Provo Recreation Center opens after years of anticipation

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Close to a thousand Provo residents attended the grand opening of the new Provo Recreation Center Saturday.

“One of the most common words I’ll hear from you all today is ‘Wow,'” promised Mike Bateman, a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Board and one of the key figures in the new center’s construction. “This recreation center will be the centerpiece of this community.”

Roger Thomas, director of Provo Parks and Recreation, was celebratory during the afternoon ceremony.

“Dreams do come true,” an emotional Thomas said. “It was the initiative of the citizens of Provo that made this facility a reality.  My congratulations go to the citizens for making this day possible.”

The ceremonial ribbon cutting, led by Mayor John Curtis with council members and Provo residents by his side, was met with great fanfare. The crowd counted down to an official opening as air cannons shot streamers into the air and triumphant music blared from stage speakers.

Mayor Curtis cuts the ribbon on the new recreation center on Saturday.
City officials participate in the ceremonial ribbon cutting at the Provo Recreation Center’s grand opening Saturday. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

Immediately, hundreds of Provo residents eagerly rushed for the open doors in the sort of human traffic jam that usually occurs only on Black Friday.

“I love it,” said Jeanne Reece, 60, from Provo. “I came for the tour the other day and loved it so much I had to come back (for the opening). I even dragged along my family this time.”

During the opening ceremony, the mayor was a man of few words.

“I only have two things to say to you: on time and on budget,” Curtis said to cheers from the audience.

Officials broke ground on the $39 million center two years ago, as the city began tearing down the old Timp Ball Park.  Newly finished, the complex boasts 162,000 square feet of recreation.

“I think it’s incredible,” said Whitney Lindsley, 25, from Provo. “I really like it.  I think it’s just great. You get this ‘new’ feeling walking around here and it just gets me pumped to go work out.”

Crowds line the pool deck of the new recreation center during Saturday's open house. (Photo by Sarah Hill)
Crowds line the pool deck of the new recreation center during Saturday’s open house. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

The center has everything from child care to senior fitness.  The indoor swimming pools include a lazy river, a tree house fort for kids, both indoor and outdoor water slides, and a rock wall/cliff diving area.  From above, fitness junkies on the second floor can watch all of the action going on in the pools or on the courts, thanks to the center’s use of space and glass, making practically every activity visible from any other part of the building.  A second-floor 1/6 mile walking track looks over four basketball courts and six racquetball courts.

“It’s awesome,” said Curt Hamilton, 31, from Provo.  “I really liked the building.  I think the design is really cool.”

Alex Schmall, 23, also from Provo, agreed.

“It looks nice,” Schmall said. “It’s about time we get something like this.  I think the coolest part is all of the glass.  You can watch the basketball and racquetball games going on while you’re working out.”

Amanda Poppe, a BYU senior majoring in American studies from Cannon Falls, Minn., guided tours throughout the facility in the week leading up to the opening.

“I’ve only been working here for a week and a half,” Poppe said.  “I just finished training yesterday.  But I’m really excited about this (recreation) center. I think it’s really great they put a lot of thought into making it such a family-oriented place.”

The center is currently registering new members.  Individual memberships cost $95 for three months, $132 for couples and $167 for families.  Six month and annual membership packages are also available. Residents can also purchase a day pass for $5 each.

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