By Jerry Briggs
UTSA's Park West Athletics Complex has been recommended to receive $10 million as part of the 2017 city bond election, a spokeswoman for the mayor's office said Wednesday afternoon.
The recommendation by the city staff didn't match the university's request for $25 million, but UTSA athletic director Lynn Hickey said she was pleased with action.
"First thing is, we’re just real excited to be on a list of projects announced by city staff," Hickey said in a telephone interview. "That’s an outstanding step for us, to move forward. I was not at the “B” session today, but we had reports from some of our staff who were there, so we’re very excited to be a part of the process."
UTSA is hoping to build an 80,000-square foot "team facility" at Park West, which would eventually serve about 75 percent of all of the school's student-athletes. The building would house coaches offices, lockers and dressing areas for athletes, and a weight training center.
The "team facility" carries an estimated price tag of $35 million.
Hickey said she is hopeful that as the bond process progresses, UTSA can state its case again for additional funding.
"There’s still a lot of work to do, to visit with the citizens’ committees, to see if there’s any potential for growth (in the dollar figure)," she said. "But to be on that list at that level is a very positive step forward for us."
Citizens committees will meet over the next few months to further examine proposals. City Council is expected to hammer out the ballot language after the new year. The election is scheduled to go to the voters in May 2017.
Park West opened in 2013 as home for UTSA's track and field and women's soccer programs. Eventually, UTSA plans to move most of its teams to the land, located about two miles west of the main campus.
Phase II plans call for construction of the team facility, additional seating added to the track and field stadium, two practice fields for the football team, a "world-class" tennis facility and a softball complex.
The estimated cost for Phase II in its entirety is more than $60 million.
UTSA football coach Frank Wilson said it "means everything" to his program that UTSA administrators are aggressively pursuing funding options for facilities upgrades.
"It's all the reasons why I came to UTSA, to have our administrators, officials, go and fight on behalf of our athletic program, for bond money that will in turn give back to the community, that will create jobs, that will create opportunities for the young men and women of San Antonio," he said. "It pays two ways. We'll receive it, but we'll give back to the city as well."
Asked how it would create jobs, Wilson said staff will be hired to work at the complex as well as jobs created in the construction.
"It's giving back, money into the city," he said.
Wilson said he has seen renderings of the "team facility" complex, and he said, "It's beautiful."
He said having the new training center would help his program "tremendously."
"Right now our city and our people, they're critical (in recruiting)," he said. "Our administration, our coaching staff, our support staff, the student body. (They're) our greatest assets right now. If we can improve (our facilities) our university becomes even more attractive."