The New Home for Lancer Recreation: The Inside Scoop on the $73 million Project
by: Justin Peters
Despite the delays, deferrals, postponements and cancellations the University community has faced as a result of the pandemic, construction on the Lancer Sport and Recreation Centre (LSRC) is well underway and could provide some much-needed optimism for students, staff and faculty. The inauguration of the $73 million athletic centre is set for spring 2022.
The development of the LSRC experienced a 27-day delay at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, but has since made up for the lost time and is expected to open its doors to the public in May of 2022, on schedule. The new facility, which has a student referendum contribution of $53 million, will be the crown jewel of the University’s campus experience. Equipped with a student lounge, food services, expanded playing surfaces, and greater seating capacities; the 173,000 square foot facility will seek to increase student engagement through a variety of programming and experiential opportunities.
“We will be able to run all varsity and community events while still providing opportunities for our students to recreate, helping their mental health and physical wellbeing,” said Jess Dixon, the acting Dean of Human Kinetics.
Although the focus is on the opening of the facility, its impact on the campus community will be far more lasting according to Dixon.
“These facilities are in place to provide a legacy for our campus and community. We’re scratching the surface of what is possible for future events and programming,” Dixon said.
Despite the progress on construction, the project has faced some hurdles due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fundraising efforts and the rising costs of materials have impacted certain elements of the project’s capacity and programming. Dixon maintains that these challenges have not been insurmountable to achieving the vision and expectations of the new facility.
“From a financial standpoint, some foundations who would normally contribute have decided that the focus of their funds is not on capital projects at this time, it’s going to be on contributing to health-related issues the community is currently facing,” Dixon said.
Nevertheless, upon completion, the LSRC project is going to improve the student experience in more ways than one.
“It’s going to be spectacular.” Athletic Director Mike Havey said. “It will be a much more intimate and exciting space to watch a game in.”
Dixon listed several tangible benefits associated with the development of new student space, including opportunities to host future Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and international competitions. He also noted how on-campus employment capacities will be enhanced based on the LSRC.
“There will be more [job] opportunities for employment moving forward for our student body, whether that’s being a coordinator of an intramural program or an official, being a lifeguard, offering swim lessons, it’s really an exciting time for our faculty,” Dixon said.
Havey forecasts the LSRC as a “new social hub of activity” for the members of the University community to utilize on a daily basis. Havey described it as a “student centre in the south of campus.”
Havey suggests the value that the new athletic centre will have not just on the University of Windsor, but the greater Windsor-Essex community as well.
“We’re going to continue to have an open gateway between the University and the community and be able to invite the community in to host events in our spaces,” Havey said.
Havey was quick to note the primary goal of the new athletic centre is focused on servicing its most important clientele, the students attending the University of Windsor. The Athletic Director emphasized the point that accessibility for the student body has been the priority of the LSRC since breaking ground on the project in 2019.
The Lancers’ new home for athletics and recreation is projected to be centre that fosters competition, camaraderie, and experiential opportunities for the entire student body to enjoy. Linda Andrejicka, the Campaign Specialist for the LSRC development, says there’s much to look anticipate in the months and years ahead.
“This is an enormous opportunity for UWindsor and our community, it’s not just about sports, it’s about health and wellness. This is going to be the catalyst for our community and make Windsor a viable, modern university moving into the future.”