Ratner will open doors to University community on MondayBy Dave Hilbert
Sports Information Office
The Gerald Ratner Athletics Center, the University’s new 150,000-square-foot athletic and recreational facility, is tentatively scheduled to open its doors to the campus community Monday, Sept. 29. Designed by famed architect Cesar Pelli, the facility is the University’s first new athletic center in more than 60 years.
The $51 million athletic center was built in response to both the age of the University’s existing facilities and a substantial growth in demand for athletic facilities, said Tom Weingartner, Chairman of Physical Education & Athletics. With its fitness center, gymnasiums and 50-meter swimming pool, the new center will be invaluable to the University’s varsity sports athletes, Weingartner said. The swimming and diving team, for instance, can practice in the first new pool to be built on campus after the 20-yard-long pool in Ida Noyes Hall was constructed in 1916.
The center also will vastly expand the University’s ability to support its other varsity sports teams, as well as the 40 sport clubs, over 1,000 physical education students and the intramural sports program, which last year fielded 340 different teams.
Perhaps most important, though, the Ratner Athletics Center responds to the growing demand for daily fitness facilities. “It’s a different world from 30 years ago,” said Weingartner, who noted that the number of students, staff and faculty members who work out regularly has grown substantially over the past generation. The Ratner Athletics Center is expected to become the second most heavily used building on campus, Weingartner said, the first being the Joseph Regenstein Library.
The staff at the Office of College Admissions is especially pleased about the opening of the center. Prospective students-having grown accustomed to regular workouts and fitness centers at their high schools-increasingly consider fitness facilities when choosing between institutions, said Ted O’Neill, Dean of Admissions in the College. In past years, O’Neill said, ‘Chicago’s fitness center wasn’t in the ďabsolutely great’ category; now it is.”
In addition to the new swimming pool and the fitness center, the center will feature competition and auxiliary gymnasiums, a dance room, classrooms, the Athletics Hall of Fame, a juice bar, locker rooms, offices, saunas, and an equipment checkout program. During the academic year, the facility will be open from 6 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. Facilities memberships, which may be purchased at the Ratner Athletics Center beginning Monday, Sept. 29, are available for University and hospital faculty, staff, alumni and retirees, as well as spouses and children.
Options include 12-month and three-month memberships, both of which are valid from the date of purchase. A free one-week trial membership also will be available, and those who purchase 12-month memberships before Friday, Oct. 31, will receive one year of free towel service.
Registered University students receive facilities memberships at no charge and are admitted to the facilities with a valid Chicago Card.
The Myers-McLoraine swimming pool is among the most anticipated features of the Ratner Athletics Center. The 50-meter by 25-yard pool includes nine eight-foot-wide lanes and contains a moveable bulkhead, which allows for simultaneous activities. In addition, two one-meter diving boards will be available. The pool depth ranges from four feet in the shallow section to 13.5 feet in the diving well. Recreational swimming hours will be offered in the early morning, at midday and in the evenings on weekdays with additional hours on weekends. Weekend family swim hours also will be available.
The Bernard J. DelGiorno fitness center occupies two levels of the facility, including the rotunda area. Featuring an atmosphere that is open and full of light, the fitness center will include two selectorized weight training machines, free weights, rowing ergometers, elliptical trainers, recumbent and upright bicycles, and treadmills-some with cardio theater options.
The Ratner Athletics Center’s competition gym and auxiliary gym are available to recreational users. The competition gym, which features a practice and game site for varsity basketball and volleyball, converts to two recreational courts. The auxiliary gym includes a multipurpose court that accommodates indoor soccer, basketball, volleyball and badminton.
The existing Henry Crown Field House and Stagg Field complex will continue to provide indoor and outdoor recreational opportunities, respectively. Features of the Henry Crown Field House include a 200-meter indoor running track; racquetball, handball and squash courts; multipurpose courts; a multipurpose room; and cardiovascular and weight training equipment. The Stagg Field outdoor complex includes a 400-meter track, eight tennis courts, and fields for baseball, softball, football and soccer.
Additional information regarding the University’s athletic and recreational facilities is available online at athletics.uchicago.edu/facilities/facilities.htm or by calling (773) 753-4680.