AMHERST, MA -- The University of Massachusetts (UMass) broke ground last week on a new $50 million student recreation center that is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2009.

The 120,000-square-foot facility, which will be constructed across the street from the Mullins Center basketball and hockey arena, will include a three-court gymnasium and an indoor three-lane jogging track, according to the Springfield (MA) Republican. The center also will have a weights area with cardio equipment and big-screen TVs, locker and bathroom facilities, a juice bar, lounge and offices. The three-floor building will be about seven times larger than the existing recreation facilities in Boyden Gymnasium, according to a UMass press release.

About 70 dignitaries attended the groundbreaking, including UMass President Jack M. Wilson.

“Students have been bugging me about this [since] before I was president,” says Wilson, who took over as interim president in August 2003.

Although a UMass spokesperson told the Republican that he expects no conflicts in the construction of the project, the group Preserve UMass believes that one of the barns that must be razed to make way for the facility across from the Mullins Center is of historical significance. Therefore, the university must comply with state historical and Environmental Policy Act regulations, the newspaper reported.

Funding for the new facility will come from student fees.