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Published: January 29, 2021

UT Breaks Ground on Fitness Center Expansion

Where the long, single-story, peach-colored Fairgrounds building stood just weeks ago is now a leveled, dirt lot. But not for long.

Abby Byrne '21 speaking at the Fitness and Recreation Center Phase II groundbreaking ceremony.
“As one of the most popular places on campus, I’m excited to see how the (Benson Alex Riseman Fitness and Recreation Center) will push our students to grow and flourish both physically and mentally,” said Abby Byrne '21, Student Government president.

On Friday afternoon, that area of campus got its encore with the groundbreaking on Phase II of the Benson Alex Riseman Fitness and Recreation Center. 

Members of the UT community — along with donors Lee and Benson Riseman ’78 — gathered along Spaulding Avenue to celebrate the start of construction on the expansion of the fitness center, which is expected to open in January 2022. 

“As one of the most popular places on campus, I’m excited to see how the (Benson Alex Riseman Fitness and Recreation Center) will push our students to grow and flourish both physically and mentally,” said Abby Byrne '21, Student Government president. “UT students are so, so excited to have such a beautiful place to achieve their goals and develop. I know that the effect of your generous investment will ripple through generations of Spartans to come."

Phase I of the Fitness and Recreation Center opened in September 2016 as a two-story, 40,000-square-foot facility that houses exercise programs, personal training and evaluation, wellness and nutrition programs, intramurals, recreation activities, club sports, and some exercise-related laboratory and research activities.

Rendering of the Fitness Center phase two expansion
Phase II will expand the existing center, adding additional workout and exercise space, academic classrooms, offices, study spaces, and exercise science and human performance laboratory space.

Phase II of the Benson Alex Riseman Fitness and Recreation Center will also be two stories and will feature:

  • More workout spaces and state-of-the-art equipment, including dedicated areas for free weights and strength training
  • A functional training space
  • Academic classrooms (including two 70-seat classrooms), faculty offices and study spaces
  • Individual study spaces and work stations
  • Teaching and research space for programs in exercise and nutrition science, and in health sciences and human performance
  • Expanded space for BikeUT, UT’s university-wide bike loaner program

When expansion of the main building is nearing completion, construction of the outdoor elements of the center will begin.

“I believe Phase II will allow the recreation center to continue being one of the very best in the country, and will allow for students, staff and faculty to focus on health and wellness, which is so important in these times,” said UT President Ron Vaughn. “I am grateful for Lee and Benson Riseman for their generous and unwavering support of UT.”

The Fitness and Recreation Center building will stay open for the duration of the construction of Phase II.


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