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OBU To Dedicate Recreation and Wellness Center Nov. 9

November 8, 2007

A massive new campus structure, changes to a long-time landmark, and unveiling of a new work of art will be celebrated on the Oklahoma Baptist University campus Friday afternoon, Nov. 9, in a dedication program during OBU's Homecoming.

The 2:30 p.m. ceremony will be on the front steps of OBU's new 59,500-square-foot Recreation and Wellness Center, on University Street near Airport Road. The brief program will include remarks from OBU President Mark Brister.

The three-fold dedication will encompass the new center, as well as expansion and renovation of OBU's Noble Complex for Athletics, which opened in 1982. The two structures are adjacent on the west side of the university's campus. OBU also will unveil and dedicate The Bison Spirit, a life-size American Bison sculpture created by noted Oklahoma artist Harold T. Holden.

The public is invited to attend the dedication ceremonies, and participate in an open house for both the Recreation and Wellness Center and the Noble Complex

The two-story recreation and wellness center, which is slated to open for student usage in late November, features three basketball/volleyball courts, nearly five dozen cardiovascular workout and strength machines, a one-tenth mile walking/jogging track, an aerobics/fitness studio, a two-story climbing wall, a 14-foot-high bouldering area, and three racquetball courts. The center also includes four locker rooms, two of which lead to OBU's existing junior Olympic swimming pool, as well as an assessment area and events room. In addition, there is office space located on the second floor for Recreation and Wellness Center staff.

The center is located on the site of historic Clark Craig Fieldhouse. Constructed at OBU in 1948, the fieldhouse was raised in January 2006 to make way for the new wellness facility. The recreation and wellness center is a $10 million capital project, the largest in OBU's history.

The Noble Complex, which houses OBU's 2,400-seat Mabee Arena, has had approximately 12,745 square feet renovated, enhancing space for classrooms, athletic training, varsity weight lifting facilities, and faculty and athletic offices. The complex also has been expanded by more than 16,600 square feet. The expansion includes new locker rooms and offices for men's and women's basketball, and a 3,125-square-foot event suite overlooking the west end of the arena, which is home to OBU's varsity basketball teams.

CJC Architects of Tulsa served as the architect for both the Recreation and Wellness Center and the Noble Complex expansion.

The Bison Spirit is the completion of a long-standing desire of President Brister and his wife, Rhonda, who wanted to see a work of art depicting a life-size bison added to the campus. Ken Fergeson, chairman of OBU's board of trustees when the plans for the recreation and wellness center were being completed, commissioned Holden, from Kremlin, Oklahoma, to sculpt the bison. Fergeson and NBC Bank have underwritten four previous Holden monuments in Oklahoma. The Bison Spirit is Holden's 12th public work of art.

"The Bison not only serves as the OBU mascot and the official Oklahoma state animal; it also is an historic symbol of OBU and represents the competitive, charging spirit of the University," said John Patterson, OBU senior vice president for development. "That spirit is demonstrated in the success of OBU students and graduates."

The Bison Spirit has been designated as an Official Oklahoma Centennial Project.

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