Guptas to purchase rugby pitch

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A plaque on the rugby pitch remembers Robert C. MacNab.

Satish and Yasmin Gupta have exercised their option to purchase the rugby pitch for $1 million, according to Interim President Dr. John Plotts.

A tentative close date for the sale has been set for late June. At this point, the Guptas have not communicated construction timelines or building ideas to him, Plotts said.

When the Guptas gave $12 million to build SB Hall in 2014, their contract with the University of Dallas gave them the ability to buy this land.

“Some might say we were getting $13 million,” Plotts said.

Last spring, the deadline to purchase was extended from Mar 30, 2018, to Mar 30, 2019.

Plotts said the deadline was extended to allow time for brainstorming projects for the land in a University News article published Sept. 26, 2018, and he suggested the idea to create something similar to the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

“[It would be] for the public,” Plotts said of any future development. But last week Plotts said that he had not recently discussed with the Guptas about their plans for the space.

The 2014 contract prohibits the Guptas from building businesses of a retail or convenience store nature, Provost Dr. Jonathan Sanford explained. By including these restrictions, UD administration hoped to see something built for the larger community.

“Convenient shops and things that were going to attract people for a quick stop were excluded,” said Sanford. “It has to be something that’s more substantial and … enhancing more of a neighborhood feel.”

While the contract includes some restrictions, it still leaves freedom for the Guptas to choose what they will build, said Sanford.

“It doesn’t mean we get a say in what actually happens,” Sanford said. “We have the exclusions for things that are clearly not nice to have near campus.”

Ultimately, UD only maintains the power of suggestion, Sanford said.

The transition between construction on the current pitch and the building of a new pitch is not included in the contract, Sanford wrote in an email.

“There is no assurance that we would not lose use of that field immediately,” Sanford wrote. “We will be asking the Guptas to give us the time we need, but there is not a contractual guarantee.”

Sanford said he is aware of Student Life and Athletic’s need for adequate spaces, including fields, a track and tennis courts.

“Those are things I would love to see clustered around a new rugby pitch,” Sanford said of UD’s future construction plans. “Our hope was to be able to do more than just [build a new pitch].”

The money made from the $1 million dollar sale will go directly to the creation of a new rugby pitch, Sanford said. The cost of a track surrounding the future pitch will have to find other funds.

“Maybe we could find a donor,” Sanford said.

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