In the News: St. Thomas Seeks to Expand Athletics Footprint

The University of St. Thomas is seeking to purchase land near its St. Paul campus with an eye toward building new athletics facilities befitting its reclassification as a Division I competitor. The ideal location would allow it room to grow as a university over the next 100 years, both Vice President and Director of Athletics Phil Esten and Chief Financial Officer Mark Vangsgard said in interviews with the Star Tribune and other local media outlets.

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Esten and Vangsgard spoke with the media after news broke about an offer to purchase 94 acres of land that the university made to the Town and Country Club, golf course facilities located on Marshall Avenue less than a mile from campus. The club informed the university that it is not interested in selling a portion of its land and thus did not accept the offer.

The golf club is not the only location that the university has been considering. Its interest in Highland Bridge, part of a former Ford plant off Cretin Avenue, has been publicized by the news media as one of the locations of interest. And St. Thomas officials said that other locations are also under consideration.

KSTP reported: “Right now we’re focusing on hockey and baseball and softball and those three facilities are contemplated to be the first of those facilities we would need to build,” University of St. Thomas Director of Athletics Phil Esten told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. There would also be room for other facilities, but those three are the immediate priority. Football and basketball will stay in their current locations on campus for now, but the university has to take a long-term view as well.

Fox9 reported: Chief Financial Officer for St. Thomas, Mark Vangsgard, says the university needs space to expand. He says the main St. Paul campus, which sits on nearly 80 acres, can’t support the new sports facilities they need now that their athletic programs are competing in Division I athletics.

One option school leaders are looking into is a development opportunity in the new Highland Bridge development, the site of the former Ford plant. Vangsgard says they’re looking at a 22-acre lot there which could host some of the facility updates they need.

"As we look at Highland Bridge in Highland Park we’re looking at a hockey arena, baseball field, softball field, an indoor baseball/softball practice facility, and a parking structure," Vangsgard said.