The blueprint sat pinned against the floor between his shoes as Interim President John Plotts displayed a possible addition to the University of Dallas’ sports complexes. In a code of red and blue lines lay the conception of a new rugby pitch.
For this project to become a reality, UD would have to sell the current rugby pitch to Satish and Yasmin Gupta, the UD alumni who funded SB hall, said Plotts.
Since the Guptas’ $12 million donation for the construction of SB Hall in 2014, UD has kept an offer open to the Guptas to purchase the McNab rugby pitch as part of the contribution agreement.
“The Guptas have the opportunity to walk in today and hand us a million dollars and the pitch is theirs,” Plotts said.
The original deadline for the Guptas to purchase the pitch expired on March 30, 2018, said Karin Rilley, General Counsel for the university.
“However, in March of 2018 the university agreed to extend the time for the donor to purchase the rugby field land until March 30, 2019,” said Rilley. “All of these details may still be altered by agreement of the parties, as they were last year and the year before.”
To accommodate the school as well as the needs of the rugby team, the time between the actual transfer of ownership would be extended from 30 to 90 days, Rilley said.
The extension to purchase the pitch by 2019 was offered in order to think of possible projects for the land, said Plotts.
“The Guptas are very generous to the school,” Plotts said. “If they were to purchase the land, they [would want] to cultivate it into something for the university’s use.”
“Former president [Thomas] Keefe proposed the option of a hotel and conference center on the property,” said Plotts. “The board disapproved, however, saying there were already several in the area.”
Plotts has since suggested the idea to create something similar to the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas, with tennis courts, yoga classes and a fitness center.
Plotts welcomes students’ ideas about this proposal. Students should give their feedback to Student Government, he said.
Should the rugby pitch be purchased, the funds from the sale would go directly to the construction of a new pitch to be located adjacent to the new soccer field. A new road would lead to parking around the field, which would ideally be outfitted with a running track in the future.
“One thing I can’t wait to have is real lights on the field,” Plotts said.
The conversation concerning a new rugby pitch has been ongoing for two years, said Plotts. The new pitch would be the first priority. “One million would get me a road and the parking and the rugby field,” said Plotts. “Another million would get me the track.”
Senior rugby player Angelo Novello said he was aware of the school’s desire to sell the rugby pitch, but only through Student Government. As far as he is aware, the administration has had no communication with the rugby team whatsoever.
“From what I know, the school has not communicated through any official channels that they wish to sell the pitch or what their plans are if that sale were to happen,” Novello said.
Novello also said the change in location would bring some change in rugby culture, but the investment in better facilities and properly lit fields would be advantageous.
“We have had a lot of problems with getting burnt-out bulbs replaced and other general maintenance for the current lights,” said Novello. “Also, having a larger shed like the one constructed for the baseball team would be very helpful.”
Cross country captain and track athlete Mary Korth said she had wished that UD would one day invest in a running track.
“I hoped they would, but I had no idea there was an actual plan,” said Korth. “That makes me happy.”
Having a track would benefit the cross country team as well as track.
“On especially muddy days we run in random neighborhoods, and it would be much nicer to have a track,” Korth said.
Having a home track would save the track team four hours of travel time per week to where they usually practice. The team practices at Cistercian when the track is available, but more often drives to Ranchview High School.
Korth also mentioned the opportunity to host meets with a home track and field.