MARTIN, TN -- Students at the University of Tennessee-Martin will enjoy their choice of recreation centers when they return to class for the spring 2010 semester.

A new recreation center will be open next spring, in addition to the school’s Kathleen and Tom Elam Center, which currently houses a student fitness facility. The new rec center will allow the Office of Campus Recreation to expand its hours and offerings.

The Elam Center houses campus recreation, athletics and academic departments and serves as a regular location for campus and community events. Because of class schedules and events, students were only able to use its fitness facilities during evening hours, Gina McClure, director of student recreations, told student reporters.

The university broke ground on the new 96,000-square-foot rec center in October 2008. The $16.5 million project will include a weight room, cardio fitness areas, an aerobics room, a multipurpose room, locker rooms, four basketball courts, an indoor soccer arena, a walking/jogging/running area and racquetball courts. There also will be a lounge area, equipment checkout stations, offices, classrooms, storage and janitorial rooms.

Several green features were included in the new center’s design, including T-8 energy efficient lights and the use of natural lighting. And much of the carpet in the new building will be recycled.

Student fees are the main funding source for the new rec center, which has yet to be named. Lyle Cook Martin, of Clarksville, TN, and Fleming Associates of Memphis, are serving as project architects in a joint venture, and A&K Construction Co., of Paducah, KY, is building the center.