The Michigan State University Board of Trustees has approved plans for a $200 million student recreation and wellness center on the East Lansing campus that could be a first step in the potential reinstatement of its swim and dive team.
The Lansing State Journal reports that the 293,000-square-foot student wellness center would offer multiple gymnasiums, courts, a turf arena, indoor running track, exercise studios, a 50-meter pool, two classrooms and locker rooms. It would replace the aging IM West recreation facility.
Members of the MSU swim and dive movement, who have continued to pressure the board since the program's dissolution in 2020, expressed support for the project, specifically the proposed 50-meter recreational pool.
Mike Balow, father of a former MSU swim and dive athlete, noted that the pool would be similar to the facilities used by University of Virginia, the current women's swimming and diving national champions.
"It's been way too long that a campus of 50,000 students in the Big Ten has (recreation) facilities that are substandard," he said. Balow said the main reason for the program's disbandment in 2020 was the lack of adequate facilities − but if this project comes to fruition, Balow hopes it could come with the reinstatement of the program.
Trustees had previously been pessimistic about the program's future at the university.
"We do not see a viable path to establish a swim and dive program," former trustee Melanie Foster said at the Board's December 2022 meeting. "Most prohibitively, without sufficient existing fundraising, there is not a path to build a new competition pool without assessing a fee to the entire student body, something we do not wish to do."
It is unclear when the proposal shifted to include a pool.
Some speakers expressed their disapproval of the plans.
Urvil Patel, a MSU graduate who was president of the men's club volleyball team this past year, said he didn't agree with the university's plans to build the facility with fewer multipurpose courts than now exist in IM West.
Architectural renderings presented by the university show six courts compared with IM West's eight. The facility would also contain two indoor turf fields.
Patel said intramural sports teams and non-IM individuals already experience significant wait times on the IM West courts.
The project would be paid for by the student recreational facility fee, which was instituted in 2021. The fee, which began at $100 per year, has increased to $260 per year,
The construction manager is Granger Construction Co. and the architects are Rossetti Architects and Moody Nolan.