University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Eau Claire,

Recreation and Athletics Program and Project Prioritization Study

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire fosters a student body that values personal fitness and an active lifestyle, and its athletics department relies on the institution’s facilities to recruit and retain student athletes, since athletic scholarships are not available at the Division III level. The recreation department offers a wide range of intramural and club sports and participation rates exceed those of the University’s peer institutions. The campus’s athletic and recreation facilities are shared not only amongst each other, but also with academic programs and the Eau Claire community. Consequently, these facilities are highly utilized and face challenges with respect to deferred maintenance and program accommodations. To address these issues, SmithGroupJJR on behalf of the University, retained Brailsford & Dunlavey to conduct a program and prioritization study to further refine the 2010 campus master plan’s recommendations for the athletics and recreation facilities.

The first step taken by B&D to execute this project’s work plan was to lead its proprietary Strategic Asset Value session with a select group of athletics and recreation personnel and University administrators. The SAV served to align existing project goals and objectives, define a targeted new reality, and create a set of evaluation criteria. This was followed by focus groups and interviews with students, a student survey, a competitive context analysis, and facility tours.

Findings from B&D’s analyses and research concluded that improving physical conditions, adjusting existing facility programs, and relocating programs to strategic locations would contribute to overall student satisfaction and achieve the strategic objectives identified by the University and its athletics and recreation departments. Because the student body was highly sensitive to increasing fees and budget cuts already enacted, B&D outlined program strategies that addressed existing facility constraints and were mindful of project economics and the financial implications on both the University and its students. The planning strategies aimed to increase operational efficiency, leverage existing assets, maximize space use, and meet the demands of the entire campus community.