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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Plans for $21.7M Sporting Facilities Upgrade Unveiled

by Emmeline Elliott
January 25, 2006

The Athletics Department and Office of Campus Recreation proposed a $21.7 million plan for new and upgraded facilities Monday at a Student Allocations Committee meeting.

Director of Athletics Kevin Buisman and Director of Campus Recreation Todd Pfingsten developed the two-phase South Campus Sports Complex and Facilities Plan to tackle five main issues, including the locations and conditions of fields, safety factors, recreation program growth and inadequate space for current programming. They also emphasized that this plan is a draft and is open to negotiation.

“We have a huge facilities crunch,” Pfingsten said about the current space available to the both athletics and campus recreation. He said five years ago 40 percent of students participated in campus recreation activities and now about 60 percent participate.

There are six goals the plan is designed to accomplish: improve campus recreation fields, convert field three to a soccer pitch, build a multi-purpose stadium and a student ice facility, install synthetic turf at Blakeslee and the proposed multi-purpose stadium and add a bubble above Blakeslee and the tennis courts.

The difference between a bubble and a dome is that the bubble is inflated by air and only covers the field area. Adding a bubble above the Blakeslee field permits its use during the winter months and would be like “having a whole new facility,” Pfingsten said, and is a “huge benefit to students and their access to facilities.”

Funding for the project would come directly from the students’ pocket.

“We’re going to be asking for student fee support,” Buisman said. He said while President Davenport and the administration support the plan, the money raised by the administration is focused on academics and they have discouraged a request of funds for the project. Therefore, Buisman said, if the students do not support the proposal, the facilities will not be built and upgraded. Eventually, Buisman and Pfingsten would like the issue to come to a student referendum vote in March.

For the 2005-2006 school year, student fees for a full-time undergraduate are $360 per semester. According to information presented by Buisman and Pfingsten, the anticipated added cost to students in the form of student fees would be $5.55 per credit hour or $155.40 annually. Paying for the construction is expected to affect student fees until 2029.

Buisman and Pfingsten are both sensitive to tuition costs students already face and said academics would also benefit from the new facilities.

“Academics use a lot of our outdoor space as well,” Pfingsten said, citing classes such as tennis and golf.

When deciding what to incorporate during the designing process, Buisman said “if it couldn’t meet the criteria of general student usage” it was not included in the plan they are presenting.

Some upperclassmen might see a part of the plan come to fruition before graduating. Depending on how quickly the plan develops, Buisman said that some facilities could be online as early as next fall.

Buisman said the design would give Minnesota State some of the finest indoor and outdoor facilities.

“This is going to be a point of distinction for our campus,” Buisman said.

“I look at it as a personal investment in health and wellness,” Pfingsten said.

Buisman and Pfingsten are spending this week and the rest of the spring educating students about the proposal and trying to build student support. They will present the project to the student senate at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Centennial Student Union 284.