JOPLIN, MO -- The new Beimdiek Student Recreation Center at Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) should be open for students when they return to school Aug. 24, school officials say. The $16.5 million facility includes a new student health center as well as a 150-seat theatre-auditorium.

The 65,000-square-foot rec center features a three-court gymnasium, an elevated jogging track, two 4,000-square-foot fitness areas with cardiovascular weight machines and free weights, two fitness class studios, a fitness testing center, locker rooms and showers. Each piece of equipment will have a TV with cable, Bob Harrington, director of the physical plant at Missouri Southern, told The Carthage Press.

In 2008, some MSSU students protested the $150 per semester fee increase to build the rec center, which has been in the works since November 2004. The late George S. Beimdiek, a local businessman, presented the school with a $1 million gift to support the rec center’s construction.