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July 8, 2003


LA CROSSE, Wis—The Boys &  Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse and Viterbo University announced today plans to partner in a $7.5 million project which will include construction of a 58,000 square foot joint recreational and educational center on property owned by the university.

The new recreational and educational facility will be located on Eighth Street between Winnebago and Mississippi streets and construction is expected to begin in May, 2004.

Supporters of the historic joint collaborative--the first of its kind in the nation between a Boys & Girls club and a university--cite a number of benefits that will result from the project. The Boys & Girls Clubs will secure permanent and much needed space to serve the youth of La Crosse’s south side, and Viterbo, which has doubled its enrollment over the past 12 years, will be able to secure much needed space to alleviate the serious overcrowded  conditions which exist in its current Student Activities Center.

The new building will include three regulation-size gymnasiums, a teen center, a cardiovascular fitness room, a 1/8 mile walking and jogging track, game rooms, a free weight strength center, computer lab and art room.

The design of the building will allow for certain space--such as the gymnasiums--to be shared, while other sections will be segregated for use exclusively by Viterbo or the Boys &  Girls Club.

“This project is generating a great deal of excitement” said William Medland, president of Viterbo and a member of the planning committee, which has been working for months to reach the agreement which culminated in today’s announcement.

“For Viterbo students, the opening of the new facility will provide immediate relief to a very serious overcrowding situation. Our students want more space for recreation and wellness activities and this shared facility makes a lot of sense because we discovered the Boys& Girls Club has very similar needs which can be addressed in this collaboration.”

On La Crosse’s south side, the Boys and Girls Clubs currently operates clubs at Hamilton Elementary, Lincoln Middle School, and Huber Homes , all areas with limited space.

According to Rob McMahon, president of the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse, “There are many children who are in need of the activities and programs offered by the Boys and Girls Clubs that are not currently being served. This project addresses the need for a positive and productive place for youth on the south side to be exposed to living and learning experiences.”

Medland indicated that representatives of the club and the university have been meeting regularly and the facility will be constructed with dollars raised from a joint fundraising effort chaired by community leaders John Desmond and Scott Mathy.

“The response we have received so far has been unbelievable. The project is unique, yet very sensible. Consequently, I believe benefactors will respond generously to this collaboration,” Medland said.

Terry Erickson, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse, indicated that he is excited about the proximity he will gain with the new building. “The facility offers much needed space for recreation for our kids.  Also, just imagine the tutoring and mentoring opportunities the club will gain in its collaboration with the university,” he said.

Barry Fried, director of athletics at Viterbo agrees. His athletic program was recently cited by NAIA as “Champions of Character” for encouraging integrity, sportsmanship, responsibility, respect, and servant leadership. “We’ve been very proud of our programs and while the V-Hawks definitely like to win, athletics is more than just what you do in the game, it’s also about winning off court as well. We will look forward to working with the Boys and Girls Clubs and the youth of Viterbo’s neighborhood.”

Fried added that currently, Viterbo offers program for youth and the new facility could bring about more possibility. Last year over 725 youth were at Viterbo sponsored camps and summer leagues. “A new recreational and educational facility will allow for even more growth and expansion of these summer campus and other youth activities,” he said.


Founding board representatives of the collaborative project::
S. Celesta Day, FSPA, chair, Viterbo Board of Trustees
John Desmond, Viterbo Board of Trustees
Anita Froegel, Viterbo Board of Trustees
William Medland, president, Viterbo University
Rob McMahon, president, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse Board of Directors
Dan Gelatt, Boys & Girls Clubs  of Greater La Crosse Board of Directors
Scott Mathy, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse Board of Directors
David Russell, Boys & Girls Club of Greater La Crosse Board of Directors
Terry Erickson, executive director, Boys & Girls Club of Greater La Crosse


Viterbo University: When the Student Activities Center was built in 1987, it was meant to accommodate 650 full time students. Today, that number has more than doubled as Viterbo serves 1329 full-time undergraduate student and another 350 part-time undergraduates. The current facility is “booked” regularly from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. with little time for general student recreation activities.

Boys & Girls Clubs: South side facilities are currently located in Hamilton Elementary and Lincoln Middle schools. These sites only have restricted space available and are not capable of supporting many needed programs and activities.


Viterbo University: Viterbo has experienced a 300 percent increase in participation in intramural and recreational activities in the last three years. The new collaborative facility will allow the university to offer many more organized student programs. Some of those programs would be cardiovascular fitness, strength and conditioning, intramural leagues, employee fitness, first aid and CPR class and other group and individual fitness opportunities.

Boys & Girls Clubs: The club would be able to expand not only the quantity of its programs but also more importantly, the quality of its program. A state of the art facility would provide improved opportunities in education and career development, character and leadership development, health and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation program. 

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