St. Thomas should build tennis courts to increase college appeal

Recently, St. Thomas administrators have discussed building tennis courts in the green space just to the west of Brady Educational Center.  Although some neighbors vehemently disagree, building the tennis courts would be a good idea.

St. Thomas is attempting to build up its athletic facilities with the introduction of the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex. Building regulation-size tennis courts would complete this renovation. A large and successful athletic program will benefit the university in the future.

<p>(Courtesy of the University of St. Thomas)</p>
(Courtesy of the University of St. Thomas)

As much as some people hate to admit it, athletics play a major role in the success of colleges. Athletics put colleges on the map. Because athletics appeal to many people in the United States, successful sports teams act as advertisements for colleges.

More people hear about a school with a successful athletic team because it allows the name of the school to spread to a larger audience than if another aspect of the college is successful.  When sports teams are successful, they usually play teams from other parts of the country as they pass levels of playoffs, such as the 2010 volleyball season.

Many demographics watch sports, so having a good athletic program makes a college appeal to a lot of people. In this way, a sense of community develops between the university and those who support its sports teams, instead of only between the university and its students. Also, this provides more opportunities for potential donors to find out about the university.

In order to have good athletics teams, the university needs to recruit skilled athletes, and to recruit those athletes, the university needs up-to-date athletic facilities. Therefore, high quality athletic facilities tend to help athletic teams become better. Through these tennis courts, St. Thomas will be more attractive to highly-skilled tennis athletes.

I love the green space behind BEC just as much as anyone else. I have two classes in BEC and would rather look out on the trees and green space of that area than at people playing tennis. However, St. Thomas has every right to build tennis courts in that spot, even if the neighborhood does not agree. St. Thomas was not created to be a neighborhood park; it is a functioning university with an active focus on athletics.

Tennis courts would benefit the university’s athletic foundation, which would in turn help the university, benefiting both the students and the neighborhood in the process.

Maggie Clemensen can be reached at

33 Replies to “St. Thomas should build tennis courts to increase college appeal”

  1. !?! I strongly disagree, this sounds like a horrible idea:
    1) As someone who admits to having class in BEC, you should know first hand that the university is not committed to the upkeep of anything that far south.  As it is, when my grandmother (who is paying my tuition and should basically be considered a donor) comes from Texas to visit I do not take her to tour south campus.  As a music major, I would be ashamed if she saw the condition of the building that is reserved for my major coursework.
    2) We just built an athletic center.  It is big.  Athletes are coming and will continue to come just because of it.  It has tennis courts.
    3) It is time the University spend money on something else.

  2. The tennis courts in the AARC are nice but they were made with an all purpose surface and the ball bounces completely differently from that of a regular tennis court. Which does explain the need for the new tennis courts. As an athlete on campus I really do think that all sports should have the same opportunities as the other sports on campus.

  3. Yes, Tennis courts are needed at St.Thomas. Not just for the thirty/forty varsity players and P.E. classes, but for the hundreds of tennis playing; students, staff and faculty. As reported, by the USTA Northern Section, tennis playing numbers are on the rise. To cut off this growing group would be short-sighted. One would have to look far and wide to find any College/University without outdoor tennis courts.

  4. Is anybody else concerned about losing all of that beautiful, open green space? Some of my fondest freshman year memories involve tossing discs right smack dab where you’re proposing those tennis courts.

    You’d have to look far and wide to find a college without outdoor tennis courts, eh? You know what else you’d have to look far and wide for? A college without a quad. AARC and the new student center are making *dangerous* encroachments on our’s….we need to keep all of the quad we have left. 

    Maybe the university could build an underground ramp and some tennis courts on top where they have parking lots now? i.e., right by McCarthy gym? Then, they could justify jacking up prices for their parking passes to even more exorbitant extremes. We all already know how much they *love* to do that….

  5. Also, didn’t we kinda sorta used to have outdoor tennis courts?

    What ever happened to those?

    Oh, wait….darn…

  6. Mark,
    I agree.  I think the University has done enough for athletics recently that something like tennis courts, especially when they are met with such hostility from surrounding neighbors and some students, is unnecessary.  I think that the green space behind the BEC is a beautiful place to relax or take it the sunset.  With a brother currently going through the high school recruitment process currently, I can confidently say that the AARC is more than enough to visually impress recruits.  Why not throw some money elsewhere?  At the same time, if a donor were to give money for the purpose of building tennis courts, then I would have no problem with it.
    The University has already spent $60 million on a new athletic center, why not give some other areas some lovin’?

  7. “As much as some people hate to admit it, athletics play a major role in the success of colleges.”

    Pending your criteria of success… 

    Either way, I’ve abandon my crusade against the tenis courts. 

  8. In the open forum with UST administrators, they did say the $800,000 was relatively locked down. When building the Anderson Parking Ramp, they allocated money for replacing the tennis courts, so that is what the money has to go to. That being said, I still disagree with building the tennis courts in that particular location. 

  9. Why not spend money on a performing arts center. We have choral/instrumental majors and we used to have a theater program, what we don’t have is “Tennis Majors”. Build a performing arts center on South Campus and give people with “academically based talent” something to be proud of! Why, if we build tennis courts on our ever disappearing green space on campus, soon the Hockey team and an indoor arena will be next, and so on and so forth.

  10. Landon, St. Thomas is already planning do address the lack of good facilities for performing arts as a part of the capital campaign (see It isn’t on south campus, but it’s better than nothing.
    There really isn’t space for tennis courts anywhere else on campus. I have enjoyed the green space behind BEC; I also enjoy playing tennis, and playing inside on a nice day is almost like torture. These tennis courts are something that the campus really needs.

  11. If we were just going to build outdoor courts anyway, why the expenditure on the indoor courts in the AARC, which apparently don’t even work right if Dan’s post is accurate?

    To answer your question, Stephen, you’re not alone. That’s some great green space there.

    IN OTHER NEWS: The UST Quiz Bowl team will be asking for $800,000 in its budget request next semester. We will use the money to build a Secret Quiz Bowl Lair underneath the median on Summit Avenue. We will need this Lair to hide from Campus Security (“C-Sec”) once they find out we’ve been spending club funds on Subversive Catering Activities and ordering (gasp!) Davanni’s pizza at meetings.

  12. DISCLAIMER: As of this writing, the Quiz Bowl team has not violated any campus spending policies, and has no plans to do so now or in the future. Unless the campus actually grants us that $800,000 request, in which case anything goes. :P

  13. Steph, These courts are not on the “Quad”, eh. Love the green area around BEC,but the plans seem to bring an even better park area. More trees and bushes would be planted. Mark, You and your Texas grandmother can still make sweet music in the new area. St. Thomas does an excellent job keeping the campus in fine condition. Just check out other schools to see what average is like. A big yes to the Tennis Courts is a big yes to all in the St.Thomas community.

  14. t.j.– they’re not on the north campus quad, but for all intents and purposes, they would be on the ‘south campus’ quad. that area as is provides good access to the grotto and the war memorial. it is literally the closest thing that we have to a campus park as is, so if you want to maintain a parkland on campus, why mess with success?

  15. @ James: good to know I am not alone on my “area behind bec” love.

    @Landon: Totally agree that we need to reinvest in our arts program. Losing the theater department was a tough and perhaps unnecessary blow. It’s good to see that UST is making that a priority in the Opening Doors Campaign (although the link didn’t work for me….?)

    @Mark: When you say that it is “almost torture” to play tennis indoors on a nice day, it seems like you are speaking from the perspective of somebody who is pretty serious about his tennis. Am I correct to make that inference? You are in the vast minority of students who is truly “tortured” by having to play tennis inside instead of outdoors. Me, personally, I don’t care for playing or watching the sport and never have. However, there is at least a much larger minority of students who would be upset if tennis courts were installed behind bec– for reasons already mentioned, and more. if it is one thing that being required to take 8 credits of philosophy ought to teach us, it is that it is silly to sacrifice the common good for the comfort of the very few.

    Besides, how many “nice days” do we actually get in Minnesota, anyway? ;)

  16. Steph, The common good is to have outdoor tennis courts. Over two hundred students/staff/faculty would use them. Not to mention the thirty some varsity players, neighbors and PE classes. There are over four hundred of our St Thomas Community that have signed on to having these tennis courts. One can think that’s a common good number.

  17. The tennis courts (from plans) would beautify the area and would be a big plus to all of the UST community. Tennis is a lifetime sport and source of fitness. Some state, St. Thomas Tennis Teams are successful without courts, but this is because of the legendary Coach Peck. They are needed for; continued success, neighbors and students. Mainly it would just be a benefit to so many in the UST community. Great to see all the Alumni and Seniors adding support even though they will, like me, never use the courts. Many thanks to the TerBear.

  18. T.J., I bet we could get 400 students from Flynn hall to sign for a recreational pool to be built in the same place that can only be used for their enjoyment, but I’m not sure that it would constitute a “common good number.”  I am also unsure where people are coming up with the argument that this is good for our neighbors and the community since they are fighting against it.  
    James H, after reviewing a chart showing the rapid growth of Quiz Bowl over the past few decades, I believe that the $800,000 should go to your group.  After all, Universities are not built because they are the heart of Athleticism, but rather because they are places of Academic Enlightenment, where people pay money to learn and not to spend the 3 warm months of the year playing sports.

  19. Mark, A Flynn Hall resident only outdoor pool? Did you forget your Grandmother or any of other students/staff/faculty/neighbors that wished to use your pool. The tennis courts would be open for all to use. It was also pointed out that over a hundred neighborhood people were members of the former tennis club on south campus. The neighborhood group you hang on to is against almost anything UST wants to do with its land. Maybe you could get 300 to sign for a, boys only, music patio too. Go in Peace.

  20. As posted by Mark, “After all, Universities are not built because they are the heart of Athleticism, but rather because they are places of Academic Enlightenment, where people pay money to learn and not to spend the 3 warm months of the year playing sports.”

    Honestly, I understand that school are about academics, but the tennis courts being there would bring in a lot more money as our tennis teams become more and more competitive each year as a result of having top of the line access. The reason there isn’t a grand new performing arts center being put up for the school is because a majority of the students and alumni do not demand that as part of our school. To everyone who is against the tennis courts, it isn’t our choice where that money goes since it is all donated by the Andersons. St. Thomas hasn’t been secretly spending extra money on putting up these buildings and we should feel good knowing that alumni want to help us with that. I think athletics should remain a huge focus because that will help our school keep working its way into national attention which will increase the value of all of our degree.

  21. It’s too bad that we lose that green space behind BEC, but i guarantee a majority of the school wants those tennis courts. It’s good excercise and since people play frisbee or whatever behind there, it would be a better chance for students to have more access to healthy activities. I’m around here all summer and i rarely see huge groups of St. Thomas students reading, or playing music out behind BEC so tennis courts would increase that areas use during the summer.

    @Stephen: The very few in this case would be the people defending this area. And the entire summer and spring in this state usually make for good tennis weather and people playing tennis would sure put this area to more use than it has been. If people in the area are fighting so hard against it then tell them to start donating to our school like the Andersons and help us out with our school. There isn’t a good reason not to have the tennis courts, because more people would benefit from them being there than not having them at all.

  22. The area isn’t even big enough to hold competitions and the terrain is awful. Why does the school feel the need to ruin the last small area of beauty on south campus? Since we’re talking about “the bounce being bad or unfair,” I’m going to go ahead and take this as an invitation to talk about the music department.
    Did you know that UST can’t host musicians or ensembles that want to come, nor can our ensembles even perform on campus, thanks to our lack of a performing arts building? We built a new athletic center so that we could host other schools- so why does the music department keep getting the shaft of everything? All of our practice rooms are too small, therefore we can only practice in them for about 20 minutes before hearing damage sets in. Our choir is held in a room that barely can fit us all and the acoustics are unimaginable. All of our voice majors are put into rooms with mold in the ceiling, probably affecting our lungs. The seminary owns the BEC and the music department owns literally THREE CLASSROOMS on campus and we’re often kicked out of practice rooms because our practicing is “too loud” and is disrupting them.
    You want to talk about throwing more money at the athletics without fixing some of these issues? I’m absolutely appalled about these…

  23. …priorities! I came to St. Thomas because of the nationally known music instructors. I am so proud of our music department but something needs to be done about these BASIC issues instead of tossing more money to the athletics.

  24. And I’m sorry, and no disrespect, but…
    “Almost torture” is
    – Driving to St. Kate’s just to see our bands perform.
    -Never being able to practice my major instrument because the music department has 5 practice rooms for the entire department.
    – Ruining my ears (the essence of my future job as a music educator) in the puny practice rooms
    -Knowing that UST’s chamber choir that got invited to the National ACDA competition in Chicago this year is practicing in a basement room that can barely fit the choir.
    I’m sorry to go off like this, but there are lot worse situations on campus than playing inside on a nice day and the priorities on this campus are ridiculous.

  25. Becca, Please put in some leg work (in research) and you need not be so sorry. A few thoughts for your take: money was given for these Athletic improvements, the outdoor courts have been taken away x3 with the promise of future replacement; varsity tennis teams can’t play NCAA,MIAC or ITA matches in the AARC, with most St.Thomas Teams, PE classes, Clubs and Varsity Tennis there is little if no time for all the students,staff,faculty and neighbors that wish to play tennis in AARC, you chose St.Thomas knowing of the musical dept. facilities……………………………and “driving to St.Kates” is torture……….the Tennis Teams would run to St. Kates, they have been going to Highland Park, University of Mn., Lifetime Fitness Moore Lake, and SPA … 7am, 6pm or 9pm daily. But Becca, The Music Dept.’s needs are for a another report. One can’t help but feel the disrespect of some of these comments.

  26. As high quality athletic facilities DO indeed help students become better, I think there are definitely other things the university could be spending the money on. As Becca said, the music department totally needs renovations, but let’s not forget some of the older dorms which really need a major mend. (Mend is kind of an understatement).
    Off topic but, what if they charge for tennis balls? That would suck!

  27. @Mark:  Huzzah!  I love that chart!

    As a general note, somebody mentioned that 400 UST people have signed on to the courts.  That’s out of a total of 12793 students, faculty, and staff, or 3.1% — and came from a push poll, which casts some doubt on even that modest number.  At this point, I would not presume to say one way or another what the majority of students want, nor what the common good is.

    I wonder whether the Andersons would be interested in donating to renovations for our music department, if only someone in the administration or on the Board of Trustees explained to them how bad it is over there.  BEC is in worse shape than the Summit Classroom Building, which is saying something.

  28. I think it is important to note this- the administration is not saying, “would you like tennis courts or something else (perhaps more expensive)?”  Straight forward- do you want tennis courts? So, with no regard to the condition of other buildings on campus (which I agree need attention) or financial aid, do you have an objection to the building of tennis courts?  The money is set aside for the courts already.  

    James, as to the 400 that have signed onto the courts here out of 12,000.  I question the use of the 12,000.  That includes all graduate students, faculty, and staff who do not necessarily pay to use the athletic center.  How many people use the athletic center, and how many out of those people have played tennis?  That would be much more accurate.

    As to the neighbors not being happy about the tennis courts- I’m never happy when there is construction in my neighborhood, and St. Thomas seems to be becoming the endless construction project.  I’m sure some neighbors objected to the student center as well, and I believe it will be a welcomed addition to campus by students.

  29. Elizabeth is right on. The Athletic Building was a negative in some minds, but now is a plus for all current students. Not to mention a huge plus in helping bring in top students. The new student center will be as well. St.Thomas is headed in the right direction with the Tennis Courts too. With UST Teams, staff, faculty, students and neighbors using them. They will also attract many top students (as mentioned in past article Tennis Team GPA was over 3.50) to UST. With the AARC and new Student Center there will be even less need for students to have cars on campus (helping with that issue). Since the money is set aside for tennis courts and the need is there………please get it done.

  30. I used the 12,000 number because ALL of the university community is directly financially impacted by every funding decision the school makes, and *almost* everyone would be affected by removal of St. Paul campus green space. I’m sure the tennis players are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about these courts, but they are no more representative of the full university community than San Francisco is representative of the United States political climate. (No offense to the tennis team is intended.)

    Now, I don’t know what the university as a whole thinks about the new courts, and I don’t think anyone else knows, either. From this thread, I sense mixed feelings punctuated by passionate soliloquies from the most tennis-inclined. And I fear that many of us are conflating the opinions of “my social group” and the opinions of the university community as a whole. For instance, Kelly’s that the athletic building is “now a plus for all students” is *emphatically* false among the students I talk to, who consider it (variously) a waste of money, an attack on the liberal arts, and an ugly eyesore.

    My point is, simply declaring this proposal popular doesn’t make it so. It might still be the best plan — I don’t know — but it’s certainly not a widely popular one at this time…

  31. James, AARC is a plus for all students. Any student can use the workout areas, run the track, play basketball, volleyball and many other activities. Like any “plus” there are those who may not use it, but they can. Students that you talk to say it’s “an attack on the liberal arts and an ugly eyesore”. Now that is truely a small group. Our support of the Tennis Courts goes behond just tennis players. As the polls taken here which showed x2 in favor of the courts. From what I’ve seen only two current tennis players have commented on the tennis court threads. Many here, supporting the tennis courts, are not “tennis-inclined”. ……………………………………and I am one of them.

  32. Since there is a fund all ready to go for the tennis courts, I’d be super cool with them building tennis courts because what’s done is done… but I don’t want them to put them on the ONE thing the BEC can be proud of. (along with tennis courts, why don’t we just throw an ice skating rink in the freaking grotto by the BEC and take that away from the BEC, too?) Redo the freaking tennis courts in the AARC or something… keep the athletics WITH the athletics!

    I just want to raise awareness for the future that enough money has been put into the extra-curricular and now it’s time to focus on the student subject matter since we’re paying just as much as anyone else and don’t even have the basic, very necessary facilities that are required for musicians.

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