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ST, PAUL, MN-The University of St. Thomas has plans to create a new athletic complex and student center here and has tapped Opus to design and construct the facilities. The two additions to the campus are reported to cost $118 million, according to a bulletin put out by the university.

Opus will begin moving forward with the $52 million Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex in after graduation in May, now that the plans have been approved by The University of St. Thomas Board of Trustees. The complex will be built east of St. Thomas’ football stadium and on the existing location of Schoenecker Arena, Coughlan Field House and Foley Theater, which will all be leveled in the construction process. The $66 million student center is still waiting for final board approval.

“Our athletic facilities, some dating to the 1930s and last upgraded in 1981, once were adequate for a much smaller student body,” says Father Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas, in the bulletin. “Our facilities simply have not kept pace with our growth or the kinds of facilities now found at other Minnesota colleges. We are building for the future and to ensure the long-term success of the university. These new facilities will be among the finest in our conference and in the region.”

Talks of constructing a new athletic center and student center first started last October, but plans were put on hold as board members were concerned about being able to raise the needed funds during the current economic condition. But through a capital campaign, money did begin to surface for the projects.

The athletic complex, which is being named after Lee and Penny Anderson who donated $60 million for the project, will hold a 2,000-seat basketball arena, an eight-lane, 25-meter swimming pool, a field house with a 200-meter indoor track, as well as fitness and weight training spaces. Construction on the 180,000-square-foot facility is expected to complete in the fall of 2010, although a specific date has not yet been pegged.

“This is another great chapter in Opus’s partnership with St. Thomas, and it’s the culmination of several years of collaboration and planning,” says Mark Rauenhorst, Opus chairman and CEO. “We’re essentially putting a new front door on the campus with this building, and when it’s finished, the university will have the facilities to compete with any school for top scholars and athletes.”

The $66-million, 240,000-square-foot student center, which will go before the board next year for approval, could begin to come out of the ground as early as fall 2010, with completion by February 2012. The current Cretin-Summit parking lot has been chosen as the site for the future Anderson Student Center.

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