U plans to expand recreation facilities

Plans include sand-volleyball courts, jogging paths and a skateboarding park.

Than Tibbetts

University officials have started planning a recreational sports and athletics facilities expansion project known as University Park.

The project would be a major upgrade to recreational facilities on campus and would offer students a variety of activities, including some not available anywhere else at the University.

Dan Allen, Department of Recreational Sports associate director, said the proposed park would include both “active and passive facilities.” The University plans to renovate and realign Siebert Field, and build sand-volleyball courts, jogging paths, a skateboarding park and two all-season synthetic fields under a dome.

The plan is very preliminary but is designed to present a working view of what University officials said they want to include in the recreation area.

The area would be adjacent to and east of the Bierman athletics complex. University officials said it’s too early to speculate on the cost of the project and where the money will come from.

“I hate to even venture an estimate, because there’s so many variables,” Allen said. “And some of this may be phased. Some of it we may not be able to do all at once.”

The baseball field will cost $7 million to $12 million and could be funded through private donations, officials have said.

A small committee, known as the University Park Predesign Group, met late last month to discuss possible consultant needs and plot out the project’s first steps, said Orlyn Miller, Capital Planning and Project Management Office director.

The predesign group consists of officials from the athletics and recreational sports departments and the Office of Budget and Finance.

The consultants would assist the University with the predesign and conduct a survey of the park’s proposed site, the area between the Bierman athletics complex, Mariucci Arena and Ridder Arena, north of Fifth Street Southeast.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said a predesign has been completed for a new Siebert Field baseball stadium, which would be located in the middle of the park’s proposed plan. That plan would be folded into the full park designs.

“The concept is great. I think it will be a really terrific feature for students,” Allen said. “I was a student here, and I would’ve loved a place like that.”

The Board of Regents approved a conceptual layout of the park in November 2003.