Neighbors concerned about new tennis court location

St. Thomas has proposed the construction of six tennis courts on the south campus at Mississippi River Boulevard and Goodrich Avenue, but some neighbors are worried about the potential loss of green space.

St. Thomas has proposed the construction of six tennis courts behind Brady Educational Center. (Zach Pagano/TommieMedia)

The university has planned to build new tennis courts since the old tennis courts were removed to make room for the south campus parking ramp, said Doug Hennes, vice president for university and government relations. But some St. Thomas neighbors have not reacted positively to the recent proposal, he added.

“It’s a sensitive and difficult issue,” Hennes said.

According to Hennes, a rumor circulating around the community is that St. Thomas isn’t allowed to build at the proposed site. Hennes denied that and said people were misinformed. St. Thomas and the community agreed about how far buildings could be from the road in 1995 when the retirement home for priests was built, Hennes said. He said some people were misled by this and believed that anything south of that area was off-limits to construction, which was not true.

Scott Banas, West Summit Neighborhood Advisory Committee co-chair, said neighbors are concerned about losing the open space.

“They enjoy and appreciate the green space in the area,” Banas said. “They certainly utilize that space in activities with their children. The space adds a spot of natural neighborhood, which is becoming more and more scarce because of the high commercialized and high traffic area on campus.”

“I think that the neighbors feel a sense of loss and worry about all the construction,” he said.

Banas believes the courts could be a positive addition if they will be available for neighborhood use. The university has proposed a tennis club could be held on the courts, and neighbors could join the club.

St. Thomas men’s and women’s tennis coach Terry Peck said he feels differently about the proposal.

“It’s very important for our tennis teams to have tennis courts,” Peck said. “As of now, we don’t have any home tennis matches.”

Peck also said that St. Thomas is the only school in the MIAC without outdoor tennis courts.  Peck said the courts would benefit not only the tennis program, but the whole St. Thomas community.

Peck said the courts would also be a green use of the space behind the Brady Educational Center, similar to a bike trail. He said he does not understand the fuss that St. Thomas’ neighbors are making.

“I think opponents might be taking a very narrow view without looking at the big picture,” Peck said. “When we had tennis courts, they were used by the entire community.”

A final decision will not be made until spring on whether the courts will be constructed and when construction will start. The WSNAC Campus Development Subcommittee will review the proposal Tuesday, Nov. 2, in the BEC auditorium. Neighbors are invited to attend and give their input.

Ariel Kendall, Ashley Stewart, Nathan Spencer, Zach Pagano, and Ryan Shaver contributed to this article.

Gina Dolski can be reached at

4 Replies to “Neighbors concerned about new tennis court location”

  1. After spending $60 million on a new athletic facility and another large chunk on the renovation of McCarthy, St. Thomas wants to spend even more to tear out a bunch of hundred year old trees and put in tennis courts?  Last time I walked by the new athletic center (which is very nice, might I add), I saw people playing tennis in the field house.  Are these courts not usable?  This seems like it should be a non-priority when classroom buildings like the BEC are in disrepair.  Heck, the best part about it is the back yard where they want to put tennis courts!

  2. As far as trees are concerned, only about thirty will be removed while more than fifty will be added. Comparing tennis courts to the McCarthy and Anderson projects also puts into perspective how little money actually needs to be spent on courts. 800 grand does not hold a candle to 60 million. Also it is a of a one time purchase since tennis courts require next to no effort to maintain. Tennis courts are certainly not an eye sore either, and if you look at the plans it is evident that the nature aspect is a theme of these courts because there will be no parking lot or actual road going to them. They will also be enclosed by trees. The courts in the Anderson center are usable… if you can get them. At most the Anderson has two courts set up, and that is not all the time. Also the field house where they are located plays host to a large number of intramural and varsity sporting events or practices. The tennis community at St Thomas is huge. Looking at the varsity tryouts alone there have been upwards of 40 new students trying out for both the mens’ and womens’ squads for the past three years with only room for maybe six new members each season. UST is the only school in the MIAC where the rest could have gone where they can no longer persue their tennis interests properly.

  3. Outdoor Tennis at St. Thomas has been a place where people play and work together, bound by a cohesive past and looking to the future. Our St.Thomas Tennis Club in the past has had over one hundred members in the St. Paul community who used the former outdoor tennis courts. Eleven of the community children have moved on to play College Tennis and one is now an ass’t coach at St. Thomas. These tennis courts will enrich our community and remove a barrier a few want to sponge from. For the future It’s about Health. Health to our students and Health to our community.

  4. As a point of clarification, the new courts in McCarthy are an all purpose surface that is NOT approved by the MIAC. This means that they cannot be used for conference matches.

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