University Park Center opens on campus

By Payne Ray
Staff writer

A little more than 100 people gathered Friday afternoon for the grand opening of the University Park Center, a large multi-use facility located behind the aquatic center on the University of West Florida’s Pensacola campus.

The building, which began construction sometime after the completion of Pen Air Field in 2016, will house a facility for student-athletes, for the Usha Kundu, MD College of Health and a new regional home for Florida State University’s College of Medicine.

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“I think that by putting us in a building that allows us to collaborate, we are really fortunate to be able to start off on the right foot,” Denise Seabert, incoming Dean of the Usha Kundu, MD College of Health, said.

The opening day featured several speakers prior to the building’s opening to the public. UWF President Martha Saunders led the ribbon cutting ceremony shortly after.

“Today’s opening of University Park Center not only provides additional space for our growing healthcare and athletic programs, it also brings Florida State University to our campus,” Saunders said. “Our collaboration with the FSU College of Medicine is a great example of how we can work together to improve the health of our community by providing highly trained medical professionals.”

Prior to the opening of the building, FSU students were already in Pensacola according to medical student Kenneth Delgado.

Delgado, in his final years at Florida State’s medical program, came to Pensacola to perform clinicals with local physicians in Pensacola. The base of operations for the program until now has been a small building on University Parkway, across the street from Panera Bread.

The new building’s second floor represents a step forward for each university’s partnership in their attempt to bring medical professionals to the panhandle.

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The first floor of the building is entirely designed for the Intercollegiate athletic programs at UWF.

A new weight room, complete with new equipment and mounted iPads for keeping track of health statistics, is open to all athletes at UWF, in addition to the smaller weight room that exists as part of the Field House.

The floor’s other big installments include a large, customized locker room for the Argonaut football team as well as laundry facilities which are intended to serve the team’s needs for the foreseeable future.

The locker room has 115 customized lockers for players. For the players, this means they have their names on them, have specific places to put their helmets and other items, and outlets so that they may leave their personal devices charging while out on the field.

The new building will undergo LEED certification testing by the United States Green Building Council sometime in the future, as part of the university’s sustainability plans for all new buildings going forward.

Construction finished on the University Park Center just months after new construction started on the new laboratory sciences building between Pace Hall and the Pace Library on campus.

The University Park Center is served by Parking Lot E, and its use by students from both West Florida and Florida State has already begun.

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