St. Thomas Athletic Facilities Expansion Plans Denied

Landlocked St. Thomas University was looking to expand its footprint in St. Paul, Minnesota as they approached the private Town and Country Club with an unsolicited offer. St. Thomas would pay the club $61.4 million for the purchase of their 96-acre golf course for hockey, baseball, and softball facilities as well as the future growth of the urban University. The Town & Country Club Board of Directors reviewed the offer and unanimously rejected the St. Thomas bid.

Proposed site is less tha a mile to the northwest of the current campus.

The Tommies’ campus currently resides on 78 acres in urban St. Paul. In comparison, Denver operates within 125 acres in south Denver and is limited in its own expansion options for current facilities. In 2014, DU had to demolish several bungalows along High Street to add the much-needed Diane Wendt Sports Fields which are used for club sports and practice fields and the brand-new state-of-the-art Dimond Family Residential Village. It would be hard to imagine DU without those additional improvements today.

The Tommies recently elevated from Division III to Division I and recently joined the Summit League for most of their sports and the CCHA for its brand-new D1 men’s hockey program.  While they are having a rocky season now at 3-32-1, most observers do not expect their poor performance to continue over the long term. The Tommies appear to have a financial war chest for athletics and If UST can resolve their hockey arena situation and improve their on-ice performance, it is not out of the realm of possibility that they join the NCHC someday. Their current situation is not all that different from Arizona State which was left to play at Oceanside Arena until they could build an arena on a former ASU-owned golf course site.

ice arena
The Tommies’ current arena is located in neighboring Mendota Heights and hosts men’s and women’s hockey teams. The facility can hold 1,000 fans plus additional standing room.

The Tommies remain undeterred.

According to an article by KSTP TV, St. Thomas will continue to look locally for parcels in St. Paul. University of St. Thomas Director of Athletics Phil Esten told KSTP, “Ultimately we prefer to stay in the City of St. Paul. We prefer to stay as close to campus as we can and have new facilities for hockey, baseball, and softball built in the next couple of years.”

Top photo courtesy of St. Thomas Athletics

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