By Nicholas Vlasin – Staff Writer
For some time now, St. Ambrose students and Davenport residents have heard whispers of a new university athletic complex. With 23 varsity sports, over 700 student athletes and 1,700 on-campus students, the university is pushing to make those whispers a reality.
“We recognize that there is a high need for this [a stadium],” university Vice President of Finance Mike Poster said. “We just don’t have the recreation space we need for a school this size.”
Poster has spearheaded the SAU stadium developments, and is hard at work on this particular project. According to Poster, SAU student-athletes play and practice at 20 different Davenport locations. This statistic alone shows Poster how much an athletic complex would improve the university.
“Athletic teams would no longer have to worry about where they might practice on any given day,” Poster said. “This complex would greatly improve our university.”
Poster and university officials recognize the need for a stadium, but they aren’t rushing to begin construction.
After incidents like the “No SAU Stadium” campaign, St. Ambrose has been quick to listen to concerns. University officials recently met with Davenport residents to discuss some of their concerns, and to show where the university has already improved their plan.
Noise, lighting and parking were some of the neighborhood’s main concerns, and the university believes they have addressed each issue.
“We’ve responded to a lot of concerns, and have made significant concessions to our neighbors,” Poster said.
The stadium was moved to the middle of the complex plan to keep it as far away from the neighborhood as possible. Noise coming from the stadium will fall significantly below the 60 decibel city ordinance, and light hitting the neighborhoods will be darker than moonlight. An on-site parking lot will also keep cars out of the neighborhoods.
Poster says the university will continue to address issues as they come up, but the experts say this project should be a go.
“The experts have said we meet all city requirements, and that this stadium will work in the area we have planned,” Poster said.
On top of the neighbors’ concerns, St. Ambrose has made changes of their own. The original stadium was to accommodate 5,000 fans. That number has been reduced to 2,500. Lights will no longer be placed on the new practice fields, and the entire complex will be fenced in.
So just how close is the university to having its own stadium?
Poster and other university officials hope to have their final plan approved by this coming July. If their hope is realized, two new practice fields will be completed by the fall of 2015. The field and track will be completed by the fall of 2016, and the first, true SAU home games will be held in the fall of 2017.