ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Steve Fritz, the athletic director at the University of St. Thomas, admitted it was time four years ago for the athletic facilities at the small private college in St. Paul to get a facelift.
Calling the renovation project that followed a “facelift” is a gross understatement. The plan had been talked about going back as far as 25 years, but a major financial contribution from a generous couple got the project the jumpstart it needed.
Lee and Penny Anderson donated $60 million for the construction of what is now the Anderson Athletics and Recreation Complex.
Construction for the Anderson Athletic Complex and Recreation Center, which cost $52 million, began about four years ago. It was finished before the 2010 Tommie football season. And after walking through it, you might think you were on a Division I campus if you didn’t know any better.
“The upgrades are unbelievable,” said Fritz. “To know where we’ve come from to get to where we are now, it’s truly amazing.”
The athletics complex is 180,000 square feet, with a remodeled Schoenecker Arena that fits up to 2,000 fans for basketball and volleyball games. There’s also a huge field house on the second level with a six-lane, 200-meter track and full video board. A brand new swimming pool with eight lanes and two levels of spectator seating was built, and perhaps most impressive are the workout facilities.
The pictures include more from the state-of-the-art weight room, the new basketball arena and the field house. You’ll also notice that the court has been appropriately named “Steve Fritz Court” to honor the legendary Tommies basketball coach.
The complex features one large room specifically for lifting weights and various forms of weight training. Another equally as large room has dozens of treadmills and elliptical machines for cardiovascular training. Every piece of equipment was a brand new, state-of-the-art purchase.
The administrative offices are on the top level of the complex, and each head coach has their own office. All the upgrades and new features bring one common goal to St. Thomas: Overall excellence in athletics.
“We definitely want to be ahead when it comes to facilities,” said Fritz. “We want to be the ones other schools are trying to get closer to. Being the one schools are chasing is a good place to be.”
And it’s no surprise that with the renovations come a resurgence in the overall athletic program. St. Thomas celebrated its first season in its new basketball arena with a Division III men’s basketball national championship in Fritz’s final season as head coach.
With the hire of Glenn Caruso to run the football program in 2008, the Tommies have been to the NCAA Division III Playoffs two straight years and won the MIAC in 2010 for the first time since 1990. And the program isn’t going anywhere as they’re ranked No. 4 in preseason Division III polls.
At least at the Division III level, St. Thomas appears to be in a class by itself when it comes to its athletic facilities. The Anderson Athletics Complex and Recreation Center is living proof.