St. Mary’s University formally opened its new outdoor sports complex, The Park at St. Mary’s, on Oct. 18 with a blessing and ribbon-cutting ceremony, as well as a public reception and facility tours guided by coaches and student-athletes.
Special guests included Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, County Commissioner Paul Elizondo, Mayor Julián Castro and District 7 City Councilman Cris Medina.
The Park at St. Mary’s is a modern, multi-use complex capable of hosting NCAA championship events. It features upgraded facilities for athletes and fans, including renovations to the baseball field and construction of new baseball facilities, additional tennis courts, two soccer fields and two softball fields with a stadium.
Construction on the $17.3 million complex began in spring 2012. Bexar County’s Community Venues Program contributed a $6 million grant toward the project.
“This spectacular sports complex benefits not only the St. Mary’s Rattlers,” St. Mary’s University President Thomas Mengler said, “it’s also a home run for the West Side of San Antonio. We are thankful for Bexar County’s teamwork in this effort, and we’re proud to have some of the finest Division II facilities in the country.”
The Park at St. Mary’s is able to host a variety of programs designed to meet the interests and needs of the public. These activities could include youth sports clinics, athlete autograph-signing opportunities, festivals and concerts, and the collection of food items to help people in the community.
“This incredible sports park in the heart of the West Side is going to be a great asset to the University, the community and collegiate athletes,” Commissioner Elizondo said. “The whole point of the program is to attract visitors through competitions and enrich the lives of our youth through competitive sports. I’m glad Bexar County was able to partner with St. Mary’s on this project.”
The new baseball park, Dickson Stadium, was built upon the steel structure of the old venue, VJ Keefe Stadium. It features new locker rooms, concessions stands, seating, a concourse, a façade, a ticket office and a batting cage. Berm seating will give fans an intimate view of game action. The renovated stadium is named after David C. Dickson (B.B.A. ’68), who gave $1 million toward the construction project.
The FIFA regulation-size soccer field is named Sigma Beta Chi Field in honor of a generous gift from the fraternity. Youth and high school players also will have the opportunity to use this pro-size field and gain exposure to higher education.
“St. Mary’s has a rich history in athletics, with five national championships on the fields and courts, and one in the classroom,” St. Mary’s Athletics Director Liz Dalton said. “Even with such a proud tradition of excellence, The Park at St. Mary’s immediately elevates our identity and will enhance the student-athlete experience. Rattler athletes will thrive in state-of-the-art facilities that incorporate academic, strength and conditioning, and medical spaces throughout the complex.
“Our alumni who contributed to The Park have made an impact on our community that will last generations.”
The new softball complex rivals Division I facilities and includes locker rooms, batting cages, a ticket office and outfield berm seating. The tennis courts include six resurfaced courts, two brand-new courts, permanent bleachers and a shade structure. There is also an intramural field for softball and football and a flexible-use field for concerts or festivals, such as Fiesta Oyster Bake.
The Park at St. Mary’s encompasses all sports venues on the University campus. The Alumni Athletics & Convocation Center, dedicated in November 2000, was the first facility of The Park and is hailed as one of the finest NCAA Division II indoor venues in the country.
St. Mary’s University repeatedly has been nationally recognized for its commitment to service and community engagement. The Carnegie Foundation has given St. Mary’s its prestigious Community Engagement Classification, and St. Mary’s has received the Presidential Award from the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition for service in higher education. St. Mary’s University is a Catholic and Marianist university with a tradition of academic excellence.