CHEYENNE, Wyoming – Laramie County Community College is beginning the final stages of transforming one of its oldest buildings on campus, the Recreation & Athletics Complex (RAC). The RAC, originally build in 1971, has seen minor improvements and structural changes over the past 50 years. With the buildings electrical capacity maximized, no air conditioning and aging infrastructure, the College is now looking at substantial improvements, that will address these issues and more.
LCCC’s current student population is 5,300 full and part-time students; and beginning this fall with the addition of a new residence hall, the College will have approximately 600 residential students, an increase of 350 residential students from previous years. These students along with LCCC’s 120 student athletes are excited about the potential for quality recreation and fitness spaces on campus.
“I think improvements to the RAC will greatly benefit both the students and student athletes at LCCC. In order to share the space and give everyone time to use the facility, student athletes and the LCCC athletic programs, sometimes start practice or workouts as early as 6 a.m., and end as late as late as 9 p.m.,” shared Ximena Gutierrez, a member of LCCC’s women’s basketball team.
Working with local contractor GH Phipps and architect, Plan One; the College has completed a feasibility study of the original project proposal from 2017. With an original project cost of $14 million, the College is now dealing with increased construction costs and inflation, and is working to bring the project into the current $20 million budget.
The College plans to move forward with some of the original project designs which include, moving the competition gym into the existing Multipurpose Room (MPR) increasing the ceiling height to align with NJCAA requirements and increase seating. The new seating will accommodate 1300 spectators at LCCC athletic competitions and community events. The project which includes a two-story addition to the west end of the current MPR will allow for additional office spaces, student-athlete locker rooms and weight training facilities and storage. Additionally, the space will include a larger allocation of space for both fitness and weight training, for all LCCC students and employees.
The College will continue to utilize the current competition gym as a space for recreational use by the community and campus. Allowing for homeschool student P.E. classes to continue being offered at LCCC and expanding intermural opportunities for LCCC students.
“The footprint of the building will not change, said Rick Johnson, vice president of administration & finance at the college. “We are excited that the space will allow our students to have a quality recreation and fitness experience on campus.”
While the expansion is exciting and the improvements are much needed, the scope of work does include the removal of both the rock wall and swimming pool. The rock wall will be removed to accommodate the west expansion of the MPR and the area currently occupied by the swimming pool will be used to increase fitness, weight training, and recreation spaces desired by LCCC students.
“We understand that the removal of these areas, are a disappointment to many of our community members. We have evaluated keeping the swimming pool in the project, multiple times, and are simply not able to include the necessary improvements to the pool into the project budget and meet the space needs of our student population,” said Dr. Joe Schaffer, president of LCCC. “We will continue to explore other options for a pool at LCCC, but the current project along with the increased costs of relocating the pool simply don’t allow for it to remain part of the renovation at this time.”
Work on the renovation and expansion of the RAC will begin in September of 2022 and complete in December of 2023. The College is currently in discussions with its partner, Laramie County School District #1 regarding where future athletic competitions will be held during the construction cycle.
The RAC renovation and expansion is a $20 million project that will be funded with $10 million in capital construction support from the Wyoming Legislature, to be matched by the College. LCCC will provide $6 million in funding through bonds backed by existing student fees, $1 million in reserves and the LCCC Foundation will provide the remaining $3 million in private gift support. To date $1.8 million of the $3 million in private support has been raised.
“This project is not just for LCCC, but we want it to benefit Laramie County and the Southeast corner of Wyoming as well. As we have with all of our facilities, we look for this renovation to provide greater economic growth opportunities for our community as we all benefit from an improved recreation facility in Cheyenne,” said Schaffer.
Members of the campus and community are invited to view progress and architectural renderings of the building at lccc.wy.edu/RAC.