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MizzouRec: How a Hidden Gem Helps Shape Bodies and Minds

Tiger Grotto

How can something that dates back to 1905 and encompasses 300,000 square feet be a hidden gem? 

Unless you’re a Mizzou student or affiliated with the University of Missouri in some way — and the numbers indicate that tens of thousands of Columbia and Boone County residents have only seen the exterior of MizzouRec — the innards of the massive, steeped-in-history, cardio-pumping recreation center at the southwest corner of Rollins and Hitt streets is still a secret to most locals. Although affordable memberships (ranging from $43 to $53 per month for non-students) are available to the public, only 7 percent of the recreation center’s 21,500 users in the 2022-2023 academic year were non-students — Columbia household residents with no academic or employment ties to Mizzou.

While there’s a plethora of fitness, meeting, swimming, and basketball dribbling space in the gigantic building that grew up around Rothwell Gymnasium (built in 1905) and Brewer Fieldhouse — which was dedicated in 1930 and once hosted an Elton John concert — the recreation space footprint and reach extends outside and even far beyond the campus boundaries. The MizzouRec Trail has connections to Columbia’s nationally recognized MKT and nature/fitness trail system, providing both a fitness and recreation venue as well as an eco-friendly route for commuting to campus.

MizzouRec’s eight outdoor spaces include the spacious and multi-functional Stankowski Field. Though not physically attached, the Mizzou Gaming Lounge in Center Hall is home of the burgeoning esports realm on campus. All MizzouRec spaces, from one lane of the 50-meter pool to the entirety of Stankowski Field, are available for rental to community groups, businesses, and organizations for meetings, tournaments, formal banquets, one-of-a-kind birthday parties, or other celebrations and events.

In his welcome message in MizzouRec’s 2022-2023 Impact Report, director Stephen Boyd listed myriad improvements and updates that are now among “the exciting new array of high-impact service offerings” and recreation amenities “that are as wonderful as any in the country.” He emphasized that MizzouRec is available to students, staff, and the community.

MizzouRec Services describes itself as a conglomeration of historic facilities and spirited traditions. Here’s a peek at the facilities.


The spaces include:

  • The Mizzou Aquatic Center (MAC) and 50-meter pool with diving wells and a diving platform. The MAC is the site for all Mizzou swimming and diving home competitions and has hosted 17 competitions that have attracted more than 6,470 athletes in the 2022-2023 academic year. 
  • Brewer Butte climbing wall. The thirty-five-and-a-half-foot-tall climbing wall is a weekend rental option, ready for a group or business looking for a unique and challenging party idea. The wall has treks suitable for beginners all the way to advanced climbers.
  • Even the indoor track mezzanine — a one-sixth mile track — is outfitted with several stations and pieces of equipment to turn a leisurely, mind-clearing walk into a comprehensive core workout.
  • Tiger Grotto is in the same space as the 50-meter pool — “It’s always Spring Break in the grotto” — with resort-quality facilities including zero-depth pool entry, a lazy river and waterfall, and a hot tub, sauna, and steam room.
  • Eight traditional meeting rooms. Rental costs range from $35 an hour for six of the eight spaces, and $55 an hour for the Old Varsity Club and $45 an hour for the Old Varsity Club Lounge. Take a nostalgic step back into time for a cascade of yesteryear amenities, as each meeting room — in fact, each space in the rec center — features a plaque with a message about the space’s place in Mizzou history.
  • Throughout the rec center, the installation of new audio-visual equipment has enhanced not just meeting spaces, but the fitness space experiences, too.

Other amenities include: Clark’s Boxing Gym, the Jungle Lounge with reclining leather chairs and high-top tables for studying or chilling out with friends, Cardio Gallery with more than 100 pieces of workout equipment, multi-sports courts including the home of Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball’s games and camp, Tiger Lair; and more.


The open-air facility is near the southeast entrance. The multi-functional workout and fitness space is usable most days of the year — cooled with fans and shade sails during warmer months and equipped with heaters for cooler months. Other outdoor facilities include:

  • Stankowski Field
  • Sand volleyball courts
  • MizzouRec Trail
  • Mizzou Tennis Complex
  • Hinkson Outdoor Complex
  • Epple Park

Rent Some or All

MizzouRec has spaces for events ranging from eight to 2,000 guests. Rentals can include (for additional fee) event staffing, equipment, and services such as catering and custodial help. 

Aquatic Spaces

Student organizations, university department/affiliates, and non-affiliate rates for renting the entire 50-meter pool are $150, $180, and $215 an hour, respectively, for those three categories. Also available to rent: one or more pool lanes; all or some dive wells; diving spring boards; the diving tower (from $35 to $55/hour); and Tiger Grotto.

Interior Spaces

Non-affiliate rental costs range from $30 an hour for the indoor track and Spirit and Tradition Hall to $215 an hour for all four courts at Brewer Fieldhouse.

Outside Active Spaces

Non-affiliate rental costs range from $30 an hour for Stankowski Track or Stankowski Pavilion to $215 an hour for all sand volleyball courts (or $35/hour per court). Check the MizzouRec website for updated rental terms and options for Hinkson Field and Epple Field.

MizzouRec Services is among the largest student employers on campus, with more than 300 students filling jobs in 2022-2023. In addition, Mizzou Rec Services awarded $25,000 in scholarships.

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