Prioritizing the athletic facility upgrades

Now that the plans have been drawn, the athletics department is taking the initiative to raise the money needed to make the facilities upgrade possible. University of Dallas Photo.

Athletics is a fast-growing department at the University of Dallas. Recruiting coordinator Matt Grahn said in an interview last semester that his goal is to have at least a quarter of every incoming freshman class be student-athletes. Along with this growth, however, comes a need for expanded and improved athletic facilities.

In October 2016, the UD athletics department published a press release about a fundraising campaign with the hashtag #InvestinUDSoccer. Executive Vice President John Plotts was recently able to shed some light on what exactly the project entails.

“[It] will do three things: levelling and regrading the field, installing lights and … bleacher seats with some video platforms to [film] games,” Plotts said.

The soccer field, located on the west end of campus beside Clark Hall, does not currently meet standard size and is not completely level. According to Plotts, the field is about one foot too narrow and a couple feet short, and one corner of the field visibly slopes downhill.

Improving the field, adding lights and expanding seating is projected to cost around $750,000. A little over $50,000 has been raised so far.

In addition to attracting donors, the plans for renovations to soccer facilities were part of what drew in the new women’s soccer head coach, Lexi Stinson.

“I don’t know a whole lot about it yet, but I think [it’s] awesome,” Stinson said. “I think it’s awesome for the girls that are here now but also awesome for recruiting and the girls that are looking at UD. I think it’s something that catches your eye.”

Although improvements to soccer facilities are the furthest along, they are not the only renovations planned for the near future. Plotts also discussed plans to significantly upgrade the university’s baseball field.

“Baseball is the next big project,” Plotts said. “We need new seating in the grandstands down there. This is the plan: 336 stadium seats with a press box and roof on the existing site. The second phase – should we be able to raise [the money] – has a plaza with concessions and bathrooms.”

Both phases together are estimated to cost about $2,000,000. Although no money has been raised at this point, Plotts says that having the idea and the drawings is an important part of attracting potential donors.

“We have a couple of people who have expressed interest in a baseball field so [we’re] just getting it in front of them and pitching the idea and seeing what we can raise,” Plotts said.

There is no hard timeline for either project; the goal is simply to start as soon as possible.

“I’d love to start the soccer [field upgrades] as soon as possible,” Plotts said. “Both these projects are really kind of dependent on money. And then the money has to come in to coincide with the season. So if I had all the money for baseball today, we couldn’t start because they’re in the middle of baseball season, so hopefully the money will come together in between seasons so we can begin the project.”

In the long term, there are several more projects Plotts would like to see accomplished, including a track, new tennis courts, a larger gym and a field house.

“Eventually it’s my goal to move the intramural/rugby pitch over to [the west] side of campus and build a track,” Plotts said, explaining plans to clear out the woods beside the lacrosse field and build more parking and a new rugby pitch surrounded by an NCAA regulation track, which he estimates would cost another $2,000,000.

An empty site on the other side of the lacrosse field is reserved for what Plotts hopes will one day be “a series of tennis courts so that we can have a tennis team.”

Two more needs that Plotts says the committee on athletic facilities hopes to address in the future are the need for a larger gym and for a field house between the baseball and softball fields that could house equipment, coaches’ offices, and perhaps a weight room reserved for athletes.

“The priorities right now are soccer, baseball, track, tennis and then field house,” Plotts said, emphasizing the conceptual nature of the latter three. “Now if somebody came in with $5,000,000 and wanted to build a field house tomorrow, then that would become the number one priority.”



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