U acquires land for tennis expansion

by Than Tibbetts

A project to expand recreational sports and athletics facilities on the University campus is moving along, although there is still work to be completed.

The University has acquired enough land to expand the Baseline Tennis Center, but officials are still negotiating for land for the University Park Project.

Four outdoor tennis courts will be built north of the tennis center at Fifth Street Southeast, bringing the total number of outdoor courts to 12. This is possible because the University purchased the needed land for $1.35 million from the McLaughlin Gormley King Company, according to Sue Weinberg, the University’s real estate director.

Weinberg said it was important to acquire the property so construction of the tennis courts could begin as soon as possible.

“Our goal is to have the tennis courts by spring of 2006 so we can host the Big Ten women’s tennis tournament,” said Scott Ellison, assistant athletics director.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said having 12 courts will also allow the University to host NCAA Tennis Championships.

Ellison said the tennis court project is still in the early stages of planning. An abandoned building will have to be demolished before construction.

Without outdoor courts for postseason tournaments, Ellison said, the tennis teams lose a competitive edge.

“Anytime you play at home, it’s an advantage,” he said.

He also said the team has adequate indoor and outdoor courts for practice and competition.

Maturi said the University will also benefit by renting out the Baseline Tennis Center and having more space for tennis classes and recreational sports.

University Park

The University also made progress in acquiring land for the University Park Project.

The University plans to renovate and realign Bierman Field, add two all-season synthetic fields under a bubble dome, a skateboarding park, sand-volleyball courts and jogging paths, according to Jim Turman, the assistant vice president of the Department of Recreational Sports.

Weinberg said two pieces of land needed to be purchased for the full project.

“There’s still a lot of work to do before a shovel goes in the ground,” Turman said.

– Brady Averill contributed to this report.