Over the last couple of years, the University of Dallas athletic program has seen a large growth in the number of athletes and sports, as well as a great improvement in the quality of play. According to Athletic Director Dick Strockbine this year has seen the largest number of participants in varsity athletics in history, and that number is expected to grow each year. With the growth of the athletic program comes a need to upgrade the facilities for athletics. To meet these demands, the university has put together an Athletic Facilities Committee, consisting of members of the administration, to propose plans to upgrade and increase the quality of facilities and resources for the programs. Dr. John Plotts, vice president of enrollment and student affairs, is a member of the committee. “Our facilities need to catch up to the size of our programs,” said Plotts. Plotts also stated that new facilities would also help to improve the quality of the programs in the future as an attractive recruiting tool to prospective students.
Plotts said there is an overall master plan to upgrade all of the athletic facilities. These plans include improvements to the soccer, baseball and rugby fields, as well as the construction of a track, tennis courts and a new locker room and weight facilities. Proposed plans for the soccer field include leveling out the side by the West Hall so that nicer bleachers with a shaded top and tiered seating that can be built to accommodate a much larger number of spectators. Right now, the estimated cost of the soccer field project is $75,000. Meanwhile a concrete grandstand with seats, and possibly a press box and concession stand, will replace the baseball field bleachers. The committee also hopes to install lights for the fields.
One plan that will require major construction is the goal to construct a new rugby and intramural field that will be to the west of the baseball field and to the north of the lacrosse field. The committee hopes that a track can be constructed around the field as well, to serve both the general student body and also to possibly host track & field meets.
Construction of tennis courts to serve the creation of a tennis team has also been discussed, as well as talks about a natatorium to host the swim club and help it become an NCAA team.
The committee is planning on completing the upgrades in phases. However, all the plans are dependent on receiving funds from potential donors. The current goal is to raise funds to finance any construction with the priority placed on what can have the greatest impact for the lowest cost. Plotts and Strockbine both expressed hope for the improvements to the soccer field to be completed in time for next fall’s Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament, which UD will be hosting. A group of soccer alumni is working with the committee to raise the funds needed for construction.
The committee would like to begin to implement these plans as soon as possible, but any and all construction is dependent on funding. They hope to present plans to donors to gain interest in the projects and hopefully raise the necessary money as soon as possible. These plans are a positive sign for the continued growth of UD athletics and for the growth of the entire university as well.