Students first asked us to consider a Master Plan for new recreational facilities in spring 2012. With overcrowded and outdated buildings that do not serve campus demand and that are far behind the national standard for fitness space, the current facilities do not meet the needs of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In a March 2014 referendum to the student government ballot, students voted in favor of the Master Plan for new recreational facilities. A record-breaking 87% of students who voted demonstrated their support for the project, which includes new construction of two buildings and two outdoor fields.

UW-Madison is consistently ranked as one of the world’s leading academic and research institutions. New facilities will help extend our university’s world-class reputation from the classroom to the overall campus experience. We are not only creating larger spaces that will meet demand. We are creating opportunities for Badgers to play hard, get fit, and live well so they can be more effective students, professionals, and contributors to society. On, Wisconsin!

View the Architect’s Final Report


Photo of the Near West fields from an aerial view.


Directly west of the new Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center, the Near West Fields are the first completed project of the Master Plan and our first synthetic turf field facility. They can accommodate a variety of sports and feature more economical and environmentally-conscious options for lighting and turf.

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An exterior image of the Nicholas Recreation Center


The Nicholas Recreation Center is the first major building project of the Master Plan and opened September 28, 2020. Named in honor of Albert “Ab” Nicholas, his wife Nancy, and the Nicholas family, this facility features 8 full-size basketball courts, five multipurpose studios, a competition pool and diving well, 30,000 square feet of fitness space, and more.

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Exterior image of Bakke overlooking Willow Creek.


The Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center opened on April 24, 2023. This was the third project in our Master Plan. The Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center (Bakke) is named for lead donors Jim (’77) and Sue Bakke and features spaces dedicated to supporting wellbeing services, a 25-yard recreational pool, eight multipurpose courts, Sub-Zero Ice Arena, a climbing and bouldering wall, sports simulators, multipurpose studios, an indoor jogging track, a rooftop fitness area, and over 29,000 square feet of fitness space.


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Photo of the Near East outdoor soccer fields


Renovation of the Near East Fields is starting and is scheduled to finish in spring of 2025. This is the final project of the Master Plan.



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"Education isn't just about the mind. It's about figuring out how to live one's life as an effective and productive person, and that means integrating both the mind and the body."

Chancellor Rebecca Blank on the value of campus recreation


Your contribution to the Rec Well Master Plan for new recreational facilities reflects your commitment to improving the Wisconsin Experience for students, faculty/staff, and the greater Madison community.

The donation you make today will help provide more opportunities for students to stay active, balanced, and connected to campus. Thank you for your generous support and for your vision of an even better University of Wisconsin.