A new student athletic academic center opens as the final piece of an $86-million project that has kept Camp Randall under construction for over two years.
"We wanted it to be the hub of student-athlete life," said Jason Holtman, assistant athletic director for academic services.
The doors of the two-story academic facility at the north end zone of Camp Randall are now open.
"This is more like a penthouse luxury living," said Leonard Manning, a senior rower and one of the nearly 800 student athletes on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
"One of the first students I talked to, I said, ‘What do you think?' and he said, ‘I don't think I am ever going to leave,'" Holtman said. "We are very happy with the finished project, and we wanted to have a place where our students could come and go."
The facility has several study rooms, academic advisers and a computer lab, but the most noticeable features are the windows.
"When you walk up to this building, that is what you see," Holtman said.
The old academic center opened its doors in 1997 and was in the windowless basement of the McClain Center.
"To see the light of day, to know what happens between eight and five, from a weather standpoint, it’s pretty good," Holtman said.
"This is top of the line. It was kind of eye-opening when I first got here and saw the place," Manning said.
The building may be eye-opening but the mission is simple.
"Our mission is for our student athletes to be as successful as possible, and one of the things it culminates in is graduation," Holtman said.
Holtman said taxpayer dollars were not used in the three-phase $86-million project; $37 million came from gifts for the athletic department, and the rest was covered by state-issued bonds.
The football team got new locker rooms a year ago, and the athletic training and sports medicine areas were upgraded and expanded.
Holtman said they are still putting on finishing touches and will use student feedback to make things even better.