Regents also vote on baseball stadium lease

07:21 AM CDT on Friday, August 27, 2004

By Matthew Zabel / Staff Writer

FORT WORTH The University of North Texas Board of Regents voted Thursday to build 12 tennis courts and to allow a developer to build a baseball stadium along Bonnie Brae Street before next summer.

A $1 million donation and $1.6 million in bonds left over from the Student Recreation Center will pay for the $2.6 million tennis complex on the former Eagle Point Golf Course.

The board and university administrators have sought a good location for the tennis courts for several months. That process has involved some public meetings with residents who live near the development. Some residents objected in late 2002 when UNT announced it would close that golf course and build a dormitory, dining hall and athletics center on that property.

Gayle Strange, chairwoman of the board's facilities committee and a resident near the development, said this location will be better than a previous plan to build it closer to the houses on the east.

"The neighborhood is not enthusiastic about any of this," Strange said. "But there is agreement, I think, that of the choices available, this is the best choice."

Dr. Bonita Jacobs, vice president for student development, said students chose to use the remaining money from the student recreation center to build the tennis complex because the campus lacked enough tennis facilities.

With a dormitory newly opened near that site and student recreation fields soon to be built in that area, Jacobs said the tennis courts would become very popular among students.

Rick Villarreal, UNT athletics director, said it also would be a boon to the women's tennis team, which now plays its home matches at the Goldfield Tennis Center in North Lakes Park.

"Just to be able to play on our campus in front of our students is phenomenal," Villarreal said. The complex also will help with recruiting, he said.

Further defining the university's newly purchased property along Bonnie Brae Street, the board also voted to allow university administrators to negotiate a 30-year lease with the Denton Collegiate Baseball Club LP, owner of a Texas Collegiate League baseball team next summer.

That stadium would be located west of Bonnie Brae Street, north of Liberty Christian School, which UNT takes possession of next year.

Villarreal said a memorandum of understanding outlining the basic points of the agreement between the two parties could be drawn up in about a week, and a more detailed contract would be completed soon.

The agreement would allow the Texas Collegiate League team to use the stadium during the summer months and would leave it available for UNT's club baseball team to use it during the academic year. It also would give UNT a stadium already in place if it adds baseball as a intercollegiate sport.

Villarreal expects construction to begin this fall, so it can be finished by May.

MATTHEW ZABEL can be reached at 940-566-6884.