ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The University of St. Thomas is putting the final touches on its huge new athletic complex which will be open to students next week.
The Anderson athletic and recreation facility was paid for in part by a $60 million donation, the largest single gift ever given by a couple to a college or university in the state. The gift came from Lee and Penny Anderson.
The intersection of Cretin and Summit Aves. in St. Paul it seems has been the site of never ending construction.
But from the mess of the last 15 months, the result is what many consider a crown jewel. Just ask Mark Vangsgard, V.P. of Business Affairs at the University of St. Thomas.
"It's kind of shock and awe... From a student perspective we want them to come here and spend four years, train their minds, the bodies. We want them to come out of here being happy and healthy people. This facility in part will help do that," said Vangsgard as he gave KARE 11 a tour of the facility.
From a state of the art pool and field house to work out facilities and a shiny new arena, the place is a campus centerpiece.
It also includes parts of old St. Thomas as it looks ahead to the future.
Athletic Director Steve Fritz has the best view in the house.
"Our goal is to be a top ten Division 3 facility and this will help us match that goal," said Fritz.
The Anderson facility is just part of a more than $100 million campus overhaul. A new student center will be done by January. A new veranda adds seating to the football field.
And these projects were sort of leap of faith. In a time when the economy was tanking and new construction all but came to a halt, the board of trustees here had a different idea with the help of generous donors.
"Most of them are business people and they know there are times to invest and times not to invest and they decided that even going into this economic condition because of the impact that has our student enrollments...now is the time to invest," says Vangsgard.
The project has turned into its own kind of economic stimulus with some 300 new construction jobs and good prices on materials.
The first piece now ready to become part of Tommie tradition.
"There's like a big energy...ready for school to start," says senior Becky Thiesen.
University officials say they have also addressed parking issues as the new football season is about to start. Two years ago, the school built a large parking ramp to replace parking lost on campus from all the construction.
(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All rights reserved. )