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MIT Ups Athletic Fees With Z-Center Opening

By Kathy Lin and Marissa Vogt

STAFF REPORTERS

With the opening of the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center, MIT has dramatically hiked athletic fees, raising the prices by hundreds of dollars for alumni, families, and MIT staff to access its athletic facilities. The price increases bring MIT’s athletic fees closer to those of area private health clubs.

“It is natural that when any university opens up a new facility, fees go up accordingly,” said Tim Moore, the Zesiger Center’s general manager. “It takes a significant amount of money to operate such a large and elaborate facility.”

The fee increases for alumni, families and staff come in addition to the newly-instituted mandatory $200-per-year student fee, which also principally supports the Zesiger Center. Students do not pay separately for access to athletic facilities.

Rates increase for faculty, alumni

The fee for athletic memberships for families of MIT students is $200 this school year, up from $30 last year.

MIT alumni must pay $525 to retain athletic access this year, up from $300 last year and $20 for the 1999-2000 school year. Their families may receive athletic memberships for $700, up from $500 last year and only $100 in 1999-2000.

And MIT faculty and staff now pay $375 for access to athletic facilities, up from $150 last year.

The new athletic memberships include access to all old and new athletic facilities, including the sailing and crew facilities that once were not included in the package.

Fees comparable to health club fees

“Our new facility is certainly comparable to health clubs in the area,” said Larry G. Benedict, the dean for student life. “Fees for those clubs are two or three times the membership fees being charged for the facility.”

Fitness International, in Boston, charges members $870 per year, plus a $200 initiation fee. Fees at the Boston Athletic Club range from $770 to $1,200 per year.

“There are lots of free classes, to see what people are interested in,” Moore said. “You can swim almost any time that the center is open, which is something that didn’t happen before. We also have a lot of new equipment and facilities.”

Zesiger finances still uncertain

MIT officials have so far declined to give an estimate for the Zesiger Center’s operating costs. “I don’t have an exact budget for the new building,” Benedict said. “But the building needs to pay for everything, from lifeguard, to maintenance of all the new equipment to the salaries of the people running the building,” he said.

It is “too soon to know if we are on target for membership numbers,” he said.