SALT LAKE CITY — With the help of a $3 million grant from the Eccles Foundation, the University of Utah will break ground on a new Student Life Center in 2013, with plans for a fall 2014 opening, the university announced Wednesday.

Officials say the grant from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation completes the funding needed to begin construction on the center, which is planned as a centerpiece of campus activity.

The 172,000-square-foot center will be built near the Fort Douglas TRAX station, just west of the George S. Eccles 2002 Legacy Bridge, and will house recreational and physical fitness facilities, as well as a cafe and study areas. 

"This is truly a landmark day on our campus," University of Utah President David Pershing said. "The positive impact this center will make throughout the university cannot be overstated."

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Construction of the $42.5 million center is being funded through a combination of private donations and student-approved bonding, officials said. No state funds will be used for the project.

For more than a decade, students at the university have led the effort to build a student center on campus. Spencer Eccles, chairman and CEO of the Eccles Foundation, said the dedication of the student body made the project compelling.

"The students have been the engine driving this project," Eccles said. "They have remained passionate, determined and unflinching in their commitment to its success."