U athletics facilities expansion nears

Than Tibbetts

The University now owns all of the property for a proposed project to expand recreational sports and athletics facilities.

The three parcels of land are in the area between the Bierman athletic complex and Mariucci and Ridder arenas, north of Fifth Street Southeast.

The land will be used to expand the Baseline Tennis Center and for a new development called University Park.

The University’s plans for the recreation area are to renovate and realign Bierman Field, and build two all-season synthetic fields under a bubble dome, sand-volleyball courts, jogging paths and a skateboarding park.

Sue Weinberg, the University’s real estate director, said the first part of the project to be completed will be four tennis courts on the parcel of property formerly owned by the McLaughlin Gormley King Co. The University purchased this property in September for $1.35 million.

Athletics officials said they hope to have the new tennis courts completed in time to host the Big Ten women’s tennis tournament in 2006. The Baseline Tennis Center currently has eight of the 12 courts needed to hold tournaments.

Weinberg said the building on the property is being prepared for demolition as electricity and other utilities to the building will be cut off in the near future. The building is currently boarded up and covered in graffiti.

The University is in the middle of a legal contest regarding the purchase price of the parcel of property formerly owned by Union Pacific Railroad.

Both parties appealed the state commissioner’s award of $293,000, which determines how much the University will have to pay Union Pacific Railroad. The railroad company valued the property at approximately $1 million, while the University’s appraiser said it was worth $162,000, said Weinberg and Brian Slovut, the University associate general counsel.

Both parties will go to mediation in the next few months, and the case could go to trial in October, Slovut said.

The University can claim ownership of the land because Union Pacific Railroad was paid three-fourths of the commissioner’s award.

The University paid $800,000 for the third parcel of land, formerly owned by Lorraine Larson, who received the land from her late husband, Edward Larson.