St. Thomas will consider a new on-campus hockey facility in its future plans, St. Thomas Athletics announced Tuesday via an email to the campus community.
Phil Esten, vice president and director of athletics at St. Thomas, also updated students, faculty and staff about future plans for off-campus baseball and softball facilities.
“We’ve said from the start we would examine every option to find a solution to best suit the university’s needs,” Esten said. “After exploring multiple off-campus sites, we can confidently say a new on-campus home for hockey is the best path forward.”
Esten shared that the new facility will operate as a “multipurpose facility” open for community engagement opportunities “in addition to serving as a home for our men’s and women’s hockey programs.”
“South campus is the likely destination for such a facility, and earlier this month we issued a formal request for proposal (RFP) to invite prospective design-build partners to submit for the opportunity to bring this to life,” Esten wrote.
St. Thomas junior Rylee Fitzgerald said she is looking forward to the possibility of having on-campus hockey.
“I think that it’s exciting because I personally really like hockey,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s just a little bit of a pain in the butt right now to go to the games. Not everyone has a car so you have to make sure you have a way to get there and all that, so I’m personally really excited.”
With hockey on South Campus, Esten wrote that the softball and baseball teams would likely move off campus to “allow the current baseball and softball field space to be repurposed for other athletic and campus recreation needs (e.g., intramurals and club sports).”
However, Fitzgerald thinks moving the two teams off campus might create issues of equality.
“I get there’s not room, but the whole thing that was unfair about hockey being off campus was that it was off campus and they would have to travel to get to practice and all that; now you’re just creating that issue again,” Fitzgerald said.
Esten wrote that St. Thomas has partnered with St. Paul Port Authority to “begin an environmental cleanup” of the Highland Bridge location near the old Canadian Pacific Railway property. After the environmental cleanup, Esten wrote that St. Thomas has agreed to purchase the property.
However, before building anything, Esten wrote that St. Thomas must have enough funds to support the projects.
“To be financially responsible, we will only finalize plans once we have secured sufficient funds through philanthropy and corporate partnerships,” Esten wrote. “Building infrastructure is hard work, but we have enjoyed the commitment from so many partners – from student and academic affairs to collegiate and business units – in our campus community to support our D-I experience.”
Cam Kauffman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.