students at Windsor do pay significantly less than the provincial average for athletics and recreational service funding. An increase to meet or exceed the provincial standard would provide UWindsor students with a facility to be proud of and call their own.

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