By Celine Klosterman
DAVENPORT — St. Ambrose University has revealed preliminary plans for an athletic complex on 44 acres of property formerly owned by the Diocese of Davenport.
The university’s vision calls for a football stadium with a track and field facility, basketball and sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, a baseball field, softball field, two soccer fields, several practice fields, a weight room and multiple parking lots. Estimated cost is $30 million.
Designs show the complex neighboring St. Vincent Center, diocesan headquarters, as well as the Humility of Mary Center and Assumption High School.
No timeline exists for the facilities’ completion. St. Ambrose now is seeking a special use permit from the City of Davenport’s Zoning Board of Adjustment to create a small parking lot on the southern part of the university’s property. In a year or two, practice fields on the east side may be added, said Jane Kettering, university spokeswoman.
Fundraising is several years away, she said.
The university needs the complex to benefit students and further St. Ambrose’s recruitment efforts, Kettering said. University athletes currently use 11 off-campus sites, including Vander Veer Botanical Park in Davenport, Assumption High School and soccer fields in Muscatine. The land-locked university is competing against institutions with facilities similar to those St. Ambrose plans, and the complex will be a “critical recruitment piece,” she said.
The university has 22 varsity sports teams.
St. Ambrose seeks to improve water runoff issues on the site of the planned facilities and study options regarding parking and traffic.
Usage hours would be curbed to reduce noise and light, according to a presentation the university gave local residents last month. Public use is under consideration.
Neighbors to the planned complex have passed out flyers urging people to voice their opinions about it.
One concerned resident is Linda Pollentier, who has lived for six years in her current home on West 29th Street, “right across the street” from the proposed facilities.
“The traffic will mess up our relatively quiet neighborhood,” she said. “All the trees are going to be pulled out. There’s going to be trash everywhere. Our property values will go down.”
Kettering said St. Ambrose will factor nearby residents’ concerns into plans “as much as possible. That was one of the intentions of meeting with the neighbors so early — we wanted them to be part of the process.
“…Our goal is to do this in a way that both enhances the neighborhood and supports the needs of the university.”
St. Ambrose obtained the property on which the complex is planned after negotiating a financial agreement with the trustee handling the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s liquidation of diocesan assets. The court received the deed for the property as part of a $37 million settlement the diocese reached two years ago with its creditors, most of whom are survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
In July 2009, the university bought for $3.35 million 58 acres of property, including St. Vincent Center and land on which the Humility of Mary Center stands. St. Ambrose later sold those two parcels to the diocese and to the Congregation of the Humility of Mary, respectively.