ECU breaks ground for SRC

(Jan. 19, 1994)   —   East Carolina University officials held a ceremony this week to start construction on the new Student Recreation Center. The project, when completed, will give ECU one of the largest and best equipped recreation and fitness centers in the country. 

“It will take up almost three-and-a-half acres,” said Dr. George Harrell, the head of Facilities Services for ECU. From end-to-end the building will be longer than a football field. It will be wider too.

“This building and Minges Coliseum have the largest footprints on campus,” Harrell said. “The recreation center’s footprint might even be a little bigger than the coliseum’s,” he added. That makes the building a “big foot” indeed. 

When completed in November of 1995, the $17 million recreation center will contain 150,000 sq. ft. of basketball and racquet courts, a weight room, two swimming pools and an assortment of other multi-purpose rooms and features. Student fees will cover the construction costs. For example, on the first floor there are six basketball courts. There is also a weight room that consumes 11,000 sq. ft. of space. The indoor and outdoor swimming pools use space too. There are also offices, locker rooms, showers, and equipment storage areas on the ground level.

One of the most noticed features on the second floor is a track for fitness running. Upstairs there are also eight handball and racquetball courts and other areas for aerobics and dance. A rock climbing wall will take up some of the second floor as well.

“I never dreamed we would have a student recreation center like this when I was a student,” said Phillip R. Dixon, a Greenville attorney and member of the ECU Board of Trustees. Dixon spoke during a ground breaking ceremony for the building Tuesday.

His comments were echoed by other ECU officials and by current and former members of the ECU Student Government Association. Following the speeches, the officials used shovels on a portion of ground that was formally a parking lot on the west end of the main campus. “We have to dig deeper,” Chancellor Richard R. Eakin told the party that was ceremonially shoveling spades of dirt. “This is where the pool is going in,” he teased. Following the ground breaking, Eakin and other officials took shots at a portable basketball goal. The goal was set up at the site to symbolically represent the student activities planned for the new building.

Currently ECU students use the old Christenbury Gym for recreational basketball, aerobics, swimming and other activities. The gym was built in 1951 when there were only about 3,000 students on campus. Today’s enrollment at ECU is nearly 18,000. “This will be the premier student recreation center in the country,” Dr. Alfred Matthews, vice chancellor of Student Life, said during the ceremony. “It will provide an unmeasurable enhancement to student life at ECU,” he said.

Charles P. Cox, the assistant director of Recreational Services, said the building contains all the “bells and whistles.” “Everything we wanted will be in the building,” he said.

Nance Mize, the director of Recreational Services, described the new recreation center as “a commitment to the development of healthy lifestyles.” She said planning for the new building began seven years ago.