Regents to

Jeremy Taff

While regents rush to build a new soccer stadium to comply with federal law, community leaders say they feel forced to host the complex, the planning for which violates University policy.
Although Board of Regents members will likely pass a proposal Thursday to build a women’s soccer stadium in fall 1999, residents and city officials of Falcon Heights, the facility’s slated location, say they don’t want the $2 million complex in their community.
“The University is an elephant with us in a row boat,” said Bob Anderson, president of the Neighbors of the St. Paul Campus, a group formed after news of the proposed soccer stadium broke in April. “They’re trying to capsize us with their sheer bulk and autonomy and the regents need to save us.”
The plan calls for a 48-foot tall, 1500-spectator stadium to be built 30 feet from some residents’ property lines. Residents complain the stadium would be located too close to homes, pose danger to pedestrians from increased traffic and not include enough parking.
But Regent Tom Reagan, chairman of the Facilities Committee said the University must build a women’s soccer complex to show support for women’s athletics.
“This shows everybody that those women are an official team and have similar equipment and buildings as men have for their athletic programs,” Reagan said. “We have no choice here; we’re going to get it done and comply with the law.”
Reagan said federal law states that the University must have a certain percentage of money committed to, and students participating in, women’s athletics. The state Legislature gave the University $1.2 million in April to build the complex. A private donor also gave $800,000 in June so construction of the facility could begin, said Susan Hoyt, Falcon Heights city administrator.
Regent David Metzen visited the proposed site for the stadium Tuesday. He said he expects the proposal to pass at the regents meeting Thursday, but added that regents will consider viable alternatives for the site even after passing the proposed project.
“If the mayor would come up with something super, sure we’d consider it,” Metzen said. “It isn’t like Saturday morning the bulldozers are going out there.”
Falcon Heights community leaders have said the proposed site for the stadium violates the University’s Master Plan, the blueprint for ideal use of University’s assets.
“We felt in good faith they’d let us know if they changed the plan,” said Hoyt, who sat on the Master Plan Advisory Committee. “But they changed the rules and didn’t follow it.”
Hoyt said the Master Plan does not suggest an athletic recreation facility be built on the St. Paul campus. It does allow for soccer fields and open space in the area of the proposed stadium, Hoyt said.
“It does not violate the Master Plan,” Metzen said. “I’m hoping that by Thursday we can come up with something we all can live with.”