The city of Madison (WI)’s Plan Commission granted the University of Wisconsin permission to move forward with its plan to tear down the SERF gym on campus and rebuild it with a new swimming facility included.
The plan went back and forth some back in 2014 as to whether a new aquatic facility would be included in the new structure. The current Southeast Recreational Facility (SERF) on the Wisconsin campus features a 50-meter training pool, but that facility is unable to host competitions as it doesn’t include any spectator seating. The Badger swimming & diving teams competes in the 25-yard Natatorium pool that is 56 years old and one of the oldest and smallest facilities in the Big Ten.
The SERF expansion plan in 2013 originally included an 8-lane, 50-meter pool that could be used for competition to replace the old practice pool, which would be torn down. But then in January of 2014, the new pool was removed from plans. The school said at the time that the pool was removed from plans based on issues with funding – the rec sports department was willing to fund up to half of the pool project, while “other campus partners” were needed to fund the other half. With those funding sources unavailable, the school started moving forward without a pool in the works, meaning the UW swim teams would lose their 50-meter practice facility with no replacement.
But by May of 2014, we reported that gift funds began to pour in fast enough that the school re-added the 50-meter competition facility to its plans.
Now the Wisconsin State Journal reports that the city’s Plan Commission approved the university’s plan to demolish the SERF building, noting that “competition swimming and diving pools” would be included in the project. The total cost is estimated at $93 million at this point. The Wisconsin State Journal says that most of the funds for that project as a whole will come from student fees at the University of Wisconsin and that no state money would be used on the SERF upgrade.