Generous donation helps launch Bakke leisure and wellness center


A new state-of-the-art facility to support student and community health will almost triple the size of the old Natatorium, serving more students and community members with recreation and wellness services.

The $ 113.2 million facility will be named Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center.

The giveaway and details were announced today at a groundbreaking event at the site, where the building is already taking shape. Construction began in the spring of 2021 and is expected to be completed in 2023.

The Bakke Recreation and Wellbeing Center will be operated by UW-Madison’s Recreation and Wellbeing in Student Affairs.

In addition to housing a 25-yard recreational pool, the facility will include the Sub-Zero ice rink, an indoor track, wellness services such as massage therapy and meditation, and an educational kitchen for nutrition programs. The building complements the Nicholas Recreation Center, which opened on the southeast side of the campus in 2020.

Jim and Sue Bakke

Jim and Sue Bakke provided the largest private donation of $ 20 million to support the Bakke Center. Jim is a UW-Madison alumnus and President and CEO of Sub-Zero Group, Inc., a luxury appliance manufacturer founded in Madison in 1945. Sue graduated in 1977 from the University of Boston in physiotherapy.

The Bakke family has supported many areas of the campus over the years, including scholarships and scholarships to the Wisconsin School of Business and contributions to athletics, the College of Engineering, the School of Human Ecology and the School. of Medicine and Public Health.

“We were inspired by the vision for a facility that could expand into the incredible resource that the Nicholas Recreation Center has become,” said Jim Bakke. “We believe it is vital to support the mental and physical health of UW students and the community at large.”

“We believe that exceptional student recreation spaces are essential in attracting the best students to UW-Madison,” adds Sue Bakke. “We were also motivated by access to the community and especially by the essential work done in the adapted fitness program. “

The facility will also be funded by $ 76.6 million in separate fees for students, an additional $ 13.6 million in private donations and $ 3 million from donors and campus for the Adapted Fitness Program. In a 2014 Madison Student Associate Referendum, students approved a separate fee increase to fund Rec Well’s master plan, which included the Bakke Center, Nicholas Recreation Center, and two outdoor recreation grounds.

“The Bakke Center will redefine what a wellness and recreation center can be,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said. “It will be a space that welcomes the public with community memberships and events, camps and clinics, cooking classes and 1: 1 nutritional counseling. And there’s no doubt that the Sub-Zero Ice Arena will be one of the hottest places on campus!

The Adapted Fitness Program, housed in the School of Education’s kinesiology department, tailors physical activity programs to community members with various disabilities. The program also offers college courses and service learning opportunities for UW-Madison students to learn how to better serve these clients.

A generous donation from alumni Mike and Ginny Conway, along with campus support, has ensured that Adapted Fitness will have 5,000 square feet of dedicated space at the Bakke Center, allowing the program to expand beyond its boundaries. current limits.

About the Bakke Leisure and Wellness Center

The Bakke Center will feature eight basketball courts, the Sub-Zero rink, five multi-purpose halls and sports simulators. A space is dedicated to wellness services, including massage therapy, peer wellness coaching, wellness workshops and meditation. The Wolf Teaching Kitchen, named after Sub-Zero’s line of cooking appliances, will host educational workshops, cooking demonstrations and nutritional advice.

“The Bakke Leisure and Wellness Center was designed for people of all physical abilities and fitness levels,” says Jackie Elliott, Spring 2021 graduate who was part of the project’s design team. . “Whether a student walks into their first group fitness class or their 500th elevator, they will have a space where they can learn and grow here. “

Since the Ho-Chunks began arriving in the area at least 12,000 years ago, they have honed the skills and technologies that have become the activities we recognize today as archery. , canoeing and snowshoeing, as well as team sports such as lacrosse. To recognize and celebrate the long tradition of health and recreation activities in the Teejop area, Recreation and Wellness Director Aaron Hobson announced a partnership with Ho-Chunk artist Ken Lewis and executives of Ho-Chunk to design a sculpture that will serve as a space for reflection and celebration of the Ho-Chunk people near the building. The design will be unveiled at a later date.

UW-Madison occupies the ancestral Ho-Chunk Land, a place the Ho-Chunks call Teejop (Dejope, or Four Lakes). In an 1832 treaty, the Ho-Chunk Nation was forced to cede this territory. The Our Shared Future Heritage Marker at UW-Madison recognizes this story.

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