Some time Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 4, 2015), the Kress Events Center at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will record its one-millionth fitness-and-recreation patron visit.
Jeff Krueger, director of operations, says he and Kress staff members will pay close attention to the count Wednesday as it nears 1,000,0000. They’re planning to award a prize package with gift certificates and apparel to the lucky patron whose check-in at the front desk via card swipe accounts for reaching the milestone, almost eight years to the day since the facility’s opening.
Student fitness and recreation facilities at UW-Green Bay took a giant leap forward with the grand opening of the Kress on Nov. 3, 2007. The facility was additionally lauded for providing a suitable home for Phoenix Athletics including women’s basketball and volleyball. The $33 million project was constructed through a partnership led by students, who committed $15 million through higher fees. The state of Wisconsin provided $7.5 million in taxpayer support contingent upon the University realizing more than $11 million in community donations, with The George F. Kress Foundation of Green Bay providing the lead private gift.
Krueger says the one-millionth visit milestone is not merely an estimate. It is an actual electronic count of users — primarily UW-Green Bay students but also faculty, staff, retirees, alumni and community members — reflecting only those who enter the Kress and register at the front desk for recreation/fitness or student-athlete purposes. It does not include attendance at sporting events, commencement ceremonies, concerts, conferences or other special events.
During its busy first week in November 2007 the Kress recorded 3,764 individual user visits, a number that remained relatively constant even as the initial wave of excitement subsided. Krueger says the facility now averages between 4,000 and 4,600 user visits per week when school is in session during the cold-weather months. The single-week “record” was set with 4,719 visits recorded Feb. 2-8, 2014, a particularly bitter stretch during Green Bay’s coldest winter in a century.
For the most recent academic year, the Kress Center documented usage by 3,063 unique student users. On a campus with roughly 2,000 residents in student housing, Krueger says, that figure indicates that participation by commuter students in fitness and recreation activities is significant. The 3,063 students who used the Kress at least once during the 2014-15 school year represent more than two-thirds (69.4 percent) of the 4,411 UW-Green Bay students who completed all or nearly all of their courses in person, on campus. (Another 2,000 or so UWGB students are enrolled primarily through online or distance-learning offerings.)
Exit surveys of graduating seniors now show a marked turnaround in student satisfaction with UW-Green Bay’s fitness and recreation facilities.
In 2005, before the Kress-related expansion of the cramped, outdated Phoenix Sports Center had begun, only 52 percent of respondents indicated they had used the PSC. Those familiar with the facility gave it an overall grade of 2.6 (a C+) on a 4-point scale, lowest-rated among the 20 or so services and offices listed.
In the 2014 survey, recent graduates rated the Kress highest — at 3.7 on a 4.0 scale — ahead of other well-regarded campus services including the library, computer center, student health center and American Intercultural Center, among others. Respondents familiar with the facility climbed to 65 percent.
Krueger says participation in intramural competition has also climbed dramatically since the Kress opened. Last year, 1,001 individuals took part, with most participating in multiple sports, yielding 4,021 team “participations” over the year. The latter figure is more than double the comparable number from the year before the Kress opened.
National surveys have shown that two-thirds of prospective college students say campus fitness and recreation facilities are a factor in choosing a university, and those who study student retention say stress reduction, physical fitness and the social aspect of intramurals and workouts increase student satisfaction and improve retention.
Kress Center Fun Facts
• Honors — Recognized as one of the top 20 “Most Impressive College Gyms and Student Recreation Centers” by Best Value Schools in November 2013.
• High-mileage — The eight Woodway treadmills located on the cardio deck of the Schreiber Foods Fitness Center date to the KEC’s opening in 2007. Combined, they have logged a total of more than 278,000 miles “traveled” by KEC patrons, equivalent to running the circumference of the Earth (24,901 miles) at least 11 times.
• An acre of wood flooring — The KEC has 53,679 sq. ft. of wood floors throughout the facility. The breakdown: Events Center, 17,460 sq. ft.; Dick Bennett Gym, 11,155; Aerobics Room, 1,768; East and West gyms, 20,896; racquetball courts, 2,400. (An acre is 43,560 square feet.)
• Tons of fun — The Fitness Center offers nearly 15 tons of weights —29,708.5 lbs., to be precise — with 12,422.5 lbs. of plates, 9,126 lbs. of dumbbells, and 8,160 lbs. of “stacks.”
• H2O in abundance — The Peter F. Dorschel Natatorium pool contains 360,000 gallons of water, enough to flood the hardwood floor of the 4,000-seat Events Center nearly three feet deep — too deep for basketball, too shallow for water polo… and not good for the floor.
• Canoe Battleship is new water sport — Student Life and the student-funded Good Times Programming group purchased the canoes so that, in spring 2015, the first bring-your-own-pails, sink-your-opponent student competition was held in the KEC pool. “It was a huge hit.”
• A lot of competition — 1,438 intramural games were played at UW-Green Bay in 2014-15, involving 590 different teams.
• Multiple sports, multiple options — Sports competition takes place in numerous sports and, often, various sub-categories (outdoor leagues, indoor leagues; men’s, women’s or co-rec; A and B leagues; singles, doubles, 5-on-5, etc. Sports include basketball, volleyball, softball, flag football, soccer, trenchball, kickball, ultimate Frisbee, futsal, tennis, racquetball, badminton, pickleball, handball, field polo, broom hockey, wallyball, wiffleball, golf, bag toss, ragball, spikeball, kan jam, floor hockey (new) and the aforementioned canoe battleship.
• Fitness classes popular — The Kress averages more than 9,000 fitness “participations” per year. This fall the Kress has 36 weekly group fitness classes in 21 different formats weekly: Ab Lab, Aqua Aerobics, Barre Sculpt, Bunns & Gunns, Butts & Gutts, Cardio Sculpt, Drum Aerobics, Full Body Hooping, Just Dance, Kickboxing, PiYo™, Powerhouse, Rock Your Body, Sunrise Stretching, Sunrise Strength, Toning Circuits, Just Dance, Kickboxing, Turbokick™, Yoga, Yoga for Relaxation, Zumba™, and 30/30.
• Climbing numbers climb — After a few years of declining participation, 2014-15 rebounded to be the second best year for students tackling the center’s climbing tower since the Kress opened in 2007. This fall, the tower has recorded 760 total climbing sessions over the first nine weeks of the semester, a record pace.
• Long hours — The Kress Events Center is open 98.5 hours per week for fitness and recreation.
More Facility Facts
The Kress Events Center opened in November 2007 and represented a massive expansion of the existing Phoenix Sports Center, which dated to 1976. The $33 million project tripled the size of the old PSC (which had 75,000 square feet) to nearly 250,000 square feet.
Schreiber Foods Fitness Center
— 14,000 square feet fitness center
— 1,768 square feet aerobics and martial arts studio with dance/ballet bars, mirrors
— Cardio theater deck with four 50-inch plasma TVs
— Three-lane elevated jogging/walking track, 1/12 mile
— 28-foot-tall rock climbing tower with contoured surface, 6 climbing stations
Over 800 sq. ft. of contoured climbing surface, with 9” relief.
— 19 Magnum weight machines
— 10 Free Motion weight machines
— 8 pieces of Life Fitness Hammer Strength plate-loaded equipment
Cardio Theater Deck
— 8 Woodway Treadmills
— 8 Precor ellipticals
— 6 Precor bikes
— 2 Precor AMT’s
— 4 Precor steppers
— 1 Stairmaster step mill
— 2 Life Fitness ellipticals
— 4 Life Fitness bikes
— 2 Life Fitness steppers
— 4 Cybex arc trainers
— 2 Concept rowing machines
— 4 Kaiser bikes
— 1 Sci Fit ergometer
— 3 station Versa Climber
Indoor Turf Gym
— 12,000 square feet
— Field Turf surface (same as the Packers’ Don Hutson Center)
— Batting cage
— Practice space for Phoenix soccer, softball… green space for open recreation… intramural use by soccer, flag football, wiffleball, frisbee
East and West Gyms
— Four basketball courts or four volleyball courts
— Used mainly for open recreation and intramurals
Dick Bennett Gym
— Primary practice facility for Phoenix Men’s Basketball, also used by volleyball and women’s basketball
— Used for open recreation and intramurals
— Equipped with two Daktronics scoreboards for practice and intramural use
Peter F. Dorschel Natatorium (Pool)
— 8-Lane, 25-Meter Olympic size competition pool
— 1-, 3-, and 5-meter diving boards
— Used primarily for Phoenix swimming teams, recreation and lap swimming, swim lessons, scuba classes
Kress Events Center’s 4,000-seat events center
— Primary competition and practice facility for Phoenix women’s basketball and volleyball programs.
— Hosts University events including Commencement and FOCUS, community events including high school graduation ceremonies and tournaments, visiting speakers
— Lower Bowl seating capacity is 1,370; Upper Bowl capacity is 2,586; dedicated, barrier-free wheelchair and companion seating on mezzanine level for at least 44.
— Maple hardwood flooring
— Main competition court was dedicated Carol’s Court in 2007 to honor longtime UWGB and Phoenix Athletics supporter Carol Bush
— Large video and scoreboard display (on east wall) measures 34 by 17 feet, weighs 7,000 pounds, with video screen measuring more than 7×10 feet in size.
Events hosted since 2007
Among the thousands of events the Kress has hosted since its grand opening in fall 2007 are numerous Green Bay Phoenix Athletics events (including women’s basketball and volleyball home games), as well as Private Dedication Dinner on the Carol’s Court basketball floor, Oct. 2007; Grand Opening Concert featuring Switchfoot, Relient K, Ruth, Nov. 2007; eight consecutive Horizon League Women’s Basketball Tournaments; UW-Green Bay Freshman Welcome, annually; UW-Green Bay Spring Commencement, annually; Southwest, West, East high school graduations, since 2008; Barack Obama presidential campaign appearance, 2008; Shawano Sundrop Shoothout holiday basketball tourneys, since 2009; WIAA girls and boys basketball tournaments; 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion sendoff (2011), homecoming (2012); The Lambeau Leap Gymnastics Meet, since 2013. The center has also hosted the annual Jingle Bell Run fundraiser, National History Day Competition involving local schoolchildren, the WPS Solar Olympics, Special Olympics events, the UW-Green Bay Pow-Wow, local swim and meets, and various private and corporate gatherings.