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UTSA asking city taxpayers for $25 million to build new athletics facilities

UTSA’s Park West Athletics Complex stands to gain an 80,000-square-foot multi-purpose team facility with locker rooms for 75 percent of UTSA's student-athletes as well as office space and a weight room.

SAN ANTONIO – The University of Texas at San Antonio is asking the city to include $25 million for athletics facilities in its 2017 bond package, which city taxpayers will decide whether to fund.

UTSA’s Park West Athletics Complex stands to gain an 80,000-square-foot multi-purpose team facility with locker rooms for 75 percent of UTSA's student-athletes as well as office space and a weight room.

The track and field stadium would also be completed with 1,000 more seats and the infrastructure to support them, such as restrooms and concession stands.

"When UTSA achieves Tier One status as a university, it has extraordinary impact economically, academically, community quality-of-life wise for the entire city of San Antonio," said Ron Nirenberg, the councilman representing district 8.

UTSA literature also states the facilities "will enhance the City's ability to host regional and national destination sporting events and will bolster the local tourism economy.”

"How many taxpayers does that benefit?" said Bob Martin, president of the Homeowner Taxpayer Association of Bexar County. "Most of us don’t go and utilize UTSA athletic facilities. It’d be a very small group of people, whereas streets, drainage, that kind of thing benefits pretty much everybody in the city."

Lynn Hickey, who leads the university's athletics department, called the project a win-win for the community.

She said the facilities would allow coaches to better recruit football players, which would lead to more revenue for the city.

The athletics complex would also support UTSA’s Tier One aspirations, Hickey said, adding regional competitions for high school and collegiate athletes could be held at Park West.

“This is a public institution,” Nirenberg said, “and we need to make sure that the public has a voice in the process, and that’s why it will go to the citizens’ committees to tell us whether it’s a continued priority, but it’s one that I support.”

The committees and city council will ultimately determine which projects are included in the bond proposal that voters will decide in May 2017.

City and county funding allowed UTSA to open the complex in August 2013 with soccer and track facilities.

State, city, county and private funding will also help bring a 21-court tennis center, two football practice fields and an 800-seat softball stadium in the future, according to UTSA literature.

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