Opening dates set for Shell, NTS, Nicholas Recreation Center

A photo of equipment at the Shell, spaced out to allow for physical distancing

The Shell and Nielsen Tennis Stadium (NTS) will reopen to students, faculty, and staff on Monday, August 17. The Nicholas Recreation Center is expected to open in a limited capacity on Monday, September 14.

Shell and Nielsen Tennis Stadium

For the health and safety of our members and staff, facility occupancy will initially be limited to 25%. Reservations are required for the Shell and NTS and can be made online through To start, the Shell will be open Monday through Friday from 5:45am until 7:30pm. NTS will be open Monday through Friday from 6:15am until 6pm.

With guidance from the campus-wide Smart Restart plan, Public Health Madison & Dane County, the State of Wisconsin, and the CDC, we’ve made the following adjustments to protect the health and safety of our community: 

  • Masks are required at all times. Our staff will be wearing them, too.
  • At the Shell, we’ve rearranged equipment and modified the layout to allow for at least six feet of physical distancing and 10-12 feet of distancing between high-exertion (cardio) equipment. 
  • Our staff will be routinely cleaning all surfaces with high-powered solutions. We’ve also built in time between reservations to allow for a deeper clean. 
  • The following in-person activities are available: cardio equipment, track, weight lifting, circuit work, stretching, and singles tennis. Other in-person programs and activities will become available when deemed safe. We are offering virtual programs like group fitness classes and Esports leagues.
  • Some services including lockers, towels, and equipment check-out are currently unavailable. If you’re a current locker holder, please visit our website to see options available to you. 
  • We are not accepting cash payments at this time. 

For the most updated information about facilities, memberships, and other changes, please visit the Smart Restart page on our website.

Nicholas Recreation Center
After experiencing significant construction and weather challenges last fall, we expect to open the Nicholas Recreation Center in a limited capacity on Monday, September 14. Over the next few weeks, we’ll continue to work closely with the construction team, officials, and subcontractors to go through the final code-driven inspections and sign-offs, complete final connections for facility infrastructure and programming, and train our full-time and student staff on procedures and facility operations. 

Upon opening, we anticipate that fitness and weight lifting spaces will be open for use. The pool will not be available. The opening of the Soderholm Family Aquatic Center is expected to be delayed until early to mid-October due to the international travel ban, which delayed the installation of the movable pool floor. For the pool to be operational, the construction team is working to prep and fill the pool, balance the water and HVAC systems, and complete health and safety sign-offs. Once those items are complete, we will train our staff on pool operations and prepare for opening. We will release additional information about what to expect at the Nicholas Recreation Center as we approach September 14.